Survey Results: 75% of Indie Artists Seek a Label Deal – Sony Top Label of Choice

In a recent survey conducted by ReverbNation and Digital Music News, over 75% of indie Artists said that it was one of their goals to get signed to a record label.  The exact percentage varied from genre to genre, including a high of  81% of hip hop artists wanting a deal, and a low of 63% of alternative artists wanting to get signed.

When asked which labels were at the top of their wish lists, artists surveyed consistently listed Sony, Universal, Atlantic, Warner, Columbia, Epic, Capitol, and Interscope.

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KevinSurvey Results: 75% of Indie Artists Seek a Label Deal – Sony Top Label of Choice


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  • Bug Lewis - March 29, 2011 reply

    just wondering wat part of the plan includes my time and music…ready and willing to spread the message of a NWO

  • A'reale Hanks aka JuiceC' G - March 29, 2011 reply

    I would like to be signed, i have a new single out called Catch these Hands on you tube and facebook. I also have songs on Reverb Nation yearbook, soundclick, myspace, and highfive. I have plenty of underground tracks as well. Come check me out!!!! JuiceC’ G formerly known as D-Note.

  • evolvor - March 29, 2011 reply

    Should have just written the title as “75% of Indie Artists Seek are lazy daydreamers who don’t understand the music business” ;p

  • Oscar McCormick - March 29, 2011 reply

    necesito un label donde mandar mis canciones

  • Tre4records - March 30, 2011 reply

    That’s sum real info right there! Let’s get it

  • Leo River - March 30, 2011 reply

    Hey My Names Leo Rivera , And My Looking To Get Signed !
    Check My Music Out And Email Me Back Please And Thank You !

  • BIG'EMS - March 30, 2011 reply

    Tell Sony or any other label to check out my music

  • ruffrebels - March 30, 2011 reply

    why just spout the facts without leaving the solutions ?

  • Lyna Trina - March 30, 2011 reply

    LOL this will definitely be a hard game for me to play 🙂 The music business is enormous.

  • lil ant tha hustleman reallarrygang - March 30, 2011 reply

    go check out my music

  • Sayvon - March 30, 2011 reply

    Yo im a young artist looking to get signed. My tracks will be available on my web page coming out april 2.

  • Ralph Haygood - March 30, 2011 reply

    So…why? I’m genuinely curious, and I hope your survey included questions that get at the reasons. Not that I can’t think of reasons, but quite a few artists who’ve had major label contracts have said good-bye and good riddance at some point, so I suspect most artists know it’s something of a Faustian bargain. I’m curious what they see as the most important benefits that outweigh the liabilities.

  • Andre From Idlewood - March 30, 2011 reply

    If you just ask an artist if they want to be signed the answer is going to be ‘YES’, but if you put in the question the terms of the contract, and how they will only get a few pennies on the dollar that is made off of their work, and will never fully own their work again, then you MAY get some real sentiments…

    Andre From Idlewood

  • Niel - March 31, 2011 reply

    i love making beats I’m good at it but I dont want to be famous I just wish I could make some money off them so if there is a deal for that I’d jump at it!

  • Leemonster - March 31, 2011 reply

    I agree with what Andre said… The industry, the contracts.. It’s all no different than taking out loans really.. It seems so pure and glamorous from an outside angle but the filth and grit are as real as anything else when creative control is traded for sales and expectations. If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. While in the days of a much wider access of information sharing, the necessity of a label is really losing it’s grip and relevance. Also you have to ask yourself how often the flow of creativity is actually allowed when entering a realm of business and demographics.

    I’d highly recommend this article

  • » Surprise, Surprise (Not Really): Bands Still Want Record Deals - March 31, 2011 reply

    […] Surprise (Not Really): Bands Still Want Record Deals ReverbNation and Digital Music News recently conducted a survey whose results may surprise some folks. Turns out musicians of all stripes still want record deals […]

  • Phil Bowyer - March 31, 2011 reply

    Wow, even at the size of the group (just over 1800 artists), I’m surprised at this. Artists really need to be looking at making music as a business, and not an art. Sure record labels were useful and necessary, but that was then, and now I just don’t understand why an artist would want to sign rights away in exchange for a high interest loan, that in most cases will send the artist into bankruptcy.

    I’m writing a book called “Screw the Labels (Before They Screw You). I’m looking for musicians who want to give the positives of signing with a label (what they did for you, your experience, stuff like that). The book doesn’t bash labels, but shows how musicians can make a living as a musician w/out a label.

    I would really love to know what the attraction is with signing to a label.

  • Jim Grobecker - March 31, 2011 reply

    Really interesting survey. Good to see a few indie labels make it on the chart. Artists choosing those labels see that the indies can deliver similar artist development as the majors.

    Even though the recorded industry has changed so much in the past 5 years, I feel like this grid would have looked similar with the ratio of artists wanting to get signed to those that didn’t. The labels could have also ranked similarly.

  • Roxwel - April 1, 2011 reply

    Being sign is worthless if you ask me, cuz i mean whats the point? There isnt any money gettin put up to back artist like it use to be and with the new era of the internet, ppl are gettin major show money off grind. and able to have creative control and make the music that fits them. not make a radio song that stations dont even play anymore. so to me I would not wanna be sign to a major, unless its major money involve. cuz now people are building a brand and winning without one.

  • Chuck - April 1, 2011 reply

    Effectively these artists are willing to pay someone 50% of their net in return for putting their music up on Itunes.

  • fly guy entertainment /jizzy troops - April 2, 2011 reply

    being a signed artist doesnt make you! your distribution deal will make and we got both plus hot tracks. check our new hot single “shake it while you wasted” something everybody will love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hammy Havoc - April 2, 2011 reply

    It all hinges on what a label can offder you; Promotion/publicity and money are the orders of the day for most individuals.

  • CJP Staff - April 3, 2011 reply

    There are many recording contracts but the investment of many labels comes out off the top of the earnings. That means for those who want contracts remember you are getting a loan or an advance. IF you don’t earn back what is spent you’ll be dropped and old news not able to recover easily. Many artists find that if they can draw a large crowd, sell enough CDs of their own music, and then get airtime because their product is equal to the Major labels, then they are on good footing and may like to continue without overseers.
    The staff in a Major label that is needed to reach the level of exposure for an artist often is higher than more individuals can invest in themselves but sponsorship helps in this regard.
    As long as the artist knows it’s production, marketing, and sales…then they’ll be ok.
    Majors or Minor Labels or Indies all require distribution and this is a key factor that the Majors have had locked up until the internet has proven a competitor in that field. Soon the smaller labels run by artists (major artist all seem to have now budding record labels) will take over the function of most of the Majors which are technically only four Majors with umbrella contracts over many others with co op deals for distribution etc…
    Then when the artist run labels emerge the consumers will have more of a chance to decide instead of being told and directed into their decisions to be a fan. This started already a few years ago with Toby Keith, and many other artists in all fields releasing chart worthy products and performance in support to generate sales.
    Education is the key to artists for each step of the process towards success in the music recording industry. When they know how it works from the songwriter to the sales to the income and so on they’ll be better able to understand contracts are like every other contract in life you must sign. Know what you are getting into doing before you do it and you’ll survive the twists and turns. Good luck!

  • El Mago aka Calritos Gardel - April 4, 2011 reply

    Yo! Whats up! I am trying to spread my music worldwide please check my shit and if you like what you hear become fan, Ur support is very important for us…keep it real and thanks!!

  • Riddick - April 4, 2011 reply

    Forget about Freeman

  • Martist - April 4, 2011 reply

    I think that if an artist find the right way to spread his music over the millions internet users, there is no sense to sign with a major label!

  • Rello - April 4, 2011 reply

    Wow, I got a lot of useful information from this blog. I am a Hip-Hop artist from Huntsville, Alabama with a different style. Please check out some of my tracks. If you like what you hear please become a fan. Thanks. -Rello!

  • Alex Albanese - April 6, 2011 reply

    I think that more artists could establish a larger fanbase if Pandora and other internet radio uses the user information. Will Pandora’s recent law suit with SEC effect Music Radio?

  • Syncere aka Mr. Clean - April 7, 2011 reply

    When you have time check out the latest music God has blessed me with to reach our youth & make a morally positive impact on todays mainstream hip-hop. Also join the mailing list & while you there get your 4 free downloads from my upcoming mixtape “The Clean Mix” which will be available summer 2011 free online.
    God bless,
    Syncere aka Mr. Clean

  • Moe - April 7, 2011 reply


  • Business News - April 14, 2011 reply

    Music is not a simple game to learn…specially for me its very hard to play

  • Febreze - April 15, 2011 reply

    LOL at all the wannabes that posted “check me out I wanna get signed” in this thread.

  • Yung City - April 18, 2011 reply

    Check out music from YungCity DaCEO

  • emmalexmula - April 18, 2011 reply

    wishin 2 get sign,d world nid 2 hear my lines.,coz sumtyms my watch say dere’s no time

  • PLUGGY TERRIBLE - April 20, 2011 reply


  • Thee Xo - April 21, 2011 reply

    Yo whats up? Come check me out and tell me what ya think about my music. I hope you can become a fan & support Minnesota Music! I would love to get a deal… I think I’m on to something here!

    Thanks for taking the time to listen! I appreciate that!

    -Thee Xo

  • Funk Whip - April 21, 2011 reply

    By all means sign with a major if you desire losing all contol of your music, minimal return on sales and a debt your unlikely to clear even when the label has made millions from you.
    Odds are that for most of us it’s a problem never faced……

  • Nigga Pleaze - April 23, 2011 reply

    It’s kind of funny how dudes is on here talking about ‘Check out my music!’, and leaving a link to some bullshit site. GET A .COM HOMIES. It’s 2011! Step Ya Game Up!

  • Apex Clique - April 24, 2011 reply

    I agree with evolvor. Stop being lazy and go out there and get it. The label doesnt want you anyway unless you are allready putting in work and have a fan base.

  • Broken Horse and the Falling Tree: Unworkable Business Models – Hollyisco - April 25, 2011 reply

    […] ye olde “legacy media” still matter. And it might also explain why 3 out of 4 unsigned artists surveyed [about 1402 out of 1869] think being signed to a major label still […]

  • Elliott Randall - May 1, 2011 reply

    Either a total crock (ill-conceived survey) …or if even semi-true, I pity the poor naive artistes ready to sell their souls to the devil …and not having any idea of what a 360 deal is. Google it if you aren’t familiar with this term. It’s important.

    Pop has eaten itself. Th grandiosity of the “Majors” has been the ruination of the distribution of *quality* product (for the most part).

    A new era is upon us; cleverness, tenacity and passion will keep this art form alive. Not the labels.

  • Shai Littlejohn - May 2, 2011 reply

    I’d love to have a distribution deal, but not a 360 deal unless the percentages are fair AND the contract specifically outlines what the label will do and what costs it will incur that it expects me to recoup. Splitting $$ means everyone should be working hard!

  • lou richard - May 4, 2011 reply

    It’s been a goal of mine to get a record deal.I have a total of 15 songs.
    all on i-tunes ,reverbnation,and on indie music channel.Glad to report also
    one of my songs has been selected for radio play on indie music channel.
    As a songwriter,i do have many materials written for a couple more album.

  • lou richard - May 4, 2011 reply

    I’m very interested for my music to be heard by a major label

  • Parkhurst - May 5, 2011 reply

    Indie artists need to edit their songs so that only 1:30 or so of their song is available on their site and provide an overdub to the listener stating the full song is available for purchase and name where it is available for purchase.

    Then look at different video posts to see if anyone has uploaded their song in its entirety and request that the song be pulled from the site. Artists have to do it all for themselves.

    I’m doing that for my release “Ocean Sky” – there are over 10,000 artists all looking for fans, its not an overnight success situation. Don’t believe in the “Bed Intruder” success.


  • RnBMistress - May 11, 2011 reply

    I didn’t see R&B Music listed amongst the survey.

  • How to get a record deal 2011 | Musician Coaching - May 17, 2011 reply

    […] things seemed to be headed. How very wrong I was. I’m sure you have all seen the results of the ReverbNation and Digital Music News Survey that polled over 1800 artists a few months ago. They concluded that 75% of indie artists listed […]

  • Roger Guthrie aka jah-D - May 19, 2011 reply

    I have been at this a long time but only recently looking for a recording deal. I am eager to see what’s out there present my material and get feed back on what I am doing. I think all the info that this site has is awesome and really helpful … Thanks to all those who came together and created this site. I am sure it is helping many ad it is helping me. Even though I have been a musician for a long time, there is a lot to learn.

  • Behind the music: Will record labels and streaming services ever agree? – Marcus Evans Offices - May 27, 2011 reply

    […] pay-what-you-like release, to a number of record labels around the world. Maybe this explains why, in a recent survey by ReverbNation, over 75% of independent artists (including 81% of hip-hop artists and 63% of alternative artists) […]

  • Behind the music: Will record labels and streaming services ever agree? | My Personal blog - May 27, 2011 reply

    […] pay-what-you-like release, to a number of record labels around the world. Maybe this explains why, in a recent survey by ReverbNation, over 75% of independent artists (including 81% of hip-hop artists and 63% of alternative artists) […]

  • mick - May 30, 2011 reply

    I find it disappointing that so many artists are listing major labels as their desired home. I’d never say never, but who in their right mind would want to be signed to a major corporate label like Sony? If I ever get to the point with my music that labels are taking an interest, I would always pick a good independent label over the corporate cockocracy, who basically just bleach artists and nail them to the wall. Majors should rightfully die out. They’ve got no interest in music beyond its dollar value. The kids are so used to hearing the crap the majors pump out, they think that’s all of music, so they want more crap. So the majors put out more crap to satisfy the demand. What you end up with is a crapfest of epic proportions.

  • Behind the music: Will record labels and streaming services ever agree? | Technical New | Technology|Tips|News - May 31, 2011 reply

    […] pay-what-you-like release, to a number of record labels around the world. Maybe this explains why, in a recent survey by ReverbNation, over 75% of independent artists (including 81% of hip-hop artists and 63% of alternative artists) […]

  • Wook - June 3, 2011 reply

    Workin on da Midwest movement
    Join street team to help spread music
    Much appreciated
    Collabs get at me

  • Mista Green - June 9, 2011 reply

    The list is kinda redundant when u think about it. In the US there are only TECHNICALLY 4 MAJOR RECORD LABELS: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, & EMI. That’s it; the majority of the labels above fall under one of those companies. 2ndly, the majors ONLY SEEK PROFIT & OWNERSHIP (consolidation), they don’t give a damn about artistic expression, so unless ur just seeking fame and want to be treated as a puppet (to further add to the dumbing down of future generations), I wouldn’t advise signing to one unless u have a great team and a masterplan u plan on sticking by. Just be wise if u truly want to be signed.

  • Corey Be - June 14, 2011 reply

    The Music Business is changing, constantly evolving !!!

  • Brock - June 29, 2011 reply

    Constantly Evolving into a guy with Pro Tools in his basement putting together some decent music. Just nothing you will be able to actually experience, except through studio tracks.

  • ToxicHighway - July 16, 2011 reply

    This just goes to show the mindset that “major labels” provide. It used to be that getting signed meant a lot of money, and a lot of opportunities for bands. Now, it just means you’re more than likely going to get screwed. I really wish more unsigned, independent artists would read the “real” story on major labels and act accordingly…with the internet providing so many avenues for musicians, artists could essentially start a necessary revolution to bring down the major labels.

    But apparently, there are still so many naive, uninformed artists that it’s really a shame.

  • 72% De Los Artistas Independientes Quieren Una Major, Dice Reverbnation | themusicpimp - July 25, 2011 reply

    […] siendo la cereza en el pastel para todo aspirante a la música. Un reciente estudio conducido por ReverbNation junto a Digital Music News  revela interesantes números y expectativas de los artistas […]

  • Pak Videos - August 18, 2011 reply

    I do like the way you have presented this situation plus it does indeed provide us some fodder for consideration. Nonetheless, through everything that I have observed, I only hope as the actual responses pile on that individuals remain on point and not start on a tirade involving the news du jour. All the same, thank you for this fantastic point and though I do not concur with it in totality, I value your viewpoint.

  • 100 Stack Sweat - August 31, 2011 reply

    I think that we as artist need to connect more and stop tryna to bet out each other unity is key just saying

  • Behind the music: Will record labels and streaming services ever agree? | Richard Hartley - September 25, 2011 reply

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  • Record Label 101 » Why? *updated!* *Are Many Musicians Wired to Not Do It Themselves?* - November 8, 2011 reply

    […] think the ReverbNation survey that revealed 75% of artists still want to be signed speaks to how many artists still see the label deal as the […]

  • Press Play Music - January 8, 2012 reply

    Not all artists need a record label deal to put their product out there. We distribute in Australia for indi artists with no contracts, fees etc. Getting found by music stores is the big thing, we list our products on the 3 catalogues that allows that to happen. We dont do promotion, purely distribution. So if you promote your product there are ways of getting it out there without waiting forever for a record label to find you.
    More info available by contacting us at


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