This Critical Process exercise takes a deeper look at indie labels. We will be applying the steps of the critical process (that we read about in Chapter 1 and is discussed in every chapter) to the music industry.
Investigate a small, independent recording company (of which there are tens of thousands throughout the United States and the world). Visit its Web site, and/or e-mail or telephone the company. In your investigation, proceed through the steps of the critical process (listed below).
1. Description. What kind of music does this label specialize in? Is the label limited to only one genre? What are some of the groups that the label produces? Where and how does the label identify its musical artists? How does the label describe itself? How does the label distribute its recordings to consumers?
2. Analysis. Look at the variety of groups that the label produces. What kind of fan is the label trying to target? How does this label promote its artists and get a recording to the consumer? What obstacles does the label face in popularizing its artists? Is the label fiercely independent, or is its goal to sell to a major label? Is the label struggling, or is it financially viable?
3. Interpretation. From what you’ve gathered so far from your research, what major problems do independent recording labels face? Do you see independent labels overcoming these problems? How?
4. Evaluation. What is the value of small independent recording companies to the entire recording industry? What would be different about the recording industry as a whole if small independent labels didn’t exist? Add other questions and information as you go along.