When the record label and musician ship begins to sink, no one stays. The turn of events doesn’t always have to end badly, however; a multitude of musicians have built their own growing labels with an eclectic catalog of artists including themselves. From Jack White to Kanye West, here are five musicians who epitomize JAY-Z’s famous line, “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man!”
Kanye West, G.O.O.D. Music
Full name “Getting Out Our Dreams,” Yeezy founded the label in 2004 in partnership with Sony BMG. John Legend, Common, and West started off as the initial artists although Legend left in 2016 and Common in 2010. G.O.O.D. Music has signed some of Kanye’s protégés like Big Sean, Pusha T, and Desiigner, and notable producers like Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest and Travis Scott.
Julian Casablancas, Cult Records
JC put up Cult Records originally as an imprint for his solo releases in 2009, but five years later he turned it into a full-blown record label. They accommodate nearly 20 different artists—Beach Goth band The Growlers, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, soul/pop artist Har Mar Superstar, Albert Hammond Jr., and Casablancas himself. On top of that, he signed The Strokes to Cult Records after the end of their five-album contract with RCA and Rough Trade, with their first release being their “Future Present Past” EP in 2016.
A month into the label’s formation, their first release “Spitfire” by Porter Robinson reached number one on Beatport. This marked a good start for Skrillex, Bitvargen, Kathryn Frazier, and Clayton Blaha in 2011 and the label’s growth proved to be true. Other famed DJ/producers such as Dillon Francis and Zedd, and vocalists like Anderson .Paak, Hayley Williams, and Kimbra have released work or been featured.
Jack White, Third Man Records
Third Man Records’ first physical location in Nashville, Tennessee is part record store, part headquarters, and part performance venue called The Blue Room—the only venue in this entire world to record live shows direct-to-acetate and producing a vinyl master in real time. White and his team constantly push the boundaries with vinyl records, releasing Glow In the Dark Records, Triple-Decker Records, Scented Records, and more. Check out White’s “Lazaretto Ultra” LP!
Roc Nation, LLC, JAY-Z
Shame on us if we didn’t put Mr. Carter on this list! Roc Nation, LLC acts as a full service entertainment company—a record label, talent agency, touring and concert production company, music, film, and television production company, and a music publishing house. Demi Lovato, Jaden Smith, J. Cole, Vic Mensa, and T.I. are some of the biggest names in the industry signed to Roc Nation’s record label while DJ Khaled, HAIM, Timbaland, Nick Jonas, and Grimes are under their management. Damn, Jay!
There are a number of reasons as to why musicians invest in their own record labels; apart from the revenue, being signed to their own label also gives them the creative freedom that they may not have gotten during their time with their previous label. Imagine being able to call something your own while giving back to the industry that gave you what you have? BRB, planning my finances for my own label.
Featured image from psfk