LA’s Independent Label Innovators

A handful of smaller record companies are leveling the field and changing the rules

As recently discussed in the LA Times, new music industry practices are not only proving more cost effective for small, independent labels, but are resulting in exposure levels only previously attainable by the big record companies.

L.A.’s big-league independents — labels such as Dangerbird, Alpha Pup or Stones Throw — have discovered the beauty of diversification. They combine standard label operations with artist management, album mastering, merchandising, licensing and promotion. Their charge is to become the only entity a band needs to satisfy its commercial and financial needs, including record and MP3 sales, film and television placements and even T-shirts.

Foregoing traditional distribution channels like CD releases, small labels are opting instead for an all-digital approach coupled with a few limited forays into retro vinyl records and cassette tapes. Ultimately, by cultivating connections with emerging artists and hip venues in the thriving LA-based music scene, these independent labels are also capitalizing on their biggest asset— passion for their product. As Jeff Castelaz, co-owner of Dangerbird Records, says in the article,

“There are going to be far fewer skyscrapers in the music business, and many, many more squat buildings that are filled with purpose.”

This dedicated approach to the creative process, as well as the curiosity and confidence to experiment with nontraditional methodologies are applicable learnings across any industry.

The Los Angeles Times, “Broken Record: Music In The Download Era”

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