Wilco releases The Whole Love on their new label dBpm
In the indie sector, this week qualifies for landmark status, as the much revered and critically acclaimed band Wilco officially turned their back on the major labels with the release of their new album The Whole Love. The Chicago combo had spent their entire career through Warner Music, firstly on Sire/Reprise, before controversially being dropped, and ironically re-signing to WMG via Nonesuch. In fact the new Wilco album constitutes band leader Jeff Tweedy‘s first indie release for almost 20 years, ranging back to when his prior group Uncle Tupelo left the Rockville label after their March 16-20 album and signed to Sire/Warners for their final record Anodyne in 1993. The Whole Love is the first release on the Wilco’s own imprint dBpm, distributed via Anti, part of Epitaph Records – not a small indie, but still a far cry from the WMG behemoth. And significantly, the early signs on the record show it is business as usual in the Wilco world, and they are not rueing their departure from the major label. In fact, to the casual observer there is no difference, with the obligatory NPR piece and album stream, a TV performance on Letterman, the glowing reviews, the slew of articles, and a general blitz in the media.
In the broader scheme of things, onlookers will also be curious to track the success of the album, as it could serve as the template for a number of other alternative and indie bands with a similar sales base and stature (such as Bright Eyes and Fleet Foxes, who have both reportedly fulfilled the terms of their recording agreements), looking for non-traditional release options in 2011 and beyond. Not only could more artists be looking to turn to the independent world and snubbing the majors and those dreaded 360 deal terms (though The Shins bucked the trend, signing to Columbia), but more could also be really choosing to take control of their own destiny, following the example of Wilco (and other artists like The Get Up Kids), and forming their own record labels.
- Cool Hand Luke
Weezer Going To An Indie For Next Release?
Who’s signing where, and what does it mean? Indie acts going to majors, major label artists aligning with indies, and both systems vying to nab the same unsigned bands… Looking back at recent months there is a veritable mixed bag. There are artists with a history of at least a few successful indie releases under their belts, like Band of Horses and Iron & Wine, who have recently made the jump to major labels, Columbia and Warner Bros. respectively, while other acts like Spoon and Arcade Fire seem to continually be content on indies… Elsewhere new act Surfer Blood appears to have already made the move to a major; just 6-months following the Kanine Records release of the band’s debut album, the group had racked up enough sales and touring numbers to garner serious interest from multiple labels… This while unsigned acts with no real sales or tour history like GroupLove and DOM, are currently being courted by both major labels and indies, seemingly so as to not miss out on what could be… What about the reverse trend? Not counting heritage acts, or the exhaustingly-debated pay-what-you-want path taken by Radiohead and NIN among others, one could point to recent examples in Interpol and Wilco as once major label artists now leaving for an indie (their own new label in the case of Wilco). But will there be more to come (or go, as it is)? Word on the street is that longtime Universal artist, Weezer, who released all seven of their previous studio albums on DGC and Geffen, are making a move to a big indie label for their next album. Hmmm… And finally where do the two now meet? A new project to watch unfold will be The Secret Sisters, who recently finished recording their debut with producers Dave Cobb and T-Bone Burnett. A large buzz is building with the news that the first single from the duo will be released via the Jack White helmed Third Man Records, with the full-length already slated to come out on Universal Republic this fall… Stay Tuned.
The Best Things in Life Aren't Free?
Not to be left out of the growing media preoccupation with new music services from industry giants like Google and Apple, not to mention the handful of new players who have emerged ahead of the curve like mspot, MOG, Spotify and Rdio, MySpace Music is back in the mix with renewed reports this week of a looming subscription service. The company is said to be in talks with labels about moving away from their current free streaming model to a paid service… Simultaneously MySpace parent News Corp. was quick to deny rumors that the company is in talks to sell the once supreme social network that has been facing a tough transition and revolving door of executives over the last year… An article in the WSJ today examines the increasingly tough road for the live music business – and for those keeping score, Rihanna‘s “Last Girl on Earth” tour appears to be the latest summer outing to announce cancellations… Elsewhere, Wilco is planning to start their own label and will be leaving Warner Music after a 15-year relationship, having released albums on both Reprise and then Nonesuch… And CAA + “The Decision” x Kanye West = LeBron to The Heat…
Buh Bye bebo; AOL Plans to Sell or Shutter the Social Network
The week began with a report that EMI was apparently still in talks with Sony Music about a possible catalog licensing deal, though some have pointed out that contracts with key EMI artists might prevent such a deal from going through. No further updates followed, other than a cheery financial outlook from Terra Firma boss Guy Hands… AOL revealed that it was planning to sell or shutter the social networking site bebo that it paid $850 million for in 2008, while Rhapsody spun off into an independent company shedding former partners RealNetworks and Viacom/MTV; the subscription music service now also counts Universal Music Group as a new minority investor… Digital royalty collection organization SoundExchange announced that its 2010 Q1 payouts to artists and copyright holders topped all previous quarters… Details about the Solid Sound Festival were released this week, the Wilco-currated three-day event will take place in June at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA… And Sonicbids owner Panos Panay talks about the artist-as-entrepeneur…