What Happens When an Artist Gets Dropped by Their Record Label?

There comes a time when an artist and a record label have to part ways–and it’s usually not very pretty. This comes from Noisey/Vice.

In 2002 Virgin Records dropped Mariah Carey from her massive four-record deal after she had a nervous breakdown that led to poor sales of her Glitter album—this was a time when shifting 500,000 copies could be classed as poor sales. Mariah walked away with a tidy $30 million in her pocket and almost immediately signed another multi-million dollar deal with Island Records. Never had a nervous breakdown been so profitable. That’s the sparkling, butterfly filled Mariah Carey universe though—the reality for most artists that find themselves axed or forced to walk away from their major label deal isn’t quite so glittering.

Signing to a major in 2015—Universal, Sony, Warner, or any of their key subsidiaries—is a bit like taking your pay check to the betting shop and putting it all on Kimmy K’s Selfish to win the 2016 Pulitzer Prize. And then confidently promising to buy the cashier a package getaway to the Dominican Republic with your certain forthcoming profits.

Of late, a stack of promising artists—Heavenly Beat, Bebe Black, Chloe Howl—have all been cut loose by their labels. Hyped Manila-based artist Eyedress tells me he was recently dropped by XL Records in the middle of his development stage, while still writing his album. So how does an artist get dropped or forced out of a label? What causes it and can you bounce back? I decided to contact a few who have fallen prey to the major label clearance sales in the past to get a feel for the industry’s cruelest and quietest kiss of death.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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