Blake Morgan Talks Independent Record Labels
[This transcript is excerpted from a special edition of Art of the Song entitled The State of the Music Biz. Click here to listen to the complete program as broadcast on Public Radio.]
Viv: Here’s Blake Morgan talking about his record label ECR Music Group.
Blake Morgan: That’s an example where my major label experience coming out of that made me want to do that. Made me want to build a label where the artists own their own recordings. The label licenses the records from the artists for a period of time but the artists continue to have ownership over the record and at the end of the licensing period the artist and the label have the opportunity to say “Hey should we keep going?” or “You know what? No thank you,” Artists always have the power. People ask me all the time, “Well what happens if you work with an artist for four or five years and you build their career up and then they decide to go to like a major label?” In other words being like “Well ECR then gets left out in the cold after all this development work” and my answer to that is “Well if that’s what the artist wants to do then they should be allowed to do that. That’s ok.” The punch line to that is that it’s never happened. Because nobody’s ever wanted to leave because they’ve found that this is the best environment that they’ve ever had. I think my being an artist who is also the CEO of the label, that really helps. What was that old ad we all used to see on television? For the hair club for men? “You know I’m not just the president of the company, I’m also a client!” Being an artist who’s owning a label, there are a lot of those in the world. But this isn’t a vanity thing or where I’m putting my name on it, it’s what I do everyday. I think artists owning their own recordings and having that place at the table where they’re working hand in hand and shoulder-to-shoulder with music labels to try to win that audience, I just think that’s the healthiest way to do it. The other part of that is, none of our artists on our roster are signed to the label. Their work is signed to the label. ‘Cause that’s another thing. I don’t believe in signing a person. I believe in signing their work. There’s a great quote from Margaret Atwood, the writer who she said, in sort of in reference to celebrities, she said “Wanting to meet someone because you love their work, is like wanting to meet a duck because you love pâté.” I think about that all the time. We’re interested in the pâté. The artists on the label are my best friends in the world. But that’s what the label does, it signs the pâté. And then serves the pâté, and tries to win an audience for the pâté. That’s the philosophy and it’s worked really really well.