Since around 2012, I started to realize a good amount of the bands I like started to get dropped from their major record labels. At first, it made me question things like are these bands not good anymore? However, it started to happen over and over again and I didn’t think that was the issue. Even one of my favorite bands who is still pretty big headlining summer amphitheater’s, Counting Crows got dropped from Geffen Records. Now, this band eventually signed to a different major record label, but that band was like one of the only bands I liked that signed to a new one. Some examples of other bands I like that got dropped from major record labels are Lifehouse, Blue October, Augustana, Collective Soul, Seether, The Calling, Cavo, and LIVE. As said above, it made me question if the music was still good. I thought those bands were still good, with some even better than before. These bands also still had a good following, some with bigger followings than major record label artists. So what does this say about major record labels then?
It says that record labels just look for whatever the popular trend is instead of artists that are good who can bring long term success. This has been going on since major record labels started out as major artists would tell you. However, it’s even worse now. Instead of just looking for the popular trend and then dropping that artist when their music doesn’t sound like the current trends, they should try and focus on artists who make timeless music and have the potential for a good long term career.
One example of record labels doing this is the Seattle grunge scene during the 90s. Once bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam started to blow up, major record labels would target Seattle as the place to go to find new artists like it was New York or Los Angeles. This was the new hip trend in the 90s. There were numerous bands that sounded like those bands that the record labels tried to steal. I would think you probably don’t even know those “Grunge” bands outside of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains. That’s not your fault though. It’s because their music just wasn’t good enough. The record labels would try and just find any band that sounds like Nirvana and sign them even if their music wasn’t that good. There were some bands leftover from the grunge scene who still have good careers today, but that’s because after a while they changed their music style. They realized if they continued making grunge music, then people would just think of them as a grunge ripoff. Think of bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Foo Fighters. Early on they had grunge music, but once that style started to fade away, they just focused on writing good timeless music. Sometimes, some of those albums that didn’t sound like grunge, were even more popular than the albums that were in the grunge style.
This is a pattern that goes on with major record labels. After grunge, the new hip style was post-grunge-like what Stone Temple Pilots and Foo Fighters evolved into. There were lots of bands just like them, but you don’t know who they are because their music wasn’t good like Stone Temple Pilots and Foo Fighters. Think about “Vasoline” by Stone Temple Pilots and “Everlong” by Foo Fighters. Those songs became huge hits and sounded nothing like grunge. They are just good timeless rock songs. After that, the new hip style started to get softer and more melodic, but still had some elements of grunge such as the raspy vocals. Two examples are Matchbox Twenty and Goo Goo Dolls who were among the leaders of the new genre. There were many bands that had the same style of music, but no one knows who they are today because they were just copiers. This still goes on today. Take country music for example. Ever since country started to get popular again, record labels went down to Nashville like how record labels took over Seattle in the 90s. Nashville is now a big hub for music. Going back to my question about what all of this says about record labels, all of this shows that being on a major record label doesn’t mean you are going to be so big or if you’re a great musician. It means you just had the same style in your music.