Over the last few days, I've been engaging in a few conversations regarding artists and how they get their music out to the world. One conversation revolved around the idea of subscription services and their benefits, as well as if that could possibly be the wave of the future. The second was questioning why people still sign with labels, considering there are subscription services like deadmau5's, or Bandcamp, or the plethora of other ways producers and DJs can get their shine on. I bring all of this up because, given the above tweets, I have one question: why is deadmau5 relying on labels?
While the exact source of the Twitter tirade up above isn't clear, one thing is for certain: deadmau5 sounds frustrated, and it has to do with Astralwerks. He asks what Astralwerks gives a fuck about, dropped a picture with the infamous "you only had one job" meme, then when one fan LOLs about Porter and deadmau5 being on the same label but hating each other, deadmau5 simply says "not for long." Whatever's going on, we'd be surprised if it's over, even if his management has to now "unfuck" this situation as deadmau5 hits the tour circuit.
Now for an artist that went to great lengths to strike out on his own with his "suckscription" service, I remembered questioning what that meant for his partnership with Astralwerks. I can totally understand why an artist would want to sign with a label. Producers like Porter Robinson need a certain channel to link up with, so when they spread their wings and attempt to fly, they have a place that can back them up, get them into doors they previously weren't able to enter, and, most importantly, distribute their releases through channels and avenues that some labels and service can't. And if you're a certain artist, there are times when I encourage that. No matter how dope your music is, if you're aim is to be widely-recognized, it's hard to not have some kind of major label affiliation. Praise OWSLA all you want, but Skrillex makes more noise on his own, primarily due to his Atlantic/Big Beat affiliation. Hell, there's a reason why the Big Three are investing on new imprints specifically for EDM.
The thing is, deadmau5 has come across as a man who walks to the beat of his own drum. He is an artist first, and would rather sidestep the bullshit than slog through a hellish eternity. And in launching live.deadmau5.com, I initially figured he had plans to really strike out on his own, outside of the Drip.fm services that Mad Decent and OWSLA have been using. He set up his own site that people had to buy into to not only get unlimited access to music, but get all access to him. If you have the fanbase, and the demand is there, why not take that leap? Kaskade's thinking about doing it, and we have a feeling he could achieve solid success for releasing music to his fans. So the question remains, what good is a label for a free-thinker like deadmau5?
One has to deduce that deadmau5 truly understands the game. He has to understand the benefits of an Ultra Music or an Astralwerks; two imprints within the major label sphere that specialize in certain demographics that have the ability to get music to more hands, ears, and eyes than someone can do on a more independent level. And you'd have to figure there's a certain level of trust there—you're putting your faith in a machine to work with and (most importantly) for you, so your vision can be thrown out there with minimal amount of watering down.
My only hang-up? deadmau5 left it open-ended, so we don't know what was ailing him. It looks to be by design, as it gets the people on Twitter and the media buzzing. It'll more than likely get cleaned up, because who wants to piss off someone like deadmau5? The thing is, he was frustrated with Ultra, and chose to leave as opposed to continuing his contract. Soon after he linked up with Astralwerks for his solo material, and brought mau5trap to the Capitol Music Group. That's a lot of trust. If (when?) he ultimately leaves Astralwerks/Capitol, will he be looking for another imprint to inhabit? Time will tell.