While I have spent a good deal of space on my blog defending major labels as a viable option for aspiring and successful artists, I nevertheless find the idea of remaining independent to be both motivating and exciting. There are some great success stories about artists who have achieved success on their own. One is my hometown favorite, The Civil Wars.
Wikipedia states “On Feb 1st, 2011, The Civil Wars released their debut full length album, Barton Hollow. The album reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200 chart and No. 1 on the Billboard Digital Albums chart, sold 25,000 copies in its first week and remained at No. 1 on the iTunes chart for nine days.” Not a bad start for an independent - or a major.
The duo won the 2012 Grammy Award for best Folk Album, and Country Performance by a Duo or Group. The group’s success is old news now – but nevertheless only one example of how it can be done without the support of a major label.
Please take note that members of The Civil Wars had a lot going for them and approached their independent career in a very business-like manner. Joy Williams was signed as a contemporary Christian Artist at the age of 17 and received a total of 11 Dove Awards before deciding to write and record in additional genres of music. John Paul White was well known among local industryites in Nashville and had paid his dues in this city. The two formed The Civil Wars and Joy’s husband left his job as an a&r rep at EMI Christian Music Group to become their manager. Joy had success as a songwriter and saved her earnings to help launch the duet.
Without going into anymore detail on the history of this group, I will state my point. It is not likely that a new artist will match this type success just by recording a record and “throwing it out there”. There is a lot of competition so planning, a good support team, and, yes, financial support, will likely be needed.
I know there are a lot of other independent artist success stories. I would love it if some of the readers would share them in the comments.