Did you ever wonder why you can’t upload your songs directly to Spotify? How about Apple Music or Amazon Music? Why can the record labels do it but an indie artist can’t?
If you remember, Spotify did have a direct upload program, but it ended on July 1st, 2019 without a word as to why.
The reason is that the major labels pressured all the streaming services to restrict direct uploads to only the labels as they don’t want to be bypassed as the middleman.
Imagine if Adele or Ed Sheeran decided that they’d rather take all the money from streaming instead of sharing it with a label, so as soon as their agreement with the label ended they uploaded everything directly. That would start the snowball rolling, with virtually every artist thinking, “Well, what do I need the label for anyway?”
We might be getting to that point already, but remember that the label does provide an infrastructure that you can’t get anywhere else that can take you from star status to superstar. And they also provide advertising, promotion, and the muscle of a huge catalog that you don’t have as a single artist, no matter how huge you are.
More and more labels are not interested in an artist until they’ve developed an audience (although that’s pretty much always been the case to some degree), and it’s easier than ever for an artist to do that. That said, a label will make a substantial investment in most artists these days and wants to see a return on that investment.
Remember that it’s just a business to them. They’re not signing you for your music, but for your audience or potential audience. How you develop that audience is up to you at first, but once they sign you, a label will take a much more active part in the process, for better or worse.