I never liked the idea of having a record label, because you’re too deeply invested into something you don’t control.
So if I were to have a label, my decision on who to sign wouldn’t be decided just by the quality of the music. There are plenty of people with great music but destructive work-habits or an unsustainable approach to their career.
To confidently invest in an artist (as a label), I’d want to see:
- every song has been absolutely improved repeatedly - every note/syllable crafted to be the best it can be
- vocal performance is not just perfect but head-turning, striking
- arrangement is everything it can be to bring out song/vocal
- arrangement offers a new idea to the world, and not just the usual paint-by-numbers
- photos/image are striking and amazing, and capture the essense of the music
- live show is so entertaining that even a deaf person would enjoy it
- band has been around, recording and gigging, for at least 2 years
- artist has done this for a few years and still believes that this is their real calling in life, regardless of external rewards (or total lack of)
- band members don’t need unreasonable amounts of money to perform (can perform profitably)
- band can entertain a crowd without props or big sound system (in-store appearances)
- off-stage persona is sustainable (stamina, dealing with fans well, etc)
- no addicts - to anything
- an unflappably healthy attitude to the immense amount of work it really takes to be successful at anything
And so you see why I’ll never have a label. Who could possibly fit this list? Garth Brooks? Dave Grohl?
I haven’t talked to any labels about this yet, but I wonder what their perspective would be. I’m friends with Jac Holzman who discovered the Doors and obviously didn’t regret it, despite Jim Morrison being the opposite of everything on my list. I should ask him. (Jac, not Jim.)