Artist Creativity: What Does It Mean To Labels?

Last Tuesday, Skrillex officially dropped his highly anticipated album, Recess. Although the album received a positive response from critics and fans, it left many fans shocked with its surprise release.  It also raised questions such as, ‘when did Sonny have the time record the album’, ‘how did he do it without a major label interference’, and ‘what or who influenced him to release the album out of the blue’?

Recess has many contributors on the album, which is expected in a world of music that relies heavily on features from surrounding peers in the industry.  But when you tour the globe year round like Skrillex did in 2013, this brings up the question: Just where does one find the time to record a full length album, especially with a complete list of features from the likes of Fatman Scoop, Alvin Risk, Diplo, and Chance The Rapper just to name a few?  It all begins with his utter inability to stop making music.  As he traveled around the globe, he would constantly be inviting artists to the lab to work on collaborations despite his nutty tour schedule.

This allowed Recess to be recorded in a way the music industry has yet to see: He never took an advance from his label, Atlantic Records, like most other artists do.  Instead, he engaged with his particular collaborators on tour.  The process was new to Skrillex as well as the industry; it granted Sonny the freedom of recording without the creative clashing of a major music label.  For example: In order for Skrillex and Chance the Rapper to collaborate through a label, it would take weeks, even months for the two to get in the studio together.  Instead, while on his Seattle tour stop, Skrillex invited Chance into the studio, and together they banged out “Coast Is Clear” in just one studio session. 

Since Recess was turned over to Atlantic Records towards the very end of the production process, the label had little influence over the creativity and sound of the album.  There seems to be a trend behind the idea of quietly recording an album, turning it into your label, and then hoping they don’t interfere with your creative intent.  We’ve recently seen this from Kanye West and his album, Yeezus, along with Beyonce releasing her self-titled album, Beyonce.  It would only makes sense for the biggest names in Rap, Pop, and Electronic Music to follow similar strategies for their highly anticipated albums.  In the end, Atlantic Records was used merely for the promotion and distribution of the album, instead of blocking Skrillex’s creativity and influencing him to release an album he wasn’t quite comfortable with.  This risky technique was the best way for Skrillex to produce a quality album for the fans.

As if that’s not enough, Skrillex has made it clear that many tracks and collaborations that didn’t make the cut for the album will be heard later this year. It is projected that Recess, will sell 50-55k units in it’s first week of album sales, which makes it likely to premiere #2 or #3 on the charts.  You can support Skrillex by buying Recess, here Recess - Skrillex

 

NOTE: I was going to end my blog here but on Thursday, Kaskade released a series of tweets that seemed to relate to this post.  Kaskade went on to talk about the limits the labels puts on you as artist and how they want to control the music you want to release. He revealed that when he turned in Atmosphere to the label it was originally declined, but why?  Kaskade explained it perfectly in a tweet to Zedd, "Not being the album that would land me beer commercials & movie singles "@Zedd: @kaskade turned down for what?!"

 Atmosphere is one of the highest rated albums in the industry, and to think a label originally declined it is unbelievable.  This brings up the idea that Recess very easily could have been declined as well. With albums being rejected like such, it’s not surprising that Skrillex made the album the way he did, behind the labels back with little to no input on the contents of the album.  Skrillex understands what his fans expect from his music and he does everything in his power to give them what they want. 

 The industry is fueled by money, if money isn’t coming in the artist is failing, that according to labels.  But to the artist money isn’t everything; their job is to create music that the fans enjoy and if we do, they feel as if they successfully completed their job.  So does the label really know what the people want?  No, labels solely exist for one reason and one reason only, to make money.  

 

-Michael Maling

 

Michael Maling is the Public Relations Intern with East Side Entertainment.  He is currently a junior at Temple University studying Public Relations.  Michael hopes to further his career in the music industry after graduation.  You can contact Michael at, michael@eastsideelectro.com.