There used to be a time when record labels completely controlled the music industry. If you were a musician trying to make a career 20 years ago, you had no choice but to go through a record label. However, that does not seem to be the case anymore. Artists like Chance The Rapper are bringing light to the idea that you don't need a label to have an amazing career in the music industry. In fact, record labels are becoming more and more obsolete as time goes by and technology advances. The times are changing and it's an amazing thing for the upcoming musician.
As an independent artist, you have complete control over your career. You can choose the type of music you make, how much it will cost, when it's released, where it's released, when you want to go on tour, who you work with, etc. With a label, artists must get approval from the executives before making any decisions. For example, an album must be cleared by upper management before it is considered for distribution. On top of that, the release plan for an album is completely decided by the label. Sometimes, it can be years after an album is recorded before the label decides they want to release it (if they decide to release it at all). However, there is a lot less money in the budget of an independent artist versus a label. It is customary for a label to spend millions of dollars on production/writing costs, engineering costs, and marketing/promotion. That's millions of dollars that most independent artists don't have. So as an independent artist, you must be very creative in getting your music heard.
Although you do not have a million dollar machine backing you up, another plus side to being an independent artist is that you own your music. You won't have anyone trying to take advantage of you and your art. This means that you'll get all of the money that you make from your music. With a record label, you share ownership of your music with many other people (including their publishing company). Which means you'll only be making a couple of cents out of every dollar that your album makes. To make things worse, you won't see any of that money until the label recoups the millions of dollars that they spent on producing and promoting your record.
To be continued...