Will ‘Gingerbread’ Make A Difference?

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Ed Sheeran decreed today that he had forged a new record label, aptly named ‘Gingerbread’, and that his first signing will be Jamie Lawson, a British singer song-writer, whom Sheeran has raised out of the depths of internet obliqueness to potential stardom. This is the latest addition in the history of the rejection of labels, but is all this actually making a difference to an industry we beseech with such hate for its bias.

 

Ed Sheeran is a performer who needs no introduction, from a six time platinum debut album to his constant positive public image, he has become a superstar in an industry where faces come and go as often as the trends that support them. His announcement of this new label is no surprise with Ed reminding us he had some “big, big opening acts lined up” for this year’s tour(s), and ‘Gingerbread’ can be viewed as a dramatic way of reaching out to these support acts and giving them a quick booster into the limelight, no harm done. Or is it? Is this new record label going to allow artists to bypass the necessary steps to stardom, many steps which Ed trenched through for years on end, and missing the valuable lessons along the way? Surely it is more beneficial for artists to progress up the ladder, working tirelessly for years to achieve their dreams and thus their dreams tasting that bit sweeter. The creation of a path avoiding this ‘initiation’ can only surely detract from the musicianship of any aspiring amateur performer? Only time will tell, but it’s clear this is a big move for Ed. He’s kicked around in the industry for a good few years now, but is that any background for starting up a label?

In the current climate of the industry, the purpose of a label is changing rapidly. From Universal Music’s decision last year to start up ‘Awesomeness Music’, a label dedicated to ploughing through Youtube channels for the next stars, it is clear that new methods are required. No longer are the record labels ‘gatekeepers’ of the industry, forcing undiscovered artists down a treacherous narrow path with only a small glimmer of hope at the end and an even smaller paycheck. With the explosion of online marketing and sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp, no longer are artists required to court a label simply for a release. This was epitomized by Radiohead’s use of their own website to distribute their album ‘In Rainbows’ back in 2007, a move which many acts have joined in with such as Nine Inch Nails, My Bloody Valentine and A$AP Rocky. This truly gives artists freedom to put their music out there, regardless of the opinions and market projections of PR titans, but comes at a price – exposure – a powerful element which big labels can provide easily and small ones struggle to facilitate.

Although it is not clear to see where the evolution of the record label is going, I think we can agree that Ed’s new label ‘Gingerbread’, will see success due to Sheeran’s name being stapled onto it. Will it make a difference in the long-run? I think not….Perhaps we should aim to incorporate the ideals of both worlds into a cocktail of musical exposure. Could we dare to truly create the first independent record label that can still achieve real-world success? Or do we have to wait for artists like Ed Sheeran, Radiohead or even the label’s themselves to poke the general public rudely awake before we will act to change this?

 

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