Instructions: Investigate a small, independent recording company (of which there are tens of thousands throughout the United States and the world). Visit its Web site, and/or e-mail or telephone the company. In your investigation, try to proceed through the five steps of the critical process:
1. Description. What kind of music does this label specialize in? Is the label limited to only one genre? What are some of the groups that the label produces? Where and how does the label identify its musical artists? How does the label describe itself? How does the label distribute its recordings to consumers?
2. Analysis. Look at the variety of groups that the label produces. What kind of fan is the label trying to target? How does this label promote its artists and get a recording to the consumer? What obstacles does the label face in popularizing its artists? Is the label fiercely independent, or is its goal to sell to a major label? Is the label struggling, or is it financially viable?
3. Interpretation. From what you've gathered so far from your research, what major problems do independent recording labels face? Do you see independent labels overcoming these problems? How?
4. Evaluation. What is the value of small independent recording companies to the entire recording industry? What would be different about the recording industry as a whole if small independent labels didn't exist? Add other questions and information as you go along.
5. Engagement. Now that you know about indies, give some a try.
Sample independent label artists on Web sites such as http://wiki.etree.org (all music is free and legal to download and trade). Better yet, buy some music, and request that local radio stations play quality local independent artists so that other people can hear them. (This will be more effective if several people make requests over a sustained period of time.) You might also talk with retailers about carrying local independent music CDs if they don't already do so. *** For the purpose of this assignment, this is not a requirement that you do any of these things. Engagement is step 5 of the critical process. You may think through how you might engage with music after completing this assignment. For example, you could discuss how someone could decide to purchase music from an independent label. For this step, you may write about how someone could engage.