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MIKE PORTNOY Thinks Musicians Need Record Labels "Less And Less" In The Present Day

"They're relying on the artists' social media to get the word out more than they're doing it themselves."

Mike Portnoy

Are record labels as relevant as they once were? It's up for debate of course, but in an interview with Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz, drummer Mike Portnoy (The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Liquid Tension Experiment) puts himself on the side of "not exactly."

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Portnoy started by discussing his band The Winery Dogs releasing their latest record independently, saying it's the first time in his life he worked without a label. Portnoy defined the moment by saying "here we are finding ourselves in a situation, in 2023, where you really need labels less and less" before discussing why labels might be less helpful than people think.

It's worth noting that Portnoy says you should probably still get a distributor and publicist for your work – there's only so far DIY will take you before you're going to need professionals for something.

"You don't really need a label to get your music out there. As long as you have a distributor and a publicist, you could do the artwork yourself or the people you work with, and it's all about social media these days. Most of the labels are relying on us, the artists, to promote their records these days. I've seen it happen with labels; I've seen it happen with concert promoters.

"They're relying on the artists' social media to get the word out more than they're doing it themselves. So I think that's kind of where we're going. It's kind of refreshing, to be honest. It puts a little more pressure on us to be doing a lot of the legwork, but we reap the benefits from it. We're no longer at the mercy of a label.

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"When I was starting out with Dream Theater in the '80s and '90s, you couldn't do anything unless you had a record deal. You couldn't go into a recording studio and make a record and get a video out unless you had a record company. But times have changed so much since then.

"Now, as long as you have a YouTube account or Instagram account, you could put your own music on to Spotify or iTunes or whatever, you can have total control over your music, which is a good thing, I guess."

Portnoy also mentions he's obviously not anti-label, considering his work with bands like Transatlantic, Sons Of Apollo, and Liquid Tension Experiment are all released through InsideOut. If anything, this is excellent advice for younger artists!

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