Rumours abound that the Decemberists are about to sign to a major label (Capitol) (via donewaiting.com) - I worry at the prospect and here's why
Majors think "How many records CAN we sell" (to make as much money as
possible - for US and our shareholders). Indies think "How many records do we HAVE to sell" (so we don't lose
money and possibly earn a few pennies to invest in the next band)
Majors are only interested in shipping "units" and as such stifle creativity. Creativity is fostered in the independent sector, where the music and artistry is appreciated.
Indies take chances on unknowns, Majors allow the Indies to take those risks and then prune off the "most likely".
There are no doubt exceptions but I'd always have more respect for a big band on an (big) indie than an "alt" band on a conglomerate.
Signing to a major label means that you are no longer working for someone who likes music - you're working for a corp whose intention is nothing more than getting a decent return on their investment for the shareholders - consideration for the artist's integrity is a minor issue. They don't sign bands because of quality they sign bands because of sales (or sales potential) - sometimes they get quality as a bonus! To sell the amount of records that a major requires invariably means compromising in some way
Major labels also have an unhealthy disrespect for the consumer - Capitol is part of EMI who pioneered "Copy Control" - if The Decemberists sign for a major don't expect to be able to play their next CD anywhere you like...
I really hope that the Decemberists decide to "pay their dues". The independent sector is what makes music - the majors just exploit.
This post has been bastardized from a couple of posts I've made to various boards and mailing lists over the last couple of years so apologies if you've suffered this rant before!