Artists’ impact when music labels merge

by Brooke Landers-

Hybe, a South Korean music management company, buys hip-hop label Quality Control for $300 million. Hybe is home to artists such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and a roster of K-pop stars. These names will now be joined by the artists of Quality Control, which include Migos and Lil Baby. 

Erik Cumpston leads Paperplant for their show in the Bandslam concert at Virginia Tech. Photographed by Brooke Landers on Feb. 16, 2023.

According to the online blog, Complete Music Update, this deal now puts Hybe at the forefront of the hip-hop genre in the U.S. This major merger will no doubt cause ripples across the international music industry. The business move is a reflection of how important the managerial side of the professional music industry is. 

To better understand the music industry, Professor Artem Bank from the Music Department of Virginia Tech offers some insight on the subject. 

“Management that has connections within the areas the artist wants to pursue is paramount, whether this is someone who understands and frequently sets up sync licenses, has ties to marketing agencies that can push a new artist, or has access to exclusive and lucrative promoters and booking agents,” says Bank.

He emphasizes that it is also easy to face potential downfalls, like getting mismanaged and signing to a label that might take advantage of an artist. Thus, when larger labels start to shift and merge, it might not always be in their artists’ favor. 

“It’s not enough to just be good at making music. A lot of people are. How that talent is applied is much more important than just having the talent,” explains Bank.

As talent is not hard to find in the music industry, smaller labels do their best to sign upcoming and emerging artists. Yet, these smaller labels also have to compete with the ever-growing giant that is Hybe.

Milk Parlor, a local Blacksburg music venue frequented by small artists. Photographed by Brooke Landers on Feb. 16, 2023.

Indie artists and those lesser known in the industry are making their success through grassroots marketing. Erik Cumpston, lead singer and guitarist of Paperplant, a local Blacksburg, VA band, exhibits how artists can take the business management into their own hands with some extra work.

“It is also hard to be seen as ‘credible’ when you have not played with any bands in the scene yet, and no one really knows who you are. It is really tough to gain traction, but consistency is key,” says Cumpston.

Being a consistent artist that seeks out opportunities will likely generate some sort of success, but artists will make it to the next level by signing to a label. A label would help with alleviating the responsibilities of generating opportunities in terms of shows and appearances. 

“When it comes to booking a show, you typically have to spam call or email the venue to get their attention,” says Cumpston.

With a label, these hoops would be much easier to jump through. Yet, it is clear that the music industry is becoming more and more concentrated into a few massive labels, like Hybe. Signing to a smaller label might not do much for up-and-coming artists these days.

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