Say What? – Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton on starting her own label:

I put it on my own label because many of the majors really didn’t want me because of my age, thinking I was over. But I feel different about that. I figured the major labels are pretty much a thing of the past anyway, kind of like they thought I was! The way music is being played today, why not make all the money, if there’s any money to be made. I’d rather have all of something than some of nothing.

Ouch! Pretty nasty indictment of the major label system, mostly because it’s entirely accurate. The system is dying, with legends like Paul McCartney and, if rumors are true, Madonna jumping ship to make more money elsewhere. Are we slowly getting to the point, with all this new media and direct marketing potential, that the major label system will meet its demise?


  1. Simple answer? No. Major labels are going to have to change the way they do buisness–that’s a FACT. But to sell records at a superstar level takes a perfectly-timed convergence of promotion, publicity, and distribution on a global scale that only a mega can provide.

    We know that a self-label or an indie label can be more profitable on a much smaller number of units, but those smaller labels are just unable to launch superstars.

  2. Dolly’s right, if you take a look at what the likes of Toby Keith, Tracy Lawrence, Emerson Drive, Little Big Town have done on indie labels (or in Toby’s and Tracy’s case, owning them), they have been making better music than most of the guys on the Sony/BMG monopoly. The only guys on the roster that have been up to par have been Martina, Alan, Brad, and Sara.

    And Jim, I agree on what you think commercially. Unless you still have momentum at radio like Toby did in 2005 when he decided to launch Show Dog records, you’re not going to have a gold record or a top ten hit.

  3. Great find! I hasn’t heard or read that anywhere. Good thing I come over to CountryUniverse every now and then – otherwise, I would’ve missed it.

    The somewhat funny thing is, pretty much the same thing happened to Johnny Cash- but in his case (like that of Porter more recently) someone was smart enough to realize…

    I’ll never forget something Ricky Scaggs said (not a direct quote), “I can more money on 100,000 with my own record than I can selling 1,000,000 for someone else.” And he said that 10 years ago.

    Great blog – I really enjoy it.

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