This article from the NYTimes ( registration required, blah, blah) talks about how Natalie Merchant is leaving Elektra and releasing new material on her own label. The article seems to think this is a “new trend” indicating the wave of the future.

Which got me to thinking about how much of the CDs I’ve bought recently are from “major labels”. Looking at my recent purchases, I’d say that this trend away from major labels has started quite a while ago for me:

Yazbek Damascus What Are Records

The Full Monty (Original Cast Recording) RCA

Brave Combo Kick Ass Polkas Cleveland International

Andy Partridge Fuzzy Warbles APE

Raiatea Helm Far Away Heaven Rip Tide Records

XTC Coat of Many Cupboards Idea Records

Brave Combo EEjhanaika P Vine

Meanwhile, the NYTimes article hints that the only reason for new acts to sign with a major label is to get marketing money and radio exposure. Considering the growing irrelevance of traditional radio, and the growing importance of nontraditional radio, I think soon there won’t be any reason for a talented artist to sign with a major label. Indeed, these are already mostly the preserve of the talentless belly-button crowd. Seems like this will be a very interesting place to be in the next few years.