Artists from across different genres continue to prove that a major label is not a requirement to have a significant presence. Many up-and-coming artists understand the limitations of being signed to a major label too early in their careers. In some situations, signed artists have been unable to recognize the benefits of internally managing their career. Contrarily, indie artists can explore and innovate their musical style and branding. Indie artists retain full creative control over their music until they’re able to develop an undeniable mainstream brand. With the aid of music distribution companies like 21st Hapilos, artists can independently build their marketing and promotions while aiming for superstardom. Shrewd independent artists enter into auspicious distribution deals to circulate their music well before considering a traditional record deal. Reggae artists Koffee, Squash, and Shenseea are three examples of this approach; enjoying tremendous success after independent releases through Hapilos introduce them to new audiences.
Thanks to proper strategic social media tactics, and millions of YouTube views, Reggae singer Koffee has now become Jamaica’s biggest breakout star in recent times. Koffee’s hit “Burning” initially marketed and distributed by Hapilos was one of the early songs that helped to put her on the radar internationally. Thanks in part to this successful release Koffee is projected to have a tremendous career. At 19, Koffee is the youngest Jamaican artiste in 41 years to make the U.K. Official Singles chart (at #84) with her smash hit single “Toast.” The single charted #1 on Billboards. Koffee’s EP, called Rapture, was released on March 14. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart.
Squash is another up comer and one of Jamaica’s most dominant Dancehall artists on the scene. His single “Trending” debuted through the digital distribution company and immediately gained traction. Other songs by Squash marketed and distributed by Hapilos are “Ohh Lala La,” “Money Fever,” and “Beat Dem Bad.” Working with Hapilos, he has taken full advantage of the record label services provided by the company, which has helped to make him a success. Squash is the main man behind the now-famous Dancehall team known as “The 6ix.” Although he has been around for many years, it was not until 2016 that he started to get recognition.
Recording artist Shenseea’s breakout song “Loodi” was a collaboration with Dancehall superstar Vybz Kartel. The single was initially released, as well as marketed and distributed by Hapilos. Other releases by Shenseea through Hapilos includes “Jiggle Jiggle,” “Yuh Lie,” “Tell Me,” “Bum Like a Ball” and “Position” produced by super producer Rvssian, who is also responsible for her major-label debut “Blessed” featuring Tyga. The song landed the number two spot on Billboard’s Reggae digital song sales chart. The artist is now signed to Rich Immigrants/Interscope Records becoming the label’s first dancehall artist. Since Loodi she has also worked with Bunji Garlin, Kes, Aguilera, and Nailah Blackman. Shenseea reached her big break with the single ‘ShenYeng Anthem’ which gained a total of 6.1 million U.S. streams according to Nielsen Music.
With the success of these three artists, one can’t help but wonder, is traditional record label deals still the best option for upcoming artists?