The Independent Record Companies

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         Click on the records to read more about these companies

Small independent companies quickly filled the void that was created when the Majors decided to abandon the black record market. These companies were usually one or two person operations who handled the talent, production and business ends.

The owners were ambitious, hardworking and had more then an economic interest in the music in that they generally loved the music they produced. Many owners were woman (e.g., Vivian Bracken of Vee-Jay Jay and Bess Berman of Apollo) and Jews (George Goldner of Gee and Phil and Leonard Chess of Chess)

They enjoyed the advantages of no high salaries or overheads which allowed them independence and freedom of movement. Their offices were often located in poorer neighborhoods where the talent was.  This allowed them to develop personal relationships in the black community.

The necessity of  feeding family and studio costs put enormous pressures for hits. Major hits could put poorly capitalized companies out of business before the profits began rolling in. because

Monetary pressures and\or poor judgements often forced them to sell:

They also had problems with their artist movement,  personal changes, record company buyouts or bankruptcies. Many companies only had themselves to blame for this problem because they often stole writing credits, overcharged for production costs and sent groups on tours that paid little. 

Both Sides Now
Independent Labels of the Early Rock Era
The Indies