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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
When pop stars become music moguls
By Stephen Dowling
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Madonna has sold her stake in her record label Maverick - BBC News Online look at other artists turned label owners.

Noel Gallagher
Noel Gallagher set up his own label, Sour Mash
Maverick was one of the most high-profile labels launched by a pop star - releasing Alanis Morissette's multi-million selling debut Jagged Little Pill as well as music by heavy rock band The Deftones and US singer Michelle Branch.

But it was by no means the most successful.

From punk band Bad Religion (who run hugely successful imprint Epitaph) to Bristol trip-hop collective Massive Attack (with Melankolic) to former 80s pop star Boy George (who has dance label More Protein), stars have put their money where their mouths are.

In the 1950s, the Reprise label - an offshoot of Warner that has been home to Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix and The B-52s over the years - was set up as a vanity label for Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra made millions from albums released on the label, but was always horrified that counter-culture bands were making so much money - even if he was receiving some of the proceeds.

Madonna's Maverick launched Alanis Morissette to international stardom
At the peak of their powers in 1967, The Beatles formed Apple Corps - pun probably intended - to promote young artists, including musicians.

Its roster included acts like the easy-listening pop group Badfinger, but made headlines more for their chaotic finances than their commercial success.

Led Zeppelin had more joy thanks to their Swan Song label in the US in the early 1970s, which signed chart-topping rock band Bad Company.

Music journalist Steve Jelbert, who has written on the subject of artists' labels, says they are often a bad idea - precisely because they are set up by musicians.

There are a handful of people who are spotting talent as their bands tour the world
James Roberts, Music Week
"They don't have a good reputation because one major problem is musicians generally don't listen to much music," he says.

"If they're any good they tend to be making music themselves," he says. "Often it's quite surprising how bad musicians' taste is.

"The Maverick case is quite interesting - it's something you thought would have worked. Warners wanted to use Madonna's prestige - but there is no way she could run a business like that hands on."

James Roberts, the A&R editor at Music Week magazine, says there are three main reasons why artists set up labels.

Gallagher label

"You have bands like Simply Red having to do it because no-one else will release their records.

"You have other artists who are offered 'vanity labels' by record companies trying to sign them and they want some leverage for the deal.

"And there are a handful of people who are spotting talent as their bands tour the world."

Massive Attack
Massive Attack have also joined the label-owning set
Members from the two bands who defined Britpop - Oasis' Noel Gallagher and Blur's Graham Coxon - have both set up their own labels.

Coxon set up Transcopic to release his solo records while still a member of Blur. The label also released songs from up-and-coming group Mower.

Gallagher's Sour Mash has so far signed the retro-rock group Proud Mary - but Gallagher has hardly swapped fronting Oasis for becoming a rock svengali.

Mr Roberts says: "It appears easy. But they do it once and then find it's a lot harder than they think it is."

College launches own record label
11 Mar 04 |  Somerset

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