Tyscot Records co-founded in 1976 by Dr. Leonard Scott is the oldest Black-owned Gospel recording label in the nation. Initially operated from offices in his dental practice, today Tyscot Records is home to some of the biggest names in the gospel industry including Anthony Brown & Group Therapy, the Rance Allen Group, VaShawn Mitchell, Shirley Murdock and many others including Bishop Scott himself.
Pastor Bryant Scott, who is Bishop Scott’s son serves as President & General Manager and is the interviewee for this article.
CFU: What makes an independent label independent?
Tyscot: There are three remaining major music conglomerates (Sony, Universal, & Warner). An independent label is a label that is not owned by one of these majors. You also have some large independent music companies, i.e. E-One Entertainment. Many independent labels are distributed by the majors.
Tyscot Records Difference
In the current gospel music space you have RCA Inspirational (aka Verity Records) which is owned by Sony, Motown Gospel which is owned by Universal, and then your larger independent labels (Tyscot, Light (E-One), Malaco, Central South), and an array of up-and-coming independent labels. Tyscot is a little unique in that our distribution for the majority of our catalog is through the major Warner Music Group, but we also have and have had licensing and co-branding arrangements with other majors and independents for various artists and products.
CFU: Generally, what do labels look for when deciding upon a new artist?
Tyscot: Although all labels must look at the sales potential and overall talent of a new artists, labels have varying individual criteria they consider for a new artist to fit their company culture and goals.
Social Media Footprint
Tyscot is ministry-focused, and we select artists based on their ability to effectively minister to a large segment of the African-American population. These days, in addition to their musical talent and ministry presentation, we also look at their social media footprint and effectiveness in engaging via those platforms.
CFU: What’s one of the most common mistakes would-be artists make?
Tyscot: The most common mistake I’ve witnessed during my 30-year tenure is that many artists simply do not efficiently utilize their number one asset (their number one stake-holder), which is THEMSELVES. The number one promoter, salesman, producer, and even fan of any artist MUST BE THEM. And even after being signed to a label, they must continue to work harder than anyone else for their career.
CFU: What is the general protocol for new artists to approach a label they are interested in? Or is it usually invite only?
Tyscot: Most artists get signed because of some connection (introduced by another artist or industry person seen performing at some venue, etc.). Very few artists get signed from just submitting a demo package to a label. Companies have even started using social media and YouTube to find new artists.
Therefore, my suggestion for a new artist is to promote themselves to the best of their ability, utilizing industry conferences, church conferences, and social media. They must make sure that their package (songs, production, performance, look) is superior to the gluttony of available noise competing for the consumer’s time and ears.
The cream always rises to the top, and labels are in the business of partnering with the cream.