A common career trajectory for a musician is to sign with an independent label, and if they're lucky enough, they'll catch the attention of a major label and get signed a lucrative deal. However, some artists don't find the major label life to be very satisfying, and choose to take a step back by signing with an indie label. Here are six major label artists who switched over to indie labels.
Weezer was lucky enough to have formed in 1992, right in the middle of the alt-rock boom Nirvana started, so it never had to toil in obscurity for years on a tiny indie label before making it big. The band signed to Geffen Records in 1993, which released all seven of the band's albums from 1994 to 2009. In 2010, however, the band released its eight album Hurley on independent punk label Epitaph, owned by Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz, perhaps in an attempt to regain some of its lost credibility.
2. Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth is the only band to come out of New York's late '70s No Wave scene to have achieved any sort of mainstream success. After releasing albums on various indie labels during the early to mid-80s, Sonic Youth raised its profile by signing with legendary indie label SST in 1986, and then raised it even more by signing to Geffen in 1990. The band would stay with Geffen for most of its career until 2009, when it released its final album The Eternal on independent Matador Records.
3. Guided By Voices
Unlike the other artists on this list, Guided By Voices returned to the independent world before it even had the chance to release a major label album. 1999's Do the Collapse was produced by Ric Ocasek of the Cars (who also produced Weezer's "Blue Album") and was intended to be released on Capitol Records, but was eventually released on TVT Records instead. Guided By Voices would return to Matador Records for three more albums before breaking up in 2004, though the band would reunite in 2010 and self-release its new albums.
4. Neil Young
With the exception of a disastrous stint with Geffen Records during the '80s, Neil Young has released his music through major label Reprise for most of his career. However, Young's first release on an indie label came just last month, when A Letter Home was released on April 19. The album is a collection of cover songs recorded entirely in Jack White's Voice-o-Graph booth in Nashville, and released through White's Third Man Records.
After releasing its debut album Killing is My Business...and Business is Good! through indie label Combat Records in 1985, Megadeth signed to Capitol Records, who would release the band's next seven albums. In 2000, however, after years of tensions between the band and the label, Megadeth left Capitol and signed with independent Sanctuary Records instead, though the band would eventually return to a major label by signing with Roadrunner, a subsidiary of Warner Bros.
6. Liz Phair
Liz Phair's eponymous 2003 album is one of the most infamous cases of an independent artist blatantly attempting to break through to a mainstream audience. With its glossy pop production and release through Capitol Records, the album confounded and infuriated Phair's fans. She would release one more album with Capitol Records before releasing the also-perplexing Funstyle in 2010 through Rocket Science Records.
Who else has switched over to an independent label? Let us know in the comments section!