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Raye discusses becoming an independent artist after being released from Polydor contract

By | Published on Monday 27 September 2021


Raye has commented on her work towards self-releasing a debut album, after being released from her record contract with Universal Music’s Polydor earlier this year. She says that she put her “neck on the line” by speaking out about the lack of support she was getting from her former label.

The musician made headlines in June this year when she tweeted angrily about her relationship with Polydor, saying: “I have been signed to a major label since 2014 and I have had albums and albums of music sat in folders collecting dust, songs I am now giving away to A-list artists because I am still awaiting confirmation that I am good enough to release an album”.

“I know this is the kind of thing I’m suppose to keep behind closed doors”, she went on. “But I have worked and waited and hustled and given everything I have and if I am going to suffer I am not going to do it in silence anymore”.

Raye is certainly not the first artist to experience this problem. Many artists before her have been signed in a flurry of excitement and then, once locked into a deal, found themselves at the back of the queue, with no enthusiasm at the label to get some music out there.

It happens for various reasons, including shifts in a company’s priorities or key personnel leaving. But whatever the reasons, it’s a major issue for any artist who is eager to get releasing but struggling to get a slot in their label’s release schedule. And, of course, the exclusivity clause in the record contract means they can’t go elsewhere.

She tells the Guardian that – five years after being signed – she was told by an exec in 2019 that her position at the label was “like you’re 6-0 down at half-time”. Eventually she was able to release 2020 mini-album ‘Euphoric Sad Songs’. However, despite it being popular with fans, the record was apparently deemed a flop by the record company.

“What actually should matter is having artists who build fanbases and sell out shows and stream music, regardless of what genre it is”, she says. “Having a top ten is not defining. What it showed me was that we were aiming for two completely different things and we always have been. What makes them proud isn’t what makes me proud”.

What is unusual in this particular story is that – three weeks after complaining about her label’s lack of support – she was released from her contract. Having initially said it was “saddened” by her social media comments, Polydor confirmed the “decision to part ways”, saying that it had been “amicable and mutual”.

“Raye is an incredible artist and we have very much enjoyed working with her over the years, achieving some great things together”, the label said in a statement. “We wish her all the very best for the future”.

“The fact that they did let me go, I’m so grateful, because it could have gone all matters of dark”, she says now. “The shit I have been through, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. I am just beside myself about how the beautiful songwriters that I know, a lot of whom are women, and a lot of whom are women of colour, are just hustling out here. I’m angry, I’m raging”.

“I am not trying to sign anything for a very long time”, she adds. “I do not want to see a contract. I don’t want to care about stats. I just want to build a fanbase and release my album. My time is coming”.