This is not the first and won't be the last time that happens. I will mention this story and other examples of record labels that missed opportunities.
I'll start with Daughters of Mara because it's recent and because I hold such a high regard for their music. They were signed to Virgin Records in 2007 and were poised to record an album. They finished recording the album in March of last year. Virgin had merged with Capitol Records during that time period. I don't know if that had a lot to do with what happened with Daughters of Mara, but they officially broke up in December...releasing a major label quality album essentially for free.
April Sixth had a record deal with Columbia in 2005 and were put on a tour with Crossfade. They really could have hit it huge with the song "Dear Angel" and had a whole album recorded and ready to be released. Lead singer Christopher McCracken wound up self-releasing it the next year.
Gone 'Til November, led by lead singer Aimee Proal, had been signed by Epic Records in late 2006. Everything seemed to be going well. They had been tracking for their album and had been playing shows in 2007. However, it seemed like Epic Records was sitting on their hands. By May 2008, the project had been dissolved with no music officially released.
Trading Yesterday was a group formed by former Evanescence member David Hodges in 2004. They were quickly noticed by Epic Records and Trading Yesterday was signed. They were lucky enough to get on the Stealth soundtrack with the song "One Day", but the movie flopped. No excuse not to get the album out, but Epic Records kept pushing the album back which had been due in the fall of 2005 to 2006 and in late 2005, they left Epic Records.
The idea is that when you sign an artist and let them record an album that you put out the album. Instead, it seems like record labels sign artists more to keep them away from other record labels. If the record label sits on their hands like they did to these artists and they leave, their market value declines, which is why none of these projects have survived past leaving.
What makes me upset about these particular artists is that they all had the potential to release great albums. I felt that the last two in particular had the potential for top 40 and platinum success.
I came up with four examples, but it makes me think of how many other times it probably has happened.
I think of some artists that are popular now and think that if one of the four mentioned were given the same chance, they could have done just as well or even better.
Although, rather than just complain about it, I think I have solutions to make it easier for artists to be on major labels.
The biggest one for me is to release digital-only singles and albums. You can still promote said artists on the radio, but releasing it digitally would be a huge cost-cutter. It seems like some labels are starting to release digital albums earlier than physical copies, which helps.
Another idea would be to put out EP's rather than full-fledged albums. I think it would be easier for casual listeners to digest 4 or 5 songs rather than 10 or 11 at a time. It'd also be cheaper to produce because you're only releasing those songs. It really should be what labels do more now with a struggling economy.
Artists could still work as if they were putting out an album and play unreleased stuff live and they wouldn't be under so much pressure because EP's are really only small tastes of what an artist offers.
If record labels can't appreciate their own artists and release their work, then the business as a whole should be less appealing to those that want in.