Well, the way net-labels are set up these days they don’t really do much other than group a bunch of artists under one umbrella. Maybe you get some sort of organizational or financial help, but that’s fleeting and usually non-existent.
Labels that work really well are analogous to collectives. Ninja Tune, Wax Trax, Cleopatra, Ed Banger, Elephant 6 — what makes (or made) these labels/collectives valuable to me is that they essentially are a genre. So there’s built-in crossover that happens just by being an Ed Banger artist or an Elephant 6 artist. Fans who like artists under the umbrella will check out other artists due to the endorsement of being included.
Does anyone get a Warner Brothers album and go “wow, I gotta check out more of these Warner Brothers artists”?
To me a collective can be greater than the sum of its parts. And there’s no reason why the collective couldn’t hire the same PR/distribution folks that the labels do.
If I were going to leverage a collective off of Brad Sucks, I’d stick to other artists and bands I thought Brad Sucks fans might enjoy (not necessarily 100% the same, but in the neighborhood) and that way you can have a nice rotating bunch of entertainment for fans. When I’m (as Brad Sucks) agonizing over a new album for three years, there can be other artists in a similar vein for people to enjoy and benefit from me being a slacker. And vice-versa.
It seems unrealistic to think that one artist or band will be able to organically sustain a tremendous amount of interest over long bouts of inactivity. I think a collective would distribute it out among many different artists and potentially pool more resources and bring in a lot more money than one artist on their own could.
That was a long reply.