#1
So for an assignment for my grade 12 ela class i decided to write a paper on the pros and cons of record labels. i was wondering if you guys had some imput that could help me out.
#4
You'll need to address different aspirations for musicians as part of it - without a record label to back you, fund you, and organise the million and one things that musicians need (promotion in particular), you have absolutely no hope of ever being a stereotypical "rock star". It's just not possible. However, it's relatively easy now (compared to the conditions in which record labels became so dominant) to have a wide fanbase, play gigs, produce good quality recorded music, and earn a certain amount of money without one at all.
#5
That Albini article has almost become a meme. It does have some merit, but it really does highlight your worst-case scenario - a bad deal that got through because the artist had a crappy entertainment lawyer. (or none at all). If you walk into a bad deal these days, it's kinda your own damned fault. People should know better by now.

That said, dealing with a label is a trade-off.

Without one, you get 100% of all your profits, but you get no help from anyone outside of friends and fans.

With one, you get a much smaller percentage of the profits, but you get help and financial backing from tons of people with tons of connections and tons of money.

Let's say, on your own, you sell 5000 copies of your CD. At $10 each, that's $50 000. All yours. (well... the band's...)

Now, you sell your soul and sign to a label.... now, instead of getting $10 each, you get $1. But with the support of your label, you can sell a whole lot more than the 5000 you would have sold on your own. Let's say you sell 100 000 copies. Well, that's $100 000. Sure, you lose some control over your compositions, and you're tied exclusively to a business relationship with them and so forth... but in the end, you've doubled your take-home. You've also expanded your touring base and can now play across the country and hook up with other larger bands for bigger shows, increasing your live revenue substantially.

Obviously, these are just "let's just say" numbers, and the alternative possibilities are endless. There are also things like recoupments and such that factor in (invariably), but this is a very general way of looking at the label vs no label argument.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#6
Now, that's not to suggest that signing to a label will always mean more money.

Here are a few things that can happen: (all *actual* experiences from bands I personally know)

1. Label signs band. Label waits for "the right time" to release the record. (ex. waiting for the album from so-and-so to start fading off, as that represents direct competition for you). In the meantime, times get hard and the label folds. Assets are frozen. Band has 25 000 copies of CD in a warehouse that they cannot access. Label's legal firm starts seeking money from debtors. Because you have not recouped your album sales (yeah, the ones in the warehouse you're not allowed to have....), you are called upon. You spend the next year and a half touring to pay off an album you will never see. (eventually, they released two albums with Zoo records [Tool, Matthew Sweet], a subsidiary of BMG)

2. Label has a writer who has pitched a song, and a band that seems to fit the song perfectly. The song is really not yet complete, though... it's just a chorus. The writer is a big enough name that he has some clout (credits include writing for Judas Priest, Kiss, and Blue Oyster Cult), so the label insists this band use the song, basically to the point of saying, "if you don't put the song on the album, then we're not releasing the album." The singer completes the verses and the song is finished and released, though the outside writer insists that the song remain entirely his, and the singer gets no credit for his contribution to the song. (ownership can be negotiated....) The good news was that the song went on to become a huge hit and became the band's "calling card", allowing them to stick around much longer than they might have, getting on tours with bands like Kiss, have a record release at Capitol in LA, and made a lot more money as a result.

3. Capitol says, basically, "we're going to go big or we're going to go home." They spend a ton of money on production - expensive British producer, expensive video, expensive stage set, etc. More money.... lots of money... for promotion in USA. Sales did not meet expectations, and loses money. The band recoups to the label for the expensive production. Next album on Capitol is given considerably less money for promotion and video, and as a result, doesn't do all that well. Band is dropped from Capitol.

4. Same as story #3, only with a different band on Warner Records. The difference is, this band wasn't given another chance. They did the "go big or go home", spent a ton of money on production of album, video, tour, did the "failed to meet expectations" thing, recouped, and got dumped. They resurfaced a couple years later on a minor label.

In cases 3+4, the band doesn't really have a lot of say in the business plan. That's the label's job. It doesn't change the fact that the band has to deal with the fallout of "failed to meet projected sales expectations."


CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.