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#1
My band is just starting to get off its ass and get it together, so I know it might be early to be thinking about record deals. However, I want to get our long-term goals set now so we don't have to argue later over where we want the band to go.

Our biggest indecision lies in whether or not we're aiming for a major record deal. I've heard from a lot of independent bands that major record deals are basically scams and that most bands don't make squat when on a major label (unless they're a top band or something) and lose a ton of creative control and almost all decision-making rights. But that could very well be bias because of them choosing to be independent bands.

The goals we've agreed on are that we all hope to eventually support ourselves solely as musicians, though we realize it may very likely never happen. We also want to tour extensively, but we're not dead-set on playing stadiums or anything like that. And lastly, we want to keep as much creative control as possible.

So I guess I have a few questions:

What can the average musician expect from a major record deal (profit, creative control, etc.)?

How much can an independent band expect to make (ballpark guess)?

Any links to helpful information would be appreciated.
#3
Depends. Some independant labels are pretty big, like XL recordings and Domino and i think are more about the music than making the mega bucks. It's the likes of Sony and Warner that you'd be screwed out of your money.
#4
Depends. Some independant labels are pretty big, like XL recordings and Domino and i think are more about the music than making the mega bucks. It's the likes of Sony and Warner that you'd be screwed out of your money.


They will all try and screw you over. Independent record labels are just a bit less able to do so.

A record label is a company like any other. It's only corporate aim is to maximise its own profit. You, the musician, are their means of making that profit - you're the product they're selling - but they have as little interest in treating you well as, say, McDonalds has in animal welfare. If it's necessary to give you something in order to keep the money rolling in - royalties, advances, a new hat - they will, because not doing so would hurt their profits, but they will certainly not go further than they need to.

Of course, individual people within the company may be dedicated to your music (in fact, lots of them will be: they'll be hired and assigned to you on the basis that they want you to do well, because that's another way of increasing profit, by having people who love the product sell it). And they'll fight your corner to some extent. But they're not going to beat the whole label.
#5
That link was quite interesting, though a bit misleading in some ways. Still, it makes it obvious that major labels do kind of screw the artists (not surprising) and that it's hard to make minimum wage via music (especially with so many people pirating these days.)

I'm leaning towards going independent at this point, though that would make promotion tough and thus sales suffer. It's going to take a lot of thought and research, but we've got plenty of time before we need to make any sort of decision on this.

Thank you all for your responses.
Last edited by Winter Sky at Jul 30, 2011,
#6
http://www.amazon.com/Need-Know-About-Music-Business/dp/0743293185

Excellent book by a music industry lawyer, could answer all your questions about different types of record deals. Your local library might have a copy if you don't want to buy it, but if you're actually seriously interested in finding out about record deals you will find a way to read that book because the guy that wrote it works on them for a living.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#7
Looks promising, but I'm always skeptical of books like that. However, I'm sure I can pick up a used copy for a few dollars, so why the hell not. I was planning on buying a couple novels from Amazon anyway.

Thank you for the help.
#8
I have two things to add to this thread:

1) Record companies will not wrench as much creative control from your hands as you think. If you're a band, they probably signed you because you have marketable music or image. They have no interest in changing a successful formula - if they wanted you to be different, they would have found someone else!

2) Rare is the band that is both independent and popular (i.e. rich). Record companies are beneficial to artists mostly for publicity, whether it be printing and advertising a record, or getting you on major shows and TV networks. The only real big cash you'll make is from shows, while the record company pockets album sales. This is the reason many new bands get dropped as soon as their album comes out - it just doesn't sell fast enough to be considered profitable.
#9
At least nobody has posted the Albini article yet....[ /sarcasm]

Major labels are just another business model.

Going completely independent, as that infographic pointed out, you get the whole pie. However, with most indie artists, it is a decidedly small pie. Hey! You sold 1000 copies of your CD! That's great! Let's see.... that's $10 000.... minus recording and duplication costs....brings us to..... $7000.... divided by four people in the band.... is.... $1750. Yay. Sure, some bands sell well over 1000 copies, and most sell well less than that. Message: It's hard to make a go of it entirely on your own. Four guys selling CD's at shows, hitting three towns a week kind of thing.

Let's compare this to a major label model. You know how before you were making about $7 per disc after expenses? Well... now you're making about a dollar per unit sold, and that's *before* expenses. Sound crappy? Well.... it could be. I mean you are getting a teenie-tiny slice of the pie whereas before you were getting the whole thing. The difference, though, is that we are dealing with a MUCH larger pie. You have a team of people working on your behalf with ready access to international marketing and promotion infrastructure. Sony sends the disc to radio, and it's automatically given consideration. Warner sends it to retail and it's automatically on the shelf. Universal sends it to Hollywood and it's automatically a contender for sound-tracks. There will be a video or two or three on MTV, and with enough money behind it, it will get played a few times a day. etc., etc., etc. All YOU have to do is do what you're told, go where your scheduled itinerary tells you to go, and have a stock list of "be sure to say" items for interviews. (all the while working on that next record....) You get to leave the business end of things to the business people, for the most part.

Let's see what this looks like:

700 000 copies sold = $700 000. Minus videos, recording costs, tour wardrobes, bus, blah, blah, blah, other what they like to call "recoupables." Okay, so you're down to $150 000. Divided by four people in the band is... $37 500. Add to that the extra income from live shows where, instead of playing to a half-full bar in Nantucket, you're opening for your label-mates in Green Day in stadiums, supported by playing theatres and convention centres on the tour's "off" days, and you're doing much better.

Of course, the beauty of numbers is that you can make them say anything you want. Sometimes - both of those scenarios - you will do much better.... or much worse.

With labels, it is still very much a lottery of who will make the big bucks and who won't. The reality is that the Green Days and Nickelbacks and Celine Dions of the world make it possible for the labels to take chances on the artists many of us will like better - in kinda the same way that, once you've purchased a lottery ticket that wins $100, you don't so much mind spending an extra $5 on a couple of scratch tickets. And who knows? The damned thing just might win.

But like most lotteries, most tickets do not win. True story: I know a guy who was in a band signed to Zoo records. The label was doing pretty well. Everything was recorded. The papers were signed. The album would be released to coincide with a tour, and when product started selling, the band could start recouping some of their expenses, and with a little luck, they'd all make a boat-load of cash. At the time, the Ugly Kid Joe record was hot, and was seen as competition. The label decided to wait until UKJ started running out of steam before releasing this other band. Well, as it turned out, they waited too long. The label went into receivership, which meant that all of their assets were frozen. So, the first 20 000 copies of this CD that was ready to go became property of the lenders who the label was in debt to. The band couldn't touch them. The label couldn't touch them. Long story short, the band had to go on tour for a year to pay the label BACK for the recording and duplication costs of the CD... and nobody could even touch the CD!

Like every other lottery... the higher the risk, the higher the stakes, and the higher the payout. But most don't win... or at least don't win much.

Now, about being screwed over:

Personally, I think this is really over-stated. This happened whole-sale back before bands became business-savvy. We've all heard the stories about how the Beatles don't get a lick of their merchandising money and that sort of thing.... and about how Billy Joel had to file for personal bankruptcy due to being screwed over by his manager. But these days... even the mostly least-savvy of musicians know that they should get an entertainment lawyer to help them navigate any contracts that involve high risk, high rewards, etc. As long as you have a half-decent entertainment lawyer, the only way you get screwed over is if you let them and you walk into it willingly.

Otherwise, it's not that you got screwed over. It's that you bet a mit-full on the roulette wheel, and the numbers weren't rolling your way.

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.
#10
Oh, yeah... about creative control:

There are three major labels left standing. That's a testament to how risky the business of music is, and to how much of an impact that theft can potentially have on an industry.

The ones left standing didn't get there because they're *just* lucky. They know how to play the game. They know what sells, how to sell it, when to sell it, and who to sell it to, and how to get them to buy it. This is what makes them a business.

You know when you sell your home, the real-estate agent will suggest that you paint in neutral colours, that you tidy the basement, de-clutter, move some stuff into storage, get rid of many "personal" photographs, etc? Are they doing that because they like to make you do sh!t just for kicks? Because they're malevolent pr!cks who just want to see how far they can manipulate you? No. They make you do that stuff because they know what sells houses.

This is what the record labels are doing when they try to tweak your image, tweak your sound, etc. That said, as the poster above said, there shouldn't be *too* much of that going on, because there are so many zillions of bands out there just waiting to sell their souls to get into the music biz, that out of them, at least a few of them will *already* be doing what will sell and looking like the public wants them to look.

They're in the business of selling music. They rely on bands to produce the music for them to sell. God knows that there are enough of them out there that it almost qualifies as the proverbial "infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters."

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.
#11
We're all too aware of our slim odds of success and the infinite amount of competition out there, but we don't have anything else. It may be the most cliche a musician can say, but the truth is that none of us can bear the thought of living out our lives working normal jobs, so we're willing to bet our futures on music.

I think most of the band is leaning towards independent labels, as doing everything ourselves seems as if it would leave us with little time to actually make and play music (not to mention the obvious problems such as lack of exposure, funds, etc.) I'm still going to buy that book and give it a read (I found one for less than five bucks and free shipping) because I'm sure the in-depth insight will help.

We're currently working on getting our website presence established and looking for jobs to fund the band. Thank you all for the helpful replies; it's really helped us get motivated and psyched up for our risky adventure into the music business. Wish us luck!
#12
Quote by Winter Sky
We're all too aware of our slim odds of success and the infinite amount of competition out there, but we don't have anything else. It may be the most cliche a musician can say, but the truth is that none of us can bear the thought of living out our lives working normal jobs, so we're willing to bet our futures on music.


Buy some lottery tickets while you're at it mate. That'll give you a back up plan with equal chances of succeeding.

However if you're willing to bet your life on music, it's incredibly strange that you'd then turn down a major label contract.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#13
It's not so much a mindset that I'd instantly turn down a major label contract but a realistic look at the odds of getting a major label deal and apprehension to jump right into one should the opportunity ever arise.
#14
Quote by Winter Sky
It's not so much a mindset that I'd instantly turn down a major label contract but a realistic look at the odds of getting a major label deal and apprehension to jump right into one should the opportunity ever arise.


The odds of getting signed? Pretty much nothing. I know bands that have had massive followings, and seemed to just peak, and everyone was like "yeah, they're the next big one" and.......nothing happened. After that it just seems to go down.

On the other hand you can have Justin Bieber, who was signed off youtube.


Who knows how to get signed? Pretty much nobody. You just have to make yourself really, really noticable, prove you can make cash and hope for the best.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#15
Make sure you read and UNDERSTAND any contract you sign. Don't just take "their" word for what it says. READ and UNDERSTAND what you are signing into. Major record label or not, there is no "standard contract".

Quick side-story, I was working for EMI back in 2005 and they were pushing the new Korn album HARD. No idea why, it was aweful. Anyways, it just goes to show how the big labels will put a lot more effort and money into a sinking ship than they will put into a new act. YOU will have to do more work than you could ever believe.

If music is your life and blah blah blah, when the whole becoming famous thing doesn't work out and you're ready to move out of your parents basement, I'd suggest working backstage at a music venue (there are usually some non-union positions) or become a music promoter. Or become an entertainment lawyer so you can help fellow musicians from getting screwed by record labels.
#16
Alright, seeing as how I'm only getting passive-aggressive responses at this point, I'm gonna go ahead and stop watching this thread. Many thanks to those that were actually helpful.
#17
Quote by Winter Sky
Alright, seeing as how I'm only getting passive-aggressive responses at this point, I'm gonna go ahead and stop watching this thread. Many thanks to those that were actually helpful.


Although you're no longer watching this thread, I'll try to justify some of the responses. You asked a legitimate, real-world question, and you received legitimate, real-world answers. Of course it's everyone's dream to become a rock star. However, the recording industry, thanks to file sharing, has been on a bit of a decline. The touring industry, thanks to the economy, has also been on a bit of a decline. Ask any touring band who has been on the road for a few years how much they actually enjoy sleeping in their van, having gear get stolen, being short-changed by bar owners, being away from family and friends for long periods, etc.

The main point is, by the time you're offered a recording contract (never mind multiple offers!), you won't have to ask which one you should take. You'll know what to do.
#18
Quote by Winter Sky
Alright, seeing as how I'm only getting passive-aggressive responses at this point, I'm gonna go ahead and stop watching this thread. Many thanks to those that were actually helpful.


Perhaps the wording of some of my comments have been a little confronting. It may be best for you to approach one of the biggest unsigned bands in your area and ask them what their experiences are with attempting to get signed.

Otherwise everything has been said is true. The truth is that if you're just forming a band and are considering what sort of record deal you're going to accept, you don't have that much experience in the industry, what it takes to create a product that people like, make cash, and get signed.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#19
Yeah, practically all of the posts were really good, and he was complaining. Go figure.

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.
#20
Wow...

OK, for anyone aside from the OP who is curious as well, the majority of the posts here provide good advice/information and vaild opinions.

I've signed to majors, I've signed to independents... Both have pros and cons.
That being said, no multi-year deal is worth ANYTHING if you don't come out of the gate with something strong that the record company will get behind and sell. If you don't generate a solid profit for them, they'll simply walk away from their second year option...

With a major label, after all the deductions and clauses and recoupables and foreign discounts, count yourself lucky if you as an individual bandmember see $0.20 for every CD you sell AFTER the record company has recouped all your recording/video/tour support expenses and you've paid your manager and lawyer.
The more they're willing to invest up front, the better chance you have that they'll follow that investment with the necessary promotion you need to make something happen. Get the largest recording advance and the biggest name producer they're willing to afford... he'll most likely take points on your product in addition to his up front fee, but that's the price for making sure industry people have the personal incentives to do their best work and help sell your product after the fact.

With an independent, be prepared for two possible scenarios. Either they front you a modest $5,000 - 10,000 recording budget (which means you're recording locally with no budget for a professional producer), or you front the recording expenses yourselves and you sell them the licensing rights for certain territories and any other perks you can negotiate. You might be able to split several dollars per CD by going that route.... but how many you sell is based primarily on their ability to distribute and market you... don't count on much aside from their established internet connections and "trader network".
Maybe they'll invest $5000 to fly you to Wacken and take their chances getting you in front of several thousand people, or maybe you'll justify that expense on your own in order to generate some buzz and open some doors (not a bad thing to consider... most any festival promoter can find you a spot when it doesn't cost them a nickel to add you on the bill).

All in all, when all the rhetoric and BS is over, the most important thing to remember is that money talks. No matter who you're dealing with, if they don't offer tour support and provide some very definite tour opener slot potential, then they have no genuine plan to make you a success beyond tossing another dart at the wall to see if it sticks.

Nobody will look out for your best interests better than you.
And, ultimately, when you're in the music business, the only people you can trust are those who only get what they want by you getting what you want. Write that down.

And yes, the Internet is responsible for killing the survivability of independent artists far more than it's potential to earn them a dollar. Nobody will buy what they can get for free, and torrents/file sharing are deadly to 98% of us. You can't afford to buy t-shirts to sell, record your next song, or convince a promoter to put you on tour based on suspected popularity just because you estimate that 100,000 people have downloaded your album for free... it's about tracking actual regional distribution and sales figures. The pirates sell ads and download services as we get raped by leeches who claim to be fans. And, what record company is going to sign you when they know they've already lost all those potential sales because you sent an advance CD out to a dozen guys who told you they were webzine writers and one of them decided to "share" your new album?...
Last edited by Terry Gorle at Aug 1, 2011,
#21
Quote by Terry Gorle
And yes, the Internet is responsible for killing the survivability of independent artists far more than it's potential to earn them a dollar. Nobody will buy what they can get for free, and torrents/file sharing are deadly to 98% of us. You can't afford to buy t-shirts to sell, record your next song, or convince a promoter to put you on tour based on suspected popularity just because you estimate that 100,000 people have downloaded your album for free... it's about tracking actual regional distribution and sales figures. The pirates sell ads and download services as we get raped by leeches who claim to be fans. And, what record company is going to sign you when they know they've already lost all those potential sales because you sent an advance CD out to a dozen guys who told you they were webzine writers and one of them decided to "share" your new album?...

I agree that the pirates making profit off of advertising are douchebags, but IMO if you're relying on people buying your album so you can afford to print t-shirts, you're doing it backwards. You should be relying on people buying your t-shirts so you can afford to record your album.

And yes, the initial costs for both the album recording AND the t-shirt printing are going to come out of your pocket, and will continue to come out of your pocket until you've built enough of a fanbase to sustain the business on its own. And if you expect people to buy either the shirt OR the album, you need to promote the crap out of it yourself. You can't just throw an album out there and then whine about piracy destroying your profits; you need to take piracy into account when putting your music out there, and build your business plan around it.

The internet (and piracy) can work to your advantage, if you know what to do with it. You probably won't get filthy rich, and it'll take a lot more time, but you build a pretty sustainable business around your band even with people stealing your music.
Last edited by Scourge441 at Aug 1, 2011,
#22
Quote by Scourge441
I agree that the pirates making profit off of advertising are douchebags, but IMO if you're relying on people buying your album so you can afford to print t-shirts, you're doing it backwards. You should be relying on people buying your t-shirts so you can afford to record your album.

And yes, the initial costs for both the album recording AND the t-shirt printing are going to come out of your pocket, and will continue to come out of your pocket until you've built enough of a fanbase to sustain the business on its own. And if you expect people to buy either the shirt OR the album, you need to promote the crap out of it yourself. You can't just throw an album out there and then whine about piracy destroying your profits; you need to take piracy into account when putting your music out there, and build your business plan around it.

The internet (and piracy) can work to your advantage, if you know what to do with it. You probably won't get filthy rich, and it'll take a lot more time, but you build a pretty sustainable business around your band even with people stealing your music.


Have your opinion, but I speak from experience.
I've fought bootleggers and tape traders in the 80's before CD's ever existed... my music has been pirated for over 25 years. I spent the better part of 2 days last week alone writing to DCMA addresses to get the latest batch of pirated compilation downloads of my music removed from Google blogs and a dozen networked upload/downlod sites based all over the world.
I know how many CD's and digital downloads I sell on a monthly basis, and I know how many illegal downloads took place from ONE site in the week before I took action...
Its' a 500:1 ratio. Only a fool would attempt to justify that as a promotional tool.

I've got a stack of magazines 4' tall with CD reviews, concert reviews, and interviews over the years... it feels great, but trust me, they don't pay the rent.

When someone needs to invest $60,000 in t-shirts and promotions in an attempt to generate $25,000 in profit from t-shirt sales (assuming you sell them all), I think most bands would skip the tedium of filling orders and standing in line at the post office for 6 months in order go to the studio with $25,000 in the first place, saving the other $35,000 for tour support and taking their chances...

If I had $1 for every illegal bootleg or download, I might have been able to make a living at one point or another over the past 25 years without relying on construction work.
Last edited by Terry Gorle at Aug 1, 2011,
#23
Hi Terry, welcome to our forum. It's good to see a person with actual label experience here. Could you explain what you went through to get signed?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#24
Quote by Winter Sky
My band is just starting to get off its ass and get it together, so I know it might be early to be thinking about record deals. However, I want to get our long-term goals set now so we don't have to argue later over where we want the band to go.

Our biggest indecision lies in whether or not we're aiming for a major record deal. I've heard from a lot of independent bands that major record deals are basically scams and that most bands don't make squat when on a major label (unless they're a top band or something) and lose a ton of creative control and almost all decision-making rights. But that could very well be bias because of them choosing to be independent bands.

The goals we've agreed on are that we all hope to eventually support ourselves solely as musicians, though we realize it may very likely never happen. We also want to tour extensively, but we're not dead-set on playing stadiums or anything like that. And lastly, we want to keep as much creative control as possible.

So I guess I have a few questions:

What can the average musician expect from a major record deal (profit, creative control, etc.)?

How much can an independent band expect to make (ballpark guess)?

Any links to helpful information would be appreciated.



Are you going to turn down a Major label based on the advice you get here?

If you actually have the chance to work with a Major label, Id say the answer is in all likelyhood YAY, hell yay. But lets be honest, the chances of that happening are slim.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 1, 2011,
#25
Thanks Terry, it is refreshing to hear from someone who has actual experience in the music industry.

I've firmly believed, starting about 8-9 years ago when I started studying the music business, that the recording industry needs to change it's business model. My first experience with file sharing was scour.net. On 28.8k, it was about as threatening to the industry as street vendor bootlegs. Then Napster came along. Then DSL, Cable, Usenet, Limewire, Bearshare, T1, youtube, and now torrents (I know I'm missing quite a few).

Anyways, gone are the days of making money off record sales, whether anyone likes it or not.

And back to the OP, when he actually receives the multiple offers and posts up the different contracts from the major labels and the indies, only then can we actually tell him what the best opportunity would be.
#26
Quote by ibarrg7
Anyways, gone are the days of making money off record sales, whether anyone likes it or not.


I would even argue that in terms of commercial profit, the days of the album are nearly over. They're really only useful for artistic purposes, whilst the main record buying market (teenagers) will generally download the single from itunes and not bother with the rest.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#27
Back in the '50's and '60's, the industry was primarily singles-driven. Along came the '70's, and it all changed to albums. Even the industry term AOR was born.

We have certainly seen a return to the business model of "singles."

To say that it is impossible to make money from album sales may be prematurely defeatist. Let's apply the same rationale to racism in the '60's. "You can't stop it. It's not going away and there's nothing you can do."

What needs to happen is a cultural shift that recognizes and values the creative process, and respects intellectual property. When we go from "stealing is okay because everybody does it" to "stealing makes you a d!ck", then we can monetize our creative processes again.

This goes well beyond music. It goes to movies, literature, and even academic pursuits. I mean, if it's okay to steal music, why isn't it okay to steal other intellectual property... say... an English essay, or a History dissertation? Or a patent design?

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.
#28
Quote by AlanHB
Hi Terry, welcome to our forum. It's good to see a person with actual label experience here. Could you explain what you went through to get signed?

Hell and back.

It's a long story.
First, don't put the cart before the horse worrying about labels...

The best thing any band can do is rehearse your songs and your show to the extent that you could open for any of the current successful bands on tour playing your genre of music and look like you belong there. Then, when you're that good, it will be relatively easy to earn an audience and respect. When labels start soliciting you because they've already heard the buzz, you'll have better leverage to negotiate.

You need to be realistic and honest with yourselves. Watch your favorite band's videos. Know what you need to represent. If you aren't good enough yet, don't play shows prematurely and make a bad impression. Don't waste money sending out promo packages. Spend your energy on rehearsal and prepare to make the first impression one that nobody will forget. That's how you come out from nowhere as an overnight success... years of homework.

When we were active, we rehearsed 5 days a week, 3-5 hours per day... we went though the live set twice... once in recording mode playing as accurately as possible, once in show mode breaking a sweat and running around. Then, we'd work on new ideas... There is no replacement for time spent together to create the musical bond where you can read each other's minds about where an idea should go next. That chemistry is essential to creative productivity. Most bands can't imagine that kind of schedule, but that's the catch-22... you'll never become professionals unless you're prepared to devote a professional level of time to the project.

You never know when the phone is going to ring, and you need to be ready.

We got the call one day with 3 hours of advance notice to replace Poison opening for David Lee Roth in the Seattle Center Coliseum in 1988... when Steve Vai was playing in Roth's band... He smiled and gave me a thumb's up from the side of the stage that I'll never forget.
15,000 people, and Capitol had reps there. That was the beginning of that record deal...
Last edited by Terry Gorle at Aug 2, 2011,
#29
Quote by Terry Gorle
We got the call one day with 3 hours of advance notice to replace Poison opening for David Lee Roth in the Seattle Center Coliseum in 1988... when Steve Vai was playing in Roth's band... He smiled and gave me a thumb's up from the side of the stage that I'll never forget.
15,000 people, and Capitol had reps there. That was the beginning of that record deal...


And you scored a story that made my girlfriend and I go "wow!". Bet your friends are tired of that one

Was it worth it?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#30
Pretty awesome story.

I saw DLR and Poison on that tour back in the day when they hit Toronto. Good show.

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.
#31
Quote by AlanHB
And you scored a story that made my girlfriend and I go "wow!". Bet your friends are tired of that one

Was it worth it?

Most of my friends either don't know or couldn't care less what I did in the 80's...
That, in a nutshell, is one reason I'm here... to share some experiences and provide some perspective with people who might get something from it.

Was it worth it?

Well, it was a great experience, and it opened some doors... but it also confirmed what you might expect about a young band being taken advantage of... we replaced Poison in a situation where they were on the rise, and they were the main draw. The promoters threw us to the wolves, as many in the audience had no idea Poison had cancelled (their bassist fell off the stage the night before in Spokane and injured his back). And the genre wasn't a good fit... a progressive power metal band replacing candyass rock. To top it off, the thanks we got for bailing Roth out was an order from the staff that we weren't even allowed to meet or talk to him if we saw him backstage.... that, and a check for $500.
Last edited by Terry Gorle at Aug 4, 2011,
#32
Quote by Terry Gorle
Most of my friends either don't know or couldn't care less what I did in the 80's...


That's kinda sad. Not knowing is one thing, but when your "friends" don't care what you did, when that was a really "interesting" thing just strikes me as kinda sad.

Quote by Terry Gorle

That, in a nutshell, is one reason I'm here... to share some experiences and provide some perspective with people who might get something from it.


Which is awesome for us. AFAIK, you're the only one here who can share those kinds of experiences from a "first hand" perspective.


Quote by Terry Gorle

we replaced Poison in a situation where they were on the rise, and they were the main draw. The promoters threw us to the wolves, as many in the audience had no idea Poison had cancelled (their bassist fell off the stage the night before in Spokane and injured his back).


I'm going to play the devil's advocate here and say that pretty much any band in that situation would have had their backs to the wall. Yes, Poison was huge and was likely the main draw, despite the fact that they were opening for DLR. As a fan, how would YOU feel if the band you just paid $50 (because that's what tickets were back then) to see was taken off the bill and replaced with someone else? Not only are you not getting your money back because it's not the headliner who cancelled, but then you find out that the replacement is a band that does not have the mainstream draw. Lots of fans were already probably kinda pissed, even before any of you played your first note.

Quote by Terry Gorle

And the genre wasn't a good fit... a progressive power metal band replacing candyass rock.


... and that's direct from the "to add insult to injury" files. Back then, people were really stuck on their genres. It wasn't a terrible fit, but when you were expecting Poison, for most people, prog metal probably wasn't a pleasant surprise.

I hope you guys didn't take that personally. IMHO, that was a battle that nobody could have won.

Quote by Terry Gorle

To top it off, the thanks we got for bailing Roth out was an order from the staff that we weren't even allowed to meet or talk to him if we saw him backstage.... that, and a check for $500.


My first instinct here was to react with "man, you guys got hosed." But then I started looking at it from other angles. I still think you probably got hosed, but bear with me for a bit here.

About DLR: He did have a reputation for being pretty arrogant. Though inexcusable, it's not uncommon. Fairly recently, here is a story that is sort of similar.... but worse....

A good acquaintance of mine is the singer from Helix. One of their biggest hits was "Rock You" which was huge. The album it was on went triple platinum here in Canada, and at least gold in the US. They were opening for KISS on their Unmasked tour. They were a big thing. Anyway, this band Sum 41 covered that song for a movie soundtrack called Fubar. Sum 41 was a fairly popular, though a "flash-in-the-pan" pop punk band that did really well here and were playing arenas and stuff. So, Sum 41 invites Brian (singer from Helix who co-wrote the song) to sing Rock You with them at this arena show. Brian and his wife show up and, long and short, are treated like second class citizens the whole time they were there, except for the three minutes where they called him up on stage to sing HIS song with them that THEY were covering. Douche-bags.

About the $500... I can't help but imagine that they *could* have paid you more. One thing we don't know is whether or not Poison was being paid anyways, even though they weren't playing. Who knows what the particulars of their contract were. So maybe the $500 they paid you was considered an "incidental expense" that wasn't budgeted for? Who knows, right? But even that being the case, that was a successful tour. A few hundred bucks should not have sunk that ship for the promoter, and my guess is, the promoter was just being greedy.

From his point of view: (yes, greedy... but it could have gone like this). "So, I've got this opening slot for DLR that I have to fill tomorrow. The tickets are sold, and they ARE just a fill-in, so even if they suck, it really doesn't matter. It won't affect the bottom line of the tour. The terms of Poison's contract are that they get paid for the tour, not by the show, so I have to pay them anyways, which means this is money coming out of my take at the end. I've had my eyes on a nice little BMW for my wife. Coughing up $5000 will really eat into that. I mean, I *could* get a thousand bands who are willing to do it for nothing - who will even sell their first-born to do it for nothing. But that wouldn't be right. I should get someone good, and I should pay them something... idunno.... $500? I mean, that would *seem* like a LOT of money to a young band... and they'd get the honour of opening for DLR to sweeten the pie. Who would say no to that?"

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.
#33
Quote by Terry Gorle

We got the call one day with 3 hours of advance notice to replace Poison opening for David Lee Roth in the Seattle Center Coliseum in 1988... when Steve Vai was playing in Roth's band... He smiled and gave me a thumb's up from the side of the stage that I'll never forget.
15,000 people, and Capitol had reps there. That was the beginning of that record deal...



(link)

p.s. You wouldn't happen to be the "Heir Apparent" Terry Gorle, would you?
Actually, I go by Dave, but there are already too many Daves on this forum.


Fender MIM Stratocaster
Fender Jaguar Bass
Epiphone EJ200 Super Jumbo
Fender Excelsior 13w
Acoustic B300HD (with matching 1x12 cab)
BOSS BD-2W
NYC Big Muff Pi
Last edited by kangaxxter at Aug 4, 2011,
#34
Quote by kangaxxter
(link)

p.s. You wouldn't happen to be the "Heir Apparent" Terry Gorle, would you?

If the name and sig to the left weren't a dead giveaway, then think of me as just another pathetic old guy reliving his failed attempt at past glory...

That Wayne's World clip is hilarious.


====

And Chris, your take on the DLR situation is spot on.
Last edited by Terry Gorle at Aug 4, 2011,
#35
Quote by Terry Gorle
If the name and sig to the left weren't a dead giveaway, then think of me as just another pathetic old guy reliving his failed attempt at past glory...

That Wayne's World clip is hilarious.



Naw, that's pretty cool. My brother has your second album.

I think it's great having old pros who know what they're talking about on the forum. It enhances the sense of rock community. Besides, I know that The Cars' guitarist (Elliot Easton) is on the TDPRI Telecaster Forum.
Actually, I go by Dave, but there are already too many Daves on this forum.


Fender MIM Stratocaster
Fender Jaguar Bass
Epiphone EJ200 Super Jumbo
Fender Excelsior 13w
Acoustic B300HD (with matching 1x12 cab)
BOSS BD-2W
NYC Big Muff Pi
#36
Again, thanks Terry for coming here. While I certainly don't have the music industry experience you do, I'd love to continue to debate the ethics/consequences of piracy here with both you and the others in this thread. So I will continue on:

Quote by Terry Gorle
Have your opinion, but I speak from experience.
I've fought bootleggers and tape traders in the 80's before CD's ever existed... my music has been pirated for over 25 years. I spent the better part of 2 days last week alone writing to DCMA addresses to get the latest batch of pirated compilation downloads of my music removed from Google blogs and a dozen networked upload/downlod sites based all over the world.
I know how many CD's and digital downloads I sell on a monthly basis, and I know how many illegal downloads took place from ONE site in the week before I took action...
Its' a 500:1 ratio. Only a fool would attempt to justify that as a promotional tool.

It's not a "promotional tool" unless you try to take advantage of it. How many of the people that have pirated your music have you reached out to? In your specific case, I'm pretty most people don't even know they can still buy Graceful Inheritance.

I'll use myself as an example. I pirated Graceful Inheritance sometime last year probably, and have since enjoyed the hell out of it. I didn't even know I could still buy it until I saw you posting in this thread. (You'll be happy to know that I've since bought the download from your CDBaby page.)

Posting here is a great example of what I'm talking about. You've come here to a community of people to share your experiences with people in said community. In turn, it will draw people to Heir Apparent's music who haven't heard it.

Right now, though, I can't even find an Heir Apparent Facebook page; the only ones I can find are a page with nothing posted on it and no pictures, and an old-format group that doesn't appear to be run by any of the band members. The only Heir Apparent presence I can find on the internet is the website (which most people probably don't know exists), MySpace page (which no one uses anymore), and the CDBaby page (I suggest switching to Bandcamp for digital downloads, which more people seem to be using).

That's just not enough. If you want to the internet to work for you, you need to have and maintain an active presence there. I can't say that I've done it myself, but I have seen bands use the internet to great success. Ne Obliviscaris, a progressive black metal band from Australia, have a huge thread in our metal forum here, brought about from their members posting in it.

One of the catalysts was the members coming into the thread and saying they didn't mind people pirating their demo, while encouraging fans to purchase it if they like it; links to it were posted, and the demo is almost sold out, with a full-length on the way this year. By making themselves available to their fans, they were able to create a more loyal fanbase who were more likely to pay for their music and merchandise.

Another band, Cormorant, have had similar success with another internet community, even with piracy of their material running rampant.

Quote by Terry Gorle
When someone needs to invest $60,000 in t-shirts and promotions in an attempt to generate $25,000 in profit from t-shirt sales (assuming you sell them all), I think most bands would skip the tedium of filling orders and standing in line at the post office for 6 months in order go to the studio with $25,000 in the first place, saving the other $35,000 for tour support and taking their chances...

Cormorant were able to record and release Metazoa for about 8 grand, and it sounds pretty damn good IMO. $25,000 for a metal album in this day and age is pretty much unfeasible unless you're signed to big label.

Same with investing $60,000 into t-shirts. I'm thinking smaller, more like $4,000 for a run of 1,000 shirts.
#37
Quote by Scourge441

It's not a "promotional tool" unless you try to take advantage of it. How many of the people that have pirated your music have you reached out to?


Realistically, how many people CAN you reach out to on a personal level? Sure, an indie band with 500 fans can manage this, but what about, say, Foo Fighters? Or more importantly, what about one of those bands that sells just barely enough of each album to justify their existence... the band that is told, "unless you sell 100 000 copies, we'll be dropping you." That band who would have sold 100 000, except due to piracy, sells 85 000 and then gets dumped from their label. Now this band that a whole bunch of people pretend to like and support is forced to either go indie or say screw it and go back to their job at Home Depot.

Quote by Scourge441

In your specific case, I'm pretty most people don't even know they can still buy Graceful Inheritance.


... but if you know this album exists, the first place you should go is iTunes or Amazon and go check. Laziness is not an excuse for stealing.

Quote by Scourge441

I'll use myself as an example. I pirated Graceful Inheritance sometime last year probably, and have since enjoyed the hell out of it. I didn't even know I could still buy it until I saw you posting in this thread. (You'll be happy to know that I've since bought the download from your CDBaby page.)


Oh, good... so now that somebody TOLD you that it is on iTunes, you coughed up and bought it. Why didn't you check in the first place?

See, people shouldn't have to be TOLD by the band personally that they can buy the album. It should be an assumption that you can buy the album.

Quote by Scourge441

Right now, though, I can't even find an Heir Apparent Facebook page; the only ones I can find are a page with nothing posted on it and no pictures, and an old-format group that doesn't appear to be run by any of the band members. The only Heir Apparent presence I can find on the internet is the website (which most people probably don't know exists), MySpace page (which no one uses anymore), and the CDBaby page (I suggest switching to Bandcamp for digital downloads, which more people seem to be using).

That's just not enough. If you want to the internet to work for you, you need to have and maintain an active presence there. I can't say that I've done it myself, but I have seen bands use the internet to great success.


This is all good advice. An online presence these days is critical.

Quote by Scourge441

Ne Obliviscaris, a progressive black metal band from Australia, have a huge thread in our metal forum here, brought about from their members posting in it.


Better example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTAAsCNK7RA

Write a brilliantly catchy song and make a ridiculously catchy video and get it to go viral. This song just exploded with the help of the internet.

Quote by Scourge441

One of the catalysts was the members coming into the thread and saying they didn't mind people pirating their demo, while encouraging fans to purchase it if they like it;


It's not stealing if the owner gives it away. The problem is that torrenting and other P2P networks remove the artist from the equation. The artist has NO say as to whether their work gets "shared" or not.

Quote by Scourge441

links to it were posted, and the demo is almost sold out, with a full-length on the way this year. By making themselves available to their fans, they were able to create a more loyal fanbase who were more likely to pay for their music and merchandise.

Another band, Cormorant, have had similar success with another internet community, even with piracy of their material running rampant.


Yeah, people keep citing examples of this kind of thing, but anecdotal evidence is the first thing to be dredged up when statistical evidence doesn't bear out what the writer is looking for.

How many *other* people do you know who have 10 000 songs on their hard drive who have hardly purchased any of them? How many of those people go out and buy how many of those songs? Not bloody many.

Quote by Scourge441

Cormorant were able to record and release Metazoa for about 8 grand, and it sounds pretty damn good IMO. $25,000 for a metal album in this day and age is pretty much unfeasible unless you're signed to big label.


Okay. But what if you ARE signed to a big label? Does that mean it's okay to steal from that artist?

Quote by Scourge441

Same with investing $60,000 into t-shirts. I'm thinking smaller, more like $4,000 for a run of 1,000 shirts.


You invest what makes sense. When our band did t-shirts, we invested about $400. A thousand shirts.... we didn't sell a thousand CD's!! OTOH, if Green Day invested in only 1000 shirts, that would be equally stupid. (unless their intention was for it to become a collectors' item... "Hey, man! They only made a 1000 of these and I got one!!)

Besides... this has little to do with piracy, except the notion that people seem to think that the music itself is like a loss-leader, where "they make all the money on live shows and merch." Except those people miss the point... the live show and the merch exist because somebody actually sat down and wrote the music. The MUSIC is the product.

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.
#38
Quote by Scourge441
Again, thanks Terry for coming here. While I certainly don't have the music industry experience you do, I'd love to continue to debate the ethics/consequences of piracy here with both you and the others in this thread. So I will continue on:


It's not a "promotional tool" unless you try to take advantage of it. How many of the people that have pirated your music have you reached out to? In your specific case, I'm pretty most people don't even know they can still buy Graceful Inheritance.

I'll use myself as an example. I pirated Graceful Inheritance sometime last year probably, and have since enjoyed the hell out of it. I didn't even know I could still buy it until I saw you posting in this thread. (You'll be happy to know that I've since bought the download from your CDBaby page.)

Posting here is a great example of what I'm talking about. You've come here to a community of people to share your experiences with people in said community. In turn, it will draw people to Heir Apparent's music who haven't heard it.

Right now, though, I can't even find an Heir Apparent Facebook page; the only ones I can find are a page with nothing posted on it and no pictures, and an old-format group that doesn't appear to be run by any of the band members. The only Heir Apparent presence I can find on the internet is the website (which most people probably don't know exists), MySpace page (which no one uses anymore), and the CDBaby page (I suggest switching to Bandcamp for digital downloads, which more people seem to be using).

......

Same with investing $60,000 into t-shirts. I'm thinking smaller, more like $4,000 for a run of 1,000 shirts.


I bought the domain name for Heir Apparent (heirapparent.com) 12 years ago... when anyone puts "heir apparent" in a search engine, the band site is on the first page. Some time around 2003, I created two MySpace pages... one as a band and one as an individual... I filled out the basics and I pointed them back to heirapparent.com because that's where the merchandise was... then MySpace killed the direct linking and screwed up all the layouts when facebook bought in...

Sure, there are 20 different social and band-related sites and forums I could operate within, but managing them becomes a full time job in itself.

I don't know where you get shirts and silkscreening for $4 each... a quality black long sleeve shirt with 4-color screening front and back, and the band logo down the arms will set you back about $12-15 each for orders of 200 where I live. Trying to find a better price on the Internet is risky for quality all around, not to mention the additional shipping. All in all, not a money maker.

See, that's what artists deal with... the mindset of the typical music fan who has made justifications and rationalizations based on assumptions and believing the rhetoric of the feeding frenzy, without any real world concept or appreciation of the damage piracy afflicts...
people bookmark their favorite pirate sites, and they get everything they can for free...

If they don't know the band website exists because they never bothered to search the band name without the specific intent of scrolling past the legitimate sites and finding a pirate link, whose fault is that? Not mine.

It's a prevailing mindset in this generation... yes, record companies suck, and they ripped off the artists for decades... but the whole Napster/Metallica thing that was originally anti-record company has grown into a total disregard for EVERYONE... all law, all copyright, all intellectual property... and now it's ONLY killing the independent artists that don't have the finances or infrastructure to earn a living with their music.

I can't afford to not work... I certainly don't have a chance in hell of finding four other guys who can dedicate a year to writing a new album without money to survive on.
That's today's reality, and it's been that way for over a decade and getting worse.

I'll bet you most of the bands you think are successful or making a living are flat ass broke or severely in debt... or somebody is bankrolling them.
Last edited by Terry Gorle at Aug 7, 2011,
#39
I'll have to side with you on that Terry. I don't see piracy as a marketing campaign at all. If I spend a couple of thousand dollars creating a CD, I don't then expect to give it out for free in the hopes that they'll buy my other CDs (which will be pirated too) or for people to come see me on tour (they were too cheap to buy a CD, why buy a concert ticket?).

It just sets a status quo that your music is free for all.

Any chance of writing a set of columns for UG Terry? I love musician's autobiographies and I'm sure your experience with Heir Apparent would make for a good read.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#40
Quote by axemanchris
Realistically, how many people CAN you reach out to on a personal level? Sure, an indie band with 500 fans can manage this, but what about, say, Foo Fighters? Or more importantly, what about one of those bands that sells just barely enough of each album to justify their existence... the band that is told, "unless you sell 100 000 copies, we'll be dropping you." That band who would have sold 100 000, except due to piracy, sells 85 000 and then gets dumped from their label. Now this band that a whole bunch of people pretend to like and support is forced to either go indie or say screw it and go back to their job at Home Depot.

At this point in Heir Apparent's career, they'd basically have to start from scratch anyway. They play a genre that's no longer mainstream and haven't been active in years; they have a much smaller audience than Foo Fighters do.

And no, you won't reach every fan you'll ever have. But you don't have to make a deep personal connection with all of them; if you do enough to make them like you as a person, then they're more likely to support your efforts.

As to the lost album sales, you're incorrectly assuming that A) everyone who downloaded the album would have purchased it if piracy weren't an option, and B) that everyone who downloaded it but didn't purchase it liked it. I'd actually argue that iTunes has hurt album sales more than piracy has, because it enables the listener to purchase the hit single and ignore the rest of the album.

Quote by axemanchris
... but if you know this album exists, the first place you should go is iTunes or Amazon and go check. Laziness is not an excuse for stealing.

...

Oh, good... so now that somebody TOLD you that it is on iTunes, you coughed up and bought it. Why didn't you check in the first place?

See, people shouldn't have to be TOLD by the band personally that they can buy the album. It should be an assumption that you can buy the album.

And the vast majority of music listeners don't care that they're being lazy. It may not be right, but it's the reality. It's a bad business decision to not plan for it, and it's reached a point where fighting it is damn near useless.

Take a look at the comments on some of the UG articles about piracy. How many personal attacks do users make against Metallica for helping to take down Napster? I'd argue that at this point in time, fighting against piracy is more likely to turn fans against you than make them realize the error of their ways and support you.

I'll repeat an argument I made above; not everyone who pirates the album likes it. That's part of the reason I pirate; I've made several poor purchases in the past based on one good song that hit the radio or was on Myspace. There's plenty of bands out there that write one awesome song and an album of filler; I pirate to avoid paying money to bands I'll end up not liking.

If I could pay for every album I like, I'd do it. I can't. If there's any bands I like who'd rather me not listen to their albums at all instead of listening to them for free, then I'll delete them from my computer.

Quote by axemanchris
It's not stealing if the owner gives it away. The problem is that torrenting and other P2P networks remove the artist from the equation. The artist has NO say as to whether their work gets "shared" or not.

Again, most music listeners don't care. It may be wrong, but 9 times out of 10 you can't mold the market to do what you want it to do.

Quote by axemanchris
Yeah, people keep citing examples of this kind of thing, but anecdotal evidence is the first thing to be dredged up when statistical evidence doesn't bear out what the writer is looking for.

How many *other* people do you know who have 10 000 songs on their hard drive who have hardly purchased any of them? How many of those people go out and buy how many of those songs? Not bloody many.

There actually have been studies that show the heaviest music pirates are also more likely to purchase music:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/apr/21/study-finds-pirates-buy-more-music
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/ippd-dppi.nsf/eng/h_ip01456.html

And that smaller bands profit more because of filesharing:

http://www.rufuspollock.org/economics/p2p_summary.html#id20495360

In regards to anecdotal evidence, I've asked Arthur from Cormorant to join the discussion here. He can provide more details than I can.

Quote by axemanchris
Okay. But what if you ARE signed to a big label? Does that mean it's okay to steal from that artist?

I'll concede this point. While I maintain that not every stolen album was stolen by someone who would have otherwise purchased it, and that not every thief liked the album to buy it anyway, one of the studies I linked above says that bigger-name artists do sell less albums because of piracy.

Quote by axemanchris
You invest what makes sense. When our band did t-shirts, we invested about $400. A thousand shirts.... we didn't sell a thousand CD's!! OTOH, if Green Day invested in only 1000 shirts, that would be equally stupid. (unless their intention was for it to become a collectors' item... "Hey, man! They only made a 1000 of these and I got one!!)

My response was tailored specifically to Terry's situation. He's in a band that was inactive for years and has only really seen interest from a niche audience.

Quote by axemanchris
Besides... this has little to do with piracy, except the notion that people seem to think that the music itself is like a loss-leader, where "they make all the money on live shows and merch." Except those people miss the point... the live show and the merch exist because somebody actually sat down and wrote the music. The MUSIC is the product.

CT

Why is the value of the music being attached to a dollar sign in the first place, though?

I stated this issue in a roundabout way previously, but let me direct it specifically to you: would you rather someone not listen to your album at all, or pirate it from the internet? I think the reason most serious musicians start writing and releasing music is because they want to be heard first and foremost, and piracy makes that possible more easily than was probably ever imaginable before it happened.

But on a purely business level, the act of recording and releasing music is basically a marketing expense to sell merch and tickets. Yes, the people are buying the shirts and going to the shows are there because they enjoy the music, but I see no reason why their love of the music absolutely must be reflected in the album sales.

Most people following underground/local bands are probably under the age of 30, and may or may not have decent jobs and money to spend on music. If they have $15 in their pocket and can only buy the shirt or the album, the shirt usually has a higher profit margin attached to it. (Smart musicians know to offer the album AND a shirt in a package deal for a reduced price, but that's a separate issue.)

I'm not arguing that the artist shouldn't have the right to determine how his music is distributed. I'm arguing that the average music listener will download the album for free anyway, and if the musician doesn't take that into account and develop a business plan around that, he's making the wrong decision.

I'll respond to Terry's post separately, as this is already huge.
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