#1
So last night we played a show in town and all went well. A guy from a local record label really liked us and afterwords talked to our drummer and set up a meeting next week to go over a few things and sign us to their label. So we were happy, but then me and the bassist realized we dont know what a label technically does. So, we are asking you all for help, how do labels help out bands? Thanks
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#2
UG arent experts on label contracts and such, you will most likely need a lawyer

umm.. they give you a budget to record and get new equipment (if needed) and studio time and all that.. they promote record if and when it comes out.. they promote the artist as best they can
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#3
Quote by Ultimate_Gio92
UG arent experts on label contracts and such, you........


that was sarcasm im sure

ug arent experts on anything (except ego)
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#4
A label gives you a budget for recording and sponsors your tours. They also distribute your CDs and help get your name out there.
#5
Quote by aeon20k
that was sarcasm im sure

ug arent experts on anything (except ego)


hahah
Everybody Loves Lefty..

Lefties Unite!


Melodic Thrash Metal and winners of the Wacken Metal Battle Canada and 2nd Place Runner Ups for Wacken Metal Battle International

PROFANER
#6
They're the ones who take care of all the crap that musicians worry about other than music. Like how they're gonna pay for studio time, get the cd and band out and promoted is all taken care of by the label. Also, a label is pretty much required to become a mainstream band (if you guys are looking toward that)
#8
lot of bad advices, a label very often doesnt do anything more than ****ing you from behind, be very careful. Labels dont always pay studio, they just distribute in to their market, selling the band as a piece of their label packet. many metal bands have gone into that trap..they sell som records, but the label doesnt really have big ambitions on your behalf, your band is just on of 10 THEY make money on. they make enough money on 10 bands going steady, rather than really build the band up. BE CAREFUL.
#9
essentially, they'll put your record out, and soak up some of the costs. it depends on the label. i presume this is a small indie. in that case, they'll presumably want to put out a single on 7" or cd. they'll pay for the pressing of this, and will possibly pay for the recording, or at least contribute to it (if they dont pay for it, they should reimburse you after the records have been sold). i wouldnt bank on actually making much money from releasing a record. but you shouldnt lose out either. i suppose the main benefit is that you can possibly get more gigs, it'll mean you can say 'hey, we've got a record out on such and such' which is pretty helpful, and it'll increase your fanbase, people who like the label will hear your stuff and maybe like it. the label may hook you up with other bands that have worked with them too for playing gigs etc.

my advice is not to get carried away. you aren't 'getting signed' to the label. they'll maybe want to release a single and see how that goes. similarly, you aren't suddenly going to be playing huge venues or making loads of money out of your music. but if it goes well, it can be a stepping stone...

the thing is, you have to bear in mind that different labels vary wildly. i mean, there's big major labels (universal, emi etc), there's large indies (XL, domino, matador, sub pop etc), there's smaller indies (big scary monsters, stitch, maybe brainlove records, though they'e a small small indie), and then there's bedroom scale labels. people get overawed by the term 'label', and its meaningless really. especially with the internet these days, you can do a recording on the cheap, press up some 7"s, set up a website and a paypal and hey presto, you just created yourself a label.
my name is matt. you can call me that if you like.
Last edited by Gurgle!Argh! at Nov 2, 2007,
#10
Quote by BigBall
lot of bad advices, a label very often doesnt do anything more than ****ing you from behind, be very careful. Labels dont always pay studio, they just distribute in to their market, selling the band as a piece of their label packet. many metal bands have gone into that trap..they sell som records, but the label doesnt really have big ambitions on your behalf, your band is just on of 10 THEY make money on. they make enough money on 10 bands going steady, rather than really build the band up. BE CAREFUL.


Yes true..major labels are not really in it for the artists..but that's how bands get into the mainstream. If you want to get a contract with labels like these then you have to weigh the pros and cons. If you're not interested in getting into that corporate bull**** like Britney Spears and Fall Out Boy then I would steer clear of signing any contracts. A lot of times record labels will pressure you into changing your material. Like for example they'll say "Well we think it would be a good idea if you covered "x" song..even if you hate it they will still pressure you to do it. If you don't sign a contract you'll just have to find your own way of promotion and distribution of your material like cds and merchandise. If you know someone who knows web design, set up a website, and hire a company to press copies of your cds. Also setting up a home recording studio would not be a bad idea if you have the money as studio time is very expensive and it's better to just be able to go downstairs and start working on songs at 2am as soon as the inspiration hits (with soundproofed walls so not to disturb anyone). It would mean less pressure as you're not worried about paying for wasted time like going into a big name studio...though it requires lots of time, patience, space, and money to set up.

I kind of regret my last post making it seem like a great thing to get a label because often times like you said the artist ends up getting screwed. But undoubtedly it's the quickest and sometimes the only way to becoming a mainstream artist (if that's what you're looking for).
Last edited by OpposingForce at Nov 2, 2007,
#11
First of all.. Instead of asking here:

GET A LAWYER NOW!!! and I don't mean your uncle Benny that is a workers comp lawyer. Get an entertainment lawyer.

Sign NOTHING. No napkin, No plan, No "just a formality" NOTHING until the Lawyer agrees to the T's and C's.

A lot of what I've read here is bogus. Labels are NOT required to pay for anything. In fact most of them don't. Best case you MAY be offered an advance to cover recording, etc but remember, an advance is just that.. It's a LOAN people.. You HAVE to pay it back.
Oh your record didn't sell?? Too bad, give me my money.

What Labels MAY be able to offer is distribution, Accounting (but I wouldn't trust them for that anyway), promotion (depending on how many other guys are completing for those dollars at any given time), MAYBE tour support (IF they have connections but most likely not.. That's more an agents function).

Next: Get an accountant (you'll thank me for that one later).

Third.. IF the label is serious and you are serious get an Agent (NOT your friend that's been around since the beginning of the band but a PROFESSIONAL).

Fourth: Be prepared to work. Having a deal is one thing, having something come from it is something else again. It's a business. Make NO mistake about it.

Fifth: Good luck . I hope this didn't burst your bubble but they are things you REALLY need to know BEFORE you jump.
Last edited by Rb123 at Nov 2, 2007,
#12
well labels often take the rights of your work, that means that they can use it for what ever they want, for example they can use one of your songs for a barby commercial and you can't do anything about it.
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#13
Quote by Rb123
First of all.. Instead of asking here:

GET A LAWYER NOW!!! and I don't mean your uncle Benny that is a workers comp lawyer. Get an entertainment lawyer.

Sign NOTHING. No napkin, No plan, No "just a formality" NOTHING until the Lawyer agrees to the T's and C's.

A lot of what I've read here is bogus. Labels are NOT required to pay for anything. In fact most of them don't. Best case you MAY be offered an advance to cover recording, etc but remember, an advance is just that.. It's a LOAN people.. You HAVE to pay it back.
Oh your record didn't sell?? Too bad, give me my money.

What Labels MAY be able to offer is distribution, Accounting (but I wouldn't trust them for that anyway), promotion (depending on how many other guys are completing for those dollars at any given time), MAYBE tour support (IF they have connections but most likely not.. That's more an agents function).

Next: Get an accountant (you'll thank me for that one later).

Third.. IF the label is serious and you are serious get an Agent (NOT your friend that's been around since the beginning of the band but a PROFESSIONAL).

Fourth: Be prepared to work. Having a deal is one thing, having something come from it is something else again. It's a business. Make NO mistake about it.

Fifth: Good luck . I hope this didn't burst your bubble but they are things you REALLY need to know BEFORE you jump.


I just read a whole book on this crap.
If you could blow up the world with a flick of a switch,
Would you do it?

If you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich,
Would you do it?

With all your power,
What would you do?
#14
rb123 pegged it pretty well. Labels do not pay for anything, most mainstream bands leave the studio up to $100,000 in debt, they rarely repay that by selling CD's.. Bands like [insert big name here] make their living playing live and selling extras like t-shirts, NOT selling CD's. The only time CD sales pays back the recording cost is when you're Brittney Spears or someone whose CD goes platinum days after its release. And they're still making very little per CD.

Absolutely have a good attorney go over any contract with a magnifying glass, once you sign record labels are notorious for having clauses that give THEM exclusive rights to your music, voice, you name it. I know a musician who has had to bootleg his own older album because the record company refuses to re-master it and release it on CD while he's constantly getting requests for that album on CD. He isn't a household name right now mainly because the record company didn't bother to do anything but minimal perfunctory promotion. They were more interested in someone else. And the guy is a fabulous songwriter/guitar player and should be right up there with ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Bryan Adams etc.

You also make very little on your music, with all the RIAA garbage about how they work so hard to "protect the artist" most of the money goes to the RIAA and record company, not the musicians. For example the Beatles, most popular band in the world and highest selling at the time, were almost completely bankrupt when they broke up, due to mis management and record company greed, and making something like 2-4¢ per album, when albums were priced at about $4. I think right now you're lucky to get 75¢ or so on a CD that costs $17 at Wally World.

I would take a much closer look at indie (independent) record labels, they are becoming much more popular because they aren't screwing artists. Or not as bad.

But very seriously, the most important part is DO NOT sign anything until you have an attorney look it over closely. Not a napkin, not a "just a formality" NOTHING...as already advised. Record label greed and corruption were the basis of Tom Petty's "Last DJ" release, he's been fighting the corporate big shots since the 70's. They wanted to use one of his albums as a showboat for their new $9.99 price tag, he refused and threatened to name it $8.99 if they kept at it. The
Last DJ" was banned by some record stations/networks not for bad language or objectionable/adult material, but because it made the record company execs look bad. Rappers screaming obscenities, violence and abusive/insulting/degrading nonsense by the hundreds and they ban Tom Petty for telling it like it is without the first four letter word...

Definitely look a lot closer at indie than mainstream labels. Mainstream labels are huge corporations with one and only one goal, make as much money off your work as possible. They will do anything they can get away with to achieve that goal. Corruption in those huge corporations has been a great problem for many years, I remember hearing horror stories about it in the 70's. Once you sign that piece of paper, if you're the least bit careless they practically own you and aren't obligated to pay for anything, YOU pay for studio time, equipment, etc and the only thing they do is loan you the money to get a recording done and a tour set up. Then you have to pay it back. Record companies in the 60's even required you record in the specific studio they said record in. I think it was Jefferson Airplane that I read about that had one less attractive album mainly because they were forced into a crummy studio they hated in another location (LA I think) when there were a dozen studios they could have used right there in Frisco that they wre comfortable in and had better equipment. Record company just waved the contract...
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#16
theres been some good general advice, but its pretty much wholly ignorant of how small indies work. if you're talking about putting out a one off 7" with a small indie (which is what you will be doing i presume), its really not necessary to go out and get hardcore with lawyers, because besides anything you'll pay through the nose for it, and because thats a level of formality which small indies dont generally bother with.
my name is matt. you can call me that if you like.
#17
Great thread. Why anyone would even think to knock on a major's door is beyond me (except "I want to be famous" shallow people I guess). They should read that book, from that industry insider. Two big q's:

It is very difficult to get distribution if you are not with a (even small indie) label. Sure, your album doesn't need to be at Virgin (whatever it's called in the US) but you do want your album to be available at amazon, specialist shops etc. What is the solution for this problem if you are not with a label?

I heard it is possible to license your music to a label for release. Example: you make a album, release it in some limited format. After that, you "license" it to a label. Technically, you are not "with" the label, but you get the benefits of distribution. Licensing sounds like a good option, but is it really?
#18
Get a lawyer, ask them to go into laymen's terms, tell them what YOU want and see how they react. Read everything and if you don't understand ask.
#19
Quote by MyraT


It is very difficult to get distribution if you are not with a (even small indie) label. Sure, your album doesn't need to be at Virgin (whatever it's called in the US) but you do want your album to be available at amazon, specialist shops etc. What is the solution for this problem if you are not with a label?

You could pull a "Radiohead" and distribute the music through a nice website. I see what you're saying, but there are alternatives to brick-and-mortar. If you really wanted to put out a physical disc, it wouldn't be too hard to distribute out of your basement. Just get a duplication company to make a thousand copies or so and sell it like so.
If you could blow up the world with a flick of a switch,
Would you do it?

If you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich,
Would you do it?

With all your power,
What would you do?
#20
Why anyone would even think to knock on a major's door is beyond me (except "I want to be famous" shallow people I guess)



Oh Please... Are you saying that if WEA or CBS or MCA was knocking on your door offering a deal you would say "No.. I'm not interested in being with a "major"" ?

Sorry but I call BS. That's an easy statement to make if you're not getting the offer but, I've heard a lot of people say that and then see the same people fold like lawn chairs as soon as the deal was offered.
#21
Quote by Rb123
Oh Please... Are you saying that if WEA or CBS or MCA was knocking on your door offering a deal you would say "No.. I'm not interested in being with a "major"" ?


I would take a long hard look at that contract. People can be easily eaten up and spit back out by them. Sure an indie wants to make money too, but there are more in touch with music (like being specialised in a subgenre), not just with money. Anyway, majors will only be in the picture if you're making mainstream music. And your music should be either something unique, fresh or the opposite (= what everyone else is doing at the moment). There's nothing wrong with mainstream music, but even then it's more about luck. Some people say it's like a musical lottery; I think that seems about right.

I'd actually suggest that the best route to go for in modern day is to build up a fanbase + band management team yourself, to the point where you can attract the labels who can offer better distribution and promotion, because signing up to any old indie label before you have the grounds to attract the better offers is more often than not a waste of time.


I agree with this. A fanbase is extremely important and the bigger indies do get your CD in amazon etc.
#22
majors will only be in the picture if you're making mainstream music. And your music should be either something unique, fresh or the opposite (= what everyone else is doing at the moment)


MyraT: I'm sorry but, I don't understand what you are saying here.. Are you saying that Majors are only interested in "mainstream music" (whatever that is) and the music should be unique, fresh, etc for them to be interested? (not trying to be a jerk I really don't understand what your getting to).

Maybe it's just me but, it's obvious that building a "local" fan base, having support, etc is essential for anyone major or indie to be interested. Not too many guys just sit in their basement, make demos and never get out among 'em and get signed, etc..

On another side.. I agree with you 100% that it is a "musical lottery" to a degree. It's really mostly about who you know, who knows you (again, out among em) and even with indies, ROI.