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Community Advice: How To Avoid The Most Common Story I...

Posted by: Jason Tate (01/25/12)
I can't even count how many bands have told me some version of the "we signed with a label, then there was a 'restructuring,' and the main A&R/advocate for our band left ... and then we had no one championing our band at the label, and we went unnoticed" story. Most of the time this is after the band has either left and returned to a smaller label (buzz from the release that got them on a more major player mostly gone) or have broken up. Now, I'm not an entertainment lawyer - so I have no fucking clue what you could do to avoid this kind of situation. But, I'm curious if there are any artists/industry people that have any advice to avoid this? Is it just an occupational hazard of being in a band? You can't tie your contract to your A&R or something can you?
  
 
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10:18 AM on 01/25/12
#2
live4music
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A lot of times you can go on websites like digitalmusicnews and try to look at labels that are on steady ground. Several of the major labels are all going through constant shuffles at the moment so really there is no telling at this current point in time in the music industry. It happened to my friends Vedera when Amanda Ghost drove Epic Records into the ground before she got fired.
10:35 AM on 01/25/12
#3
treytooknotice
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You can attempt to tie your contract to anything the label will agree with before you sign. Most importantly, get things in writing. Second most important, make sure you work with a label that you find to be full of genuinely great people who care about you not only as an artist / band but as human beings.

A record contract can be a sticky situation for both parties, especially these days with the decline of physical media and the birth of professional-sounding makeshift home studios.
10:39 AM on 01/25/12
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Phil507
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I actually think the most common story I read/hear about is: "Hi, we signed with a major label who we thought was totally behind us/backed us artistically. However, it became apparent that they were only about making money and, thus, once they realized we weren't selling any records didn't give us any support." As if it's shocking that a publicly traded company would be looking to increase profits....
10:42 AM on 01/25/12
#5
Jason Tate
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I actually think the most common story I read/hear about is: "Hi, we signed with a major label who we thought was totally behind us/backed us artistically. However, it became apparent that they were only about making money and, thus, once they realized we weren't selling any records didn't give us any support." As if it's shocking that a publicly traded company would be looking to increase profits....
More shocking than that is that any record label in this day and age thinks selling records is what's going to get them any kind of profit ....
10:42 AM on 01/25/12
#6
Phil507
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More shocking than that is that any record label in this day and age thinks selling records is what's going to get them any kind of profit ....
True. I also think way too much money is still wasted in promotion (i.e. getting airplay) but old habits die hard.
10:45 AM on 01/25/12
#7
treytooknotice
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True. I also think way too much money is still wasted in promotion (i.e. getting airplay) but old habits die hard.
It could be argued that promotion is the most profitable expense.
10:49 AM on 01/25/12
#8
Alex_Burton
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In my experience, the amount of love and attention a label gives you is directly tied to the money you're making for them. Additionally, I remember turning down an offer from Capitol at one point, and then less than a year later nearly the entire A&R staff there was gutted. I also remember turning down an offer from a prominent indie, and after a year or so our A&R guy there was fired and all of the bands he signed were dropped. I suppose you could tie your contract to your A&R person in theory, but then if your A&R staff goes, you are back out on your ass, and you'll still be labeled as the underperforming band that got dropped by a major.

The only people I really see dig in at labels and pour blood sweat and tears into underperforming bands, are the people don't really have the power to get you where you need to be. You're best off partnering with management and booking agents that really love what you do. As far as I'm concerned, those are the people that can really make your career as they have arguably the most sway in getting you on the tours you need to be on to be seen, heard, and sell merch.
10:54 AM on 01/25/12
#9
Jason Tate
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In my experience, the amount of love and attention a label gives you is directly tied to the money you're making for them. Additionally, I remember turning down an offer from Capitol at one point, and then less than a year later nearly the entire A&R staff there was gutted. I also remember turning down an offer from a prominent indie, and after a year or so our A&R guy there was fired and all of the bands he signed were dropped. I suppose you could tie your contract to your A&R person in theory, but then if your A&R staff goes, you are back out on your ass, and you'll still be labeled as the underperforming band that got dropped by a major.

The only people I really see dig in at labels and pour blood sweat and tears into underperforming bands, are the people don't really have the power to get you where you need to be. You're best off partnering with management and booking agents that really love what you do. As far as I'm concerned, those are the people that can really make your career as they have arguably the most sway in getting you on the tours you need to be on to be seen, heard, and sell merch.
Great advice.
10:55 AM on 01/25/12
inthemix
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Could have key man clause in the contract that apply to your a&r person. tough to negotiate though.
10:57 AM on 01/25/12
Sing-The-Sorrow
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It's called a "key man" clause that you get written into the contract BEFORE you sign it. Basically, it means if the A&R rep who disocvered/signed you gets let go during your tenure at the label, the label cannot drop you.

Although, I'm sure the label can still find a way around it (i.e.; if your sales are shit).
11:01 AM on 01/25/12
Jason Tate
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Could have key man clause in the contract that apply to your a&r person. tough to negotiate though.

It's called a "key man" clause that you get written into the contract BEFORE you sign it. Basically, it means if the A&R rep who disocvered/signed you gets let go during your tenure at the label, the label cannot drop you.

Although, I'm sure the label can still find a way around it (i.e.; if your sales are shit).
K. So it does exist. It seems in most of these cases though that the label is the one with most of the negotiating power.
11:01 AM on 01/25/12
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More shocking than that is that any record label in this day and age thinks selling records is what's going to get them any kind of profit ....

This.
11:03 AM on 01/25/12
inthemix
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K. So it does exist. It seems in most of these cases though that the label is the one with most of the negotiating power.
I would say it actually gives you the power to leave...not so much them not being able to drop you. The bigger concern would not be getting dropped, but being held onto without anybody who actually believes in you working the album.
11:04 AM on 01/25/12
inthemix
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I would say it actually gives you the power to leave...not so much them not being able to drop you. The bigger concern would not be getting dropped, but being held onto without anybody who actually believes in you working the album.
quoted the wrong post. OOPS.
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