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> Want That Big Record Deal?
RichardK
post Apr 16 2014, 12:00 PM
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We all dream about it. Nailing that gig and afterwards this guy comes up to you and says: “Hi, I represent Universal, I think you guys really have something special. Here’s a bag of money!” And off you go to a big-ass studio in LA, record a platinum album and be on your way to rockstardom. Sure, it’s not a very realistic scenario, but somewhere in the back of our minds, we all secretly hope for it.

I read this really cool article about how the industry works. Despite what we know about countless bands getting screwed over, we still think we need those big companies to make it big. In fact, that’s the reason these companies exist: you take care of the creative side, they take care of the business side, because you don’t know or want to know about these things. Even though all the necessary information is just a google search away.

But still, we want to rely on people who really know the business, so we can focus on what’s most important: the music. Right? And the companies want you to be successful, because it means more money for them. Unfortunately, this is only partly true. Yes, they want you to be successful, but not too successful. Bands like Metallica have a huge fanbase, so they’re in a position to make demands, like bigger royalties. And record companies don’t like that.

Here’s how they work. For example in the Netherlands, the Big Three (Sony, Universal, Warner) will each sign three bands per year, give each one a budget and then continue with the most successful band, dropping the other two immediately, leaving them with a big debt. If you’re in the successful band, expect to be dropped within three years (because they don’t want you to create that big fanbase).

If you want to stay on longer, there’s the 360-deal, where you get a lot of freedom and room to develop your music. But this freedom comes at a price: 360 means all the way. So what you earn from touring and merchandise (the band’s biggest source of income), goes right into their pockets.

This is not a rant against major labels or labels in general, it’s just how they work. It’s just economics for them and it happens to be music. I know this because many of my friends are musicians or work in the business.

What I’m trying to say is: do we really still need labels? A lot of stuff they do for you, you can do yourself. You can make a really decent recording at home, hire a producer to polish and master it and just upload it to iTunes or Spotify. As for promo, artist bio and marketing, same thing. Do it yourself or hire someone to write it for you (still much cheaper than any label). Want gigs? Contact programmers and venues or hire a manager.

It’s a lot of extra work and it might distract from the fun of making music, but if you work together as a band, it’s not that hard at all. We have the interwebz, so all the info is at our fingertips. We all know it’s very hard to make it in music and only very few people do, but we all secretly hope for it. And labels may seem like a shortcut or a great way to focus only on the music. But if you really want to make it, all the extra work is a small price to pay. So, still want that big record deal?
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Sensible Jones
post Apr 16 2014, 02:04 PM
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Interesting article!!
As I and a lot of my friends say:-
"From the 50's through to the 70's it was the Music Business, to this day it's all about the Business of Music!"
smile.gif smile.gif


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Cosmin Lupu
post Apr 16 2014, 04:21 PM
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I tend to agree with you in respect to the fact that you can do a lot of stuff on your own, but you can do that up to a point. Each market has its own rules and the market in Romania is nothing like the one in Germany or the USA. But out of my experience so far, you can't do ANYTHING from a certain level on, unless you invest. Investment means: time, brains, money and connections.

If you have the right connections and money and YOU KNOW how to produce your music so that you may turn up with an outstanding product, you can do it on your own without any help. Otherwise... it's a jungle out there man smile.gif

I for one am at that point with my band in which we need sponsoring to be able to move forward, because in here if a band wants to do something special about a show, they have to pay everything themselves. If you want to do things the pro way, everyone will run away from paying you because you are expensive and this is how the circle goes smile.gif


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klasaine
post Apr 16 2014, 05:05 PM
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A lot of generalizations made in the OP.

Here's another one:
The big rec. cos. may not have always had the best business ethics or the best interests of the artists as their main tenets but most records made at home ... sound like they're made at home.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Apr 16 2014, 05:07 PM


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Apr 16 2014, 05:19 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Apr 16 2014, 04:05 PM) *
A lot of generalizations made in the OP.

Here's another one:
The big rec. cos. may not have always had the best business ethics or the best interests of the artists as their main tenets but most records made at home ... sound like they're made at home.


Very, very true Ken.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Apr 17 2014, 07:40 AM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Apr 16 2014, 04:19 PM) *
Very, very true Ken.


Well, nowadays, a lot of people can make their ways in pro studios without a record label, so that's not the case anymore. I think that a band CAN make it without a big record deal, but.. to what extent? smile.gif


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PosterBoy
post Apr 17 2014, 08:36 AM
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With so many people recording music at home, I think studio time is becoming more affordable. I've notice two things, people building themselves pretty awesome project studios with decent equipment, so there is one avenue for decent recordings if they know what they're doing, and professional studios running more and more courses for becoming a recording engineer etc, meaning they aren't getting booked very much, so should be ready for some price negotiating.

As for promotion, I wonder how many people have left the record companies (with all their knowledge and contacts) and started out on their own, to cash in, sorry I mean help, on all the independent artists out there.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Apr 17 2014, 10:37 AM
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Whilst it is certainly possible to turn out a good project using a project studio it is much less likely.

The unpalatable truth is that there is a big difference between the quality of equipment that you find in most home/project studios and in a professional one. The latter will also be in rooms that are fit for purpose and where the equipment has been properly set up and maintained.

Also, having some equipment in a project studio is one thing, having the experience and knowledge to use it appropriately and effectively is another. The various courses promoted in the back pages of SoS and other magazines are generally regarded in the industry as something that might* get you an interview for an internship/trainee engineer position at a professional studio. They are not however seen as sufficient hands-on experience to be an engineer.





* I do mean 'might' as I know many pro studios who will not interview someone whose experience is wholly based on those courses.

This post has been edited by tonymiro: Apr 17 2014, 10:52 AM


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klasaine
post Apr 17 2014, 04:39 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Apr 16 2014, 11:40 PM) *
Well, nowadays, a lot of people can make their ways in pro studios without a record label, so that's not the case anymore. I think that a band CAN make it without a big record deal, but.. to what extent? smile.gif


I was (and Tony too) referring to the generalizations of the OP.

Of course you can make it w/o a big label or big deal. That's always been the case. Remember, in the beginning, 'Atlantic' records was a small indie label set up by two brothers in a converted office space. 'Blue Note' was an indie. Engineer Rudy Van Gelder always recorded in either his parents house or his own place later on. Lots of bands started their own labels. Or, as was popular 'back in the day' an independent producer would fund a demo or EP and pitch it to a label.

Do you know what you're doing with the gear you have? That's the main obstacle/endeavor. Most, IMO, don't.
I play guitar professionally. I put a lot of time into it. I expect the same of the recordists whether they're in a house or an actual purposed recording studio.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Apr 17 2014, 04:47 PM


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RichardK
post Apr 17 2014, 05:31 PM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Apr 16 2014, 04:05 PM) *
A lot of generalizations made in the OP.

Here's another one:
The big rec. cos. may not have always had the best business ethics or the best interests of the artists as their main tenets but most records made at home ... sound like they're made at home.


I don't know about that. Sure, you really have to know what you're doing, my point is that recording technology has come a long way these last ten years. And you're still gonna need someone to do the mixing and mastering. We've tried a sample, live take instrumental recording with five mics, and I was really surprised at how good it sounded smile.gif.

And yes, these are generalizations, but I didn't want to type a 5000 word essay, just some general thoughts smile.gif.
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klasaine
post Apr 17 2014, 07:16 PM
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QUOTE (RichardK @ Apr 17 2014, 09:31 AM) *
I didn't want to type a 5000 word essay, just some general thoughts smile.gif.


Me too wink.gif


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Cosmin Lupu
post Apr 18 2014, 09:54 AM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Apr 17 2014, 03:39 PM) *
I was (and Tony too) referring to the generalizations of the OP.

Of course you can make it w/o a big label or big deal. That's always been the case. Remember, in the beginning, 'Atlantic' records was a small indie label set up by two brothers in a converted office space. 'Blue Note' was an indie. Engineer Rudy Van Gelder always recorded in either his parents house or his own place later on. Lots of bands started their own labels. Or, as was popular 'back in the day' an independent producer would fund a demo or EP and pitch it to a label.

Do you know what you're doing with the gear you have? That's the main obstacle/endeavor. Most, IMO, don't.
I play guitar professionally. I put a lot of time into it. I expect the same of the recordists whether they're in a house or an actual purposed recording studio.


You are perfectly right Ken smile.gif There is a phenomenon occurring, especially in Romania - people invest HUGE sums of money into gear, but never into actually becoming sound engineers... the result? Amazing studios ran by people who don't know what to do with them. In here, we lack 3 sort of pros in the music business: producers, sound engineers and vocal coaches smile.gif


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Apr 18 2014, 10:45 AM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Apr 18 2014, 08:54 AM) *
You are perfectly right Ken smile.gif There is a phenomenon occurring, especially in Romania - people invest HUGE sums of money into gear, but never into actually becoming sound engineers... the result? Amazing studios ran by people who don't know what to do with them. In here, we lack 3 sort of pros in the music business: producers, sound engineers and vocal coaches smile.gif


That's almost the opposite in the UK. Professional studios are staffed by pro engineers who all have 1000s of hours of hands-on experience. Studios however are closing because the owners can make more money from selling the building and land than they make from it as a studio and the engineers are out of a job. We're heading to a point where there weill be few professional studios and engineers left.


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klasaine
post Apr 18 2014, 05:01 PM
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Sadly, many of the great rooms here in L.A. (and NYC) are shutting their doors as well. The only saving grace is that the more experienced engineers are usually setting up a (smaller but) workable space to record either in their homes or in relatively inexpensive industrial complexes (and/or really bad neighborhoods). We do still have some space out here that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and since everybody still has a car it doesn't have to be in or near the city center.
Los Angeles (and other places in the states) has many really great 'home' studios but the caveat is that they're homes turned into studios and run by engineers/musicians with a lot of experience in recording professionally.
But I'll tell ya ... I don't get to record nearly as much in a big, well treated room as I used to and I miss it. And I hear the difference.




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Todd Simpson
post Apr 19 2014, 08:01 AM
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Sadly, this appears to be a GLOBAL phenom. In fact,
I recently read an industry report that projected the entire music production industry was going to SHRINK by about 5% over the next 5 years. Not stay afloat, not grow, shrink.

It does make sense though when you look at the contraction of the overall "music biz" in terms of total dollars spent, including touring!! The digital pennies will never make up for the analogue dollars as they say but I digress wink.gif

Most of us here are here because we love music so much, we have to play it. We have to record it and share it with the world. Regardless of money or lack thereof. Personally, I see that as one of the blessings of the current situation. I don't run in to nearly as many folks who are "starting a band" and look the part but have yet to learn to play at all. Around here I used to see that all the time. smile.gif

QUOTE (tonymiro @ Apr 18 2014, 05:45 AM) *
That's almost the opposite in the UK. Professional studios are staffed by pro engineers who all have 1000s of hours of hands-on experience. Studios however are closing because the owners can make more money from selling the building and land than they make from it as a studio and the engineers are out of a job. We're heading to a point where there weill be few professional studios and engineers left.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Apr 19 2014, 02:41 PM
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I don't know how it goes in other places, but in here, TV and radio stations pay broadcasting rights to artists whose music the stations will play. I don't know if it's valid for the digital environment - I mean if a digital radio station or tv broadcasts your music, do they have to pay royalties?

That sort of digital pennies would be good as well smile.gif


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 19 2014, 03:10 PM
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Cirse has always been an independent band and I can say that it hasn't been a problem that avoid as from growing as a band. In the last months I've been talking with some of the biggest bands here and all them are telling the same: "We are happy that we ended our contract with Emi, Universal or whatever big label they have been working". They told me that the labels doesn't support them too much but that add a lot of bureaucracy, excuses and problems that made every thing that the band wanted to do slower or impossible. So they feel being independent as a liberation.

In the past labels were more powerful but nowadays they are weak, and most of them misunderstand the new tools to promote music correctly. The only three pros that I find in Argentinean labels are: (1) Radio rotation, (2) if everything goes right they give you money to record your album & (3) Fake Awards (yes, most of the awards are arranged and are used to give press to a band or album).

I vote for going independent and I recommend this site and book called the new rockstar philosophy: http://www.newrockstarphilosophy.com/


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klasaine
post Apr 19 2014, 05:45 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Apr 19 2014, 06:41 AM) *
I don't know how it goes in other places, but in here, TV and radio stations pay broadcasting rights to artists whose music the stations will play. I don't know if it's valid for the digital environment - I mean if a digital radio station or tv broadcasts your music, do they have to pay royalties?

That sort of digital pennies would be good as well smile.gif



Digital streaming (TV and Radio) does have to pay for plays but the rate is very low. I don't the exact numbers because I can't find what I would call an 'accurate' accounting and for example Pandora, Spotify, Sirius/XM all pay different rates.

If you search 'what does Pandora pay songwriters' you'll get a lot of research material. For example ... http://consumerist.com/2013/06/24/how-much...t-its-not-much/ But I can't verify those numbers.

*(Terrestrial) Radio in the states never paid royalties directly to the songwriters/bands. The radio stations (as well as any establishment that plays the radio or has bands that play published music) pay fees (determined by size of business) to the licensing agencies: BMI, ASCAP, SESAC and then those agencies take samples per demographic and pay royalties out of a pool of monies. http://www.bmi.com/creators/royalty/us_radio_royalties/basic

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Saoirse O'Shea
post Apr 19 2014, 06:32 PM
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As Ken says provided the digital streamer is licensed they will pay an aggregated amount to the relevant performance rights body who will then distribute. In principle it's much the same for traditional terrestrial broadcasting. If you do not use suitable ISRC on your release then don't hold your breath waiting for your share.

One word of caution for those self-releasing - at least one major digital redistributor has been found to not use standard ISRCs on material sent to them for digital distrbution. They instead encoded their own version, which will not be recognised by any performance rights body. I'm not sure if they still do this but they did for quite a while.

Also, if you distribute your material as mp3s you should also be aware that ISRC is not a standard metatag and needs to be specially set.


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Get your music professionally mastered by anl AES registered Mastering Engineer. Contact me for Audio Mastering Services and Advice and visit our website www.miromastering.com

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We use professional, mastering grade hardware in our mastering studo. Our hardware includes:
Cranesong Avocet II Monitor Controller, Dangerous Music Liasion Insert Hardware Router, ATC SCM Pro Monitors, Lavry Black DA11, Prism Orpheus ADC/DAC, Gyratec Gyraf XIV Parallel Passive Mastering EQ, Great River MAQ 2NV Mastering EQ, Kush Clariphonic Parallel EQ Shelf, Maselec MLA-2 Mastering Compressor, API 2500 Mastering Compressor, Eventide Eclipse Reverb/Echo.
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Cosmin Lupu
post Apr 20 2014, 08:33 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Apr 19 2014, 05:32 PM) *
As Ken says provided the digital streamer is licensed they will pay an aggregated amount to the relevant performance rights body who will then distribute. In principle it's much the same for traditional terrestrial broadcasting. If you do not use suitable ISRC on your release then don't hold your breath waiting for your share.

One word of caution for those self-releasing - at least one major digital redistributor has been found to not use standard ISRCs on material sent to them for digital distrbution. They instead encoded their own version, which will not be recognised by any performance rights body. I'm not sure if they still do this but they did for quite a while.

Also, if you distribute your material as mp3s you should also be aware that ISRC is not a standard metatag and needs to be specially set.


In here, the cash from broadcasting and TV appearances goes in two major organizations The composer's union and the CREDIDAM - I have no clue what the letters stand for. These two, send the money to each artist's account. It's always a game of chance... some get about 30000 bucks at once even if they hadn't had so much activity and some get almost jack even if they had a lot of activity. The next year, it's viceversa and so on smile.gif


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