Nothing gets me more frustrated than great artists seeing a record deal as their end goal. Most musicians are well educated in 2018. There are so many opportunities all around us, that artists let slip by just because they dream about that record deal. In this blog post, I will explain how a record deal in 2018 can destroy your music career.
The first album
We know the horror stories of bands that got signed to a record label and as a result, nothing happened… There was a great promise of a four album deal. The first album came out with a great fanfare. There was a tour and the album seemed to be doing great. But the fact was, it was great in the eyes of an independent artists eyes, not the record executives. Somewhere along the line, the band felt that the record label lost interest. There was no more budget for promotion. And the communication between the artist and the label had reduced to one-sided emails from the artist to the label asking for more support. No one answered those emails
But the band still were being hopeful, after all, it was a four-album contract. They went back to the rehearsal rooms and started writing and practising new material. It was sounding fantastic! The band approached the label to start recording their second album, but there was no sign of the promised advance. The band was still not losing hope. Surely the label wanted to make the most of the four-album contract. So the band talked to the studio where they recorded their first album and with the promise of the record label advance got some credit to start recording their new music, while it was still fresh. They were a smart band, they knew that every bit of money they spent on the studio, would need to be recouped from their cut from the album sales, they still had not seen any money from the first album apart from the record label advance… The second album was recorded in two weeks and mixed in another two weeks. At this point, the band had run a bill of $9000. Still no sign of the second album advance.
All about the statistics
So what was going on with the record label? Well, they had spent their allocated budget on the first album. They had spent the promotional budget, took a quick look at the statistics and made a desition not to spend more. You see, they are a business. They take calculated risks, no more than that. If the allocated investment (advance to the band and the promotion) does not substantially scale the band, they will recoup their investment and move on to the next band. For them, it is all about tipping the scale. You spend money to launch a new act until the scales tip and the new act start making money, lots of it. If that initial investment did not tip the scales enough, the record label has no reason to believe your next album will do any better. You see, as I said above for the record label it’s all about the statistics.
Record label does not have to release your album
What about the bands four-album contract? This is the nasty bit. The band is tight to a four-album contract. Until they deliver the four albums, they are not allowed to release any music independently, or with any other label. What most bands choose to ignore is the fact that nowhere in a standard record label deal does it say that the record label has to release those four albums. Most bands in this situations either end up in a lengthy and expensive legal battle or just give up as a band.
But don’t take my word for this. Ryan Kairalla is a Lawyer and Author. His book “Break the Business” explains the ins and outs how record labels are designed to serve the record label, not the artist. And how you actually are much better off going the independent route in the twenty-first century. Ryan has worked with countless artists who have lived through the above story. His book is a must-read for anybody who dreams about making it in the music business. This book can be the difference between success and failure.
Be your own boss
In 2018 you have all the tools available to build a viable business around your music. You can record your album at the fraction of a cost in your home studio, from what it used to be. You can find musicians to help you in platforms like Melosity and you can do it all online at your own schedule. There are countless websites offering design services for your album covers, check out fiverr.com. Musicians have access to worldwide distribution through companies like CD baby. And most of all, through live shows, social media, your own website and mailing list there are endless ways to promote your music all across the globe. As an independent artist, you will be in charge of your own career. All you have to do is put in the hard work.
This blog was brought to you by the online music collaboration platform, Melosity.com. We bring musicians together from all over the world, giving them the opportunity to work simultaneously on the same project via our online studio. Join today, connect with musicians and start making music together instantly. Click here to find out more.