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Same old story Different Band...
Old 6th December 2002
Here for the gear
MephistoOdyssey's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Unhappy Same old story Different Band...

I have an electronica act that signed a major label deal in late '98. the project was formed 6 years prior by myself and my best friend from highschool. We both have formal musical training and have become good producer's over the years. In '97 when the hype on electronica was at it's high point because of bands like the Prodigy and the Crystal Method, the labels started sniffing around other similar acts.
BTW I am trying to to be vague to protect the inocent (mainly me), so I am not going to name names etc...
At the time some industry friends had risen up the music food chain, one in particular was a vp of A & R at one of the bigger labels, many others had become A & R at major labels as well.
A friend/DJ/record shop owner, introduced us to one such A & R guy from a major who shopped there, and to make a long story short we eventually decided to sign with him. As part of the agreement our record shop friend had to be part of the project to help advise on production, run the indi label releases of our club vinyl and prousumabley DJ on the road to promote the band and record since my partner and I are mainly writers and producers.
We had felt all along that this person should have been involved but to a much lesser degree, not as part of our signed project. After all we had sacrificed our lives for music and this guy owns a record shop and introduced us to the A & R guy and now he's part of the band?!!
I would have gladly walked and signed to the next available offer even if it meant less money and or prestige but by the time we realized he was going to be part of the deal we had been negotiating our contract with an attorney from a big firm for about 3 months and had already put out a single of our remixes for a huge rock act that hit the billboards top 25 maxi single chart and we were in favor with the label in question so it looked like we'd have a lot of support.
Boy was I wrong!!! In all fairness our A & R rep was very supportive but he was inexperienced and just didn't have the political pull to get everything lined up. In fact everything that could have got us the exposure we needed fell through in the course of recording our LP. I also was told by one of the heads of distribution during a phone conference that they didn't even know how to deal with a band like ours and that we'd have been better of signing to an indi. basically they did nothing to help on the distribution end. It was disheartening and embarrasing to see our competition getting massive exposure on small indi labels in big record stores while we were not even carried by every chain.
Inspite of this before the LP was done I sucked it up and talked a friend in a platinum selling rock act into singing on a single i wrote (he added a lot as well, great guy!). We did it and then it seemed as though the label got a glimmer of interest as the track was an obvious alt rock single. I thought that it might actually save the project as I knew at this point that label was not going to support anything electronic.
meanwhile or record store owning bandmate rareley shows up to the studio or to shows. He is sometimes unreachable for a week or two at a time. We hired a friend to DJ on the road in our PA and kept working on the LP, remixes and doing gigs. Our plates were full!
The single I wrote ended up getting us a lucrative publishing deal and even a video. Then the **** hit the fan big time! Our absenty band mate and manager who was slightly less active than the prior were suddenly in or faces with their hands out waiting to get paid from this publishing deal. Well The manager wanted 5% more than we had agreed on and threatened to leave if he didn't get it and the record store owning absenty bandmate wanted an equal cut even though he didn't do any of the writing. First of all I do understand that you have to play politics in this business and sometimes people get part of your hard work who didn't do much. It goes with the territory. But this guy didn't write a damn thing not to mention he hated the very single that I wrote that got us the deal in the first place. At best he helped contribute a few beats and prodction ideas on a few tracks. So we tried to very diplomatically explain to him that he wasn't going to get an equal share of the money. We were very diplomatice, mainly because at one time we all were good friends and we wanted to try and keep some of that. He wasn't happy but in the end he got 18% of a pretty large pie. It was a lot of money in my opinion, more than some people make in a year, for doing very little. Not to mention he already had a succesful business that raked in the dough, it's not like he was hurting. All my founding partner and i had was our talent and this deal up to that point.
Well to try and shorten this novel the manager quit after receiving his pay of 15% (a large sum of money), and our record store friend quite the band after dissapearing for two months. we never spoke again. in fact he never spoke to the A & R guy who signed us and made him part fo the deal. That was almost two years ago.
You'd think that getting a new manager would be easy when you're on a big label and about to release a single to radio and a video. Not if you aren't big with a proven track record! Or alteast have enough money to pay them something but unfortunateley all that money went to the old manager before he quit.
Without a manager a large label stops moving in your favor and everything pretty much fell apart. Our single although getting radio and video play never really did much. The label didn't do anything further to promote the album. I tried to get them to release a single of the "single" but they said no because it would hurt our album sales (I don't see how, it wasn't even in half the chains). The deal slowly died over the next six months or so and eventually we got dropped a year later.
My best friend and cofounder of the project and I had been through so much that our stress levels were at an all time high by this point, not to mention the depression that set in. My partner was seeing a shrink at the end and I started taking anti depressants! He and his girlfriend split and he moved away. I have know idea where he is or how to get in touch with him. Seventeen years of friendship down the drain. Know one I know has heard from him since. My girlfriend dumped me when she saw the party was ending. Everyone loves a party but know one wants to stick around when it's over. You really learn who your friends are. Let me tell you there weren't many when all said and done. I sold the studio, the fancy car and took the remainder of the money from the deal and dropped out of sight. I havent' been able to get back to work for about a year now and although I have glimmers of inspiration I have not done anything. My part of the story luckily doesn't have a totally sad ending. I did meet my soul mate and I moved cross country with her to restart my life. I even bought a house with the money I had left. I built a nice tracking studio in my house and I'm starting to get back on my feet and back to work but it's going to take time to totally get back on track emotionally. I still love music and believe it is my destiny but this was without a doubt the hardest experience of my life. I'm not sure I could do it again.
I'm sure that many of you out their can relate atleast in aprt to my story. Anyone who has a story or advice, or better yet some work give us a shout.
Old 7th December 2002
Lives for gear
Renie's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
I know what you've gone through is tough.
I've had the major label scene too.

What I can say is that I see it as a massive, valuable learning experience now. Both businesswise, musicwise and psychologically.

I think I'm lucky to have that experience...

Life is tough, if a rough ride in the music industry shows up the cracks, they are there to be shown anyway. If it defeats you, you were defeated from the beginnng anyway.

I believe life is 90% our attitude and 10% what happens to us.

You could look back in time not as a victim of your experience but as a learner, and feel at peace with it.

You can rebuild, and I wish you the best of luck with this new stage on your journey!
Old 8th December 2002
Here for the gear
MephistoOdyssey's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Thanks for the word...

hi Renie,
Your words of wisdom are much appreciated. I didn't want to sound too bitter lol. I do agree with you whole heartedly. I am disappointedly gratefully for the experience, but wouldn't change it. I still have friends at the label and in the industry that worked on our project. They are good people. If there was something that failed us it was the machine/system not the people. As for music I am building a new studio in my new house and looking forward to the future although one is always a bit uncertain when starting from scratch.
Old 11th December 2002
Lives for gear
Renie's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years

Starting out again can be scary,- exciting too!!
Glad I could help,
See you around

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