EMI serious?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Ben Jammin', Mar 27, 2004.

  1. Ben Jammin'

    Ben Jammin' Guest

    Jul 13, 2003
    Falmouth, Cornwall, UK
    The other night my band played a set at a concert in truro, cornwall, uk. About 500 people turned up. One of them was a scout working for E.M.I. records and must have been impressed because he has since asked us to send a demo to them, which they guaruntee they'll listen to.
    I was wondering how many bands this happens to and whether it's worth getting our hopes up. Also if anyone has any A & R related tips they can lend they'd be much appreciated.
  2. Wow. That's pretty cool. Congrats and let's hope you get more scouts to attend your shows!
  3. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Make sure you copyright everything before sending it to an A&R person. Label all your stuff as "copyrighted". Most of the big labels are legit that way, but you never know, you might run into an unscrupulous individual. Best to be safe and protect your interests.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I don't want to put a downer on this - but a similar experience was the worst thing that happened to a good band I was in, in the 1980s.

    So - EMI, liked the demo, wanted to make a single - we were ecstatic and I can remember signing this contract in a local pub with the A &R man and thinking - we've got it made !!

    So - we all had to sign every page of this long contract - which included things like performances anywhere in the Solar System!! :eek: ;)

    So anyway - we got an advance of several thousand which was great we thought - OK off with EMI who wanted to re-record the songs we'd demoed, for a single to start with - they assigned their own producer etc.

    So - it was a complete nightmare - this guy was saying how none of it was any good - so I remember partculalry how I was playing fretless bass and he was putting a tuner on it and saying - that bit's out of tune we can't use that !! But of course any slide on fretless is going to have out of tune parts - he was an idiot!!

    All the sessions were a disaster and the producer and engineer were smoking dope and taking ages over everything - it drove a wedge in the band and eventually EMI assigned a new producer (Culture Club Drummer Jon Moss) -who proceeded to wipe out all the instruments and replace them with programmed keyboards - leaving only vocals!! :mad:

    All this was at great expense and by then we had virtually used up all the advance - the band were at each others throats and the eventual single released, sounded nothing like the band and was bland and boring!! EMI released it but didn't do anything to promote it - what a waste of time!!

    We basically split up - but were contracted to EMI for 2 years - we couldn't do anything else - but they weren't giving any more money!!

    Basically what we thought was a great beginning to our musical careers was the end!! :(

    We all thought we would have been better off releasing our original demos independently!! :meh:
  5. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    Obviously, my first piece of advice is don’t sign anything without having someone who is QUALIFIED to tell you exactly what rights, obligations, etc. you are agreeing to. There are lots of people/lawyers who like to think they know the music business, but don’t. I can’t tell you how many big name lawyers I come across who represent big name talent that can’t explain the intricacies of many of the documents their clients sign.

    Many of them have very good social skills and/or are connected to the right managers, but their “best interest” may not be yours. For example, many lawyers take a percentage of the record deals they get for their clients. Therefore, many lawyers are tempted to focus on the band’s advance because that’s what they get a piece of. However, bigger advances can mean a smaller royalty rate for the band.

    Also, many artists/bands are focused on their royalty rate. They think if they get a high royalty rate, then their lawyer really kicked ass and they can brag about it when they are hanging out with other artists at parties. If a lawyer wants to play this simple minded game, it’s pretty easy. Just don’t argue about a lot of other really important financial stuff in the agreement and the record company will probably give the band a really high royalty rate. Now the lawyer has gotten the band a big advance and a big royalty rate, and the band thinks the lawyer is amazing. However, if you give that agreement to someone who really knows how to run the numbers, you’ll likely see you paid a big price down the road.

    Many lawyers feel that “artists will come and go, but Universal Music is forever” which translates into not wanting to be too aggressive with the label because they have dealings with them on a lot of artists/bands and not just yours. I could go on and on, but suffice to say that if you are not being asked to sign anything, then continue to work the relationship every which way you can. If you are asked to sign something, you better fully understand what it says and what the motivation of the person explaining it to you is. Hopefully, anyone you engage will be highly skilled and without conflicts of interest.

    Unfortunately, Bruce’s story is by far the rule rather than the exception. Relatively modest sums of money, long term commitments, internal squabble, creative differences among the label and the band as well as among the band itself, outside producers, etc. And that’s the good part of those stories ;-) I’m currently working to get 2 separate artists released from deals right now and both have had their careers on hold for over a year!

    There’s a lot more to say, and for sure there’s another side to some of what I wrote. For example, there are people who legitimately feel big advances are better (e.g., because it’s the only money you’ll ever see) and why it’s important to have managers and lawyers who know one another very well (e.g., because their personalities/styles work well together).

    I’ve got to run, but I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!!!
  6. sounds suspiciously like they were deliberately wasting time to stretch out the session.

    it seems like there's a million ways to exploit inexperienced musicians in the studio- be it at the record company or musicians' own expense.

    there's a bit about this in the biography of the band James-
    during the recording of the Brian Eno-produced album "Laid", Eno deemed a first or second take of a song fit to be presented to the record company-
    because it was Eno producing, they said "this is great!- so raw and stripped down", but if it had been an unknown producer they'd have sent them back to the studio saying "this is sloppy- do it again".
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes - I'm sure it happens to more bands, but it took me several years to get over it and not be embarassed about the events - I'm sure most people don't really want to talk about how naive they were...:meh:

    I never saw any of the advance in that case - the only money I got was personal appearance fees from TV - paid by the TV companies !

    After that I determined only to work with people I knew and met a local producer who had his own studio and put out records himself, of music that he liked. I always thought that if I came into money - won the lottery (!) - that's what I'd do! ;)
  8. Ben Jammin'

    Ben Jammin' Guest

    Jul 13, 2003
    Falmouth, Cornwall, UK
    Hmm... many complications ahead senses I. Guess we gotta tread carefully and avoid commitment for now.
    Another thing i was wondering is if E.M.I. were to give us something we dont like or isn't fair in our eyes, could turning them down help us get deals with other, possibly more suited companies?
    Also out of bands who are requested to send demos, can anyone give me a rough rate as to how many are actually offered something (considering their demo is good)?

    Cheers for the help and any more would be much appreciated
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    How would this work - how would the other companies know for a start? :meh:

    I think if you went to another company and said - "we turned down EMI" - they would just take it as boasting or bravado and probably think you were just a bit pretentious and maybe not worth dealing with.

    You might also get a reputation as "difficult to work with" .....

    How could anybody possibly know the answer to this? The record companies don't get together to produce figures and I think each one is different.

    Of the "Majors" - pretty much every one says that more than 99% will go straight into the bin - but it's only anecdotal evidence based on "tales of an A&R man" - there are no reliable sources for this information really! :meh:
  10. bear in mind that your A&R scout will have to convince several other people that you're worth the record company's investment.
    and image will play as big if not a bigger part in it as the music....
    "considering their demo is good" is so subjective-
    it could be well played, well-produced, everyone in the office could even enjoy listening to it, but if they predict they wouldn't be able to make money from the act (the prime concern of a major label, especially in these times when the BPI is blaming internet downloads for alledged falls in sales) then it's a no......

    I'd take the scout's promises as a compliment to your band, and not a guarantee of anything.

    another classic problem is of A&R personnel changes at a record company- ie. the person who originally showed interest in the band subsequently leaving the label, and the artist being stuck in limbo with half-hearted attention from the company.
  11. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
  12. GrooveSlave


    Mar 20, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    Anyone considering getting involved with a record company should read the Mixerman Diaries. This link is currently under construction but, they say it will be up again soon. This is a LONG read and like eating peanuts - you can't stop once you start. FWIW

  13. I spent a lot of time reading the mixerman stuff. While it is a fun read, what makes it so fun is that you think it really happened. I found out that it's more fiction than not. Since I heard that I haven't read it.

    PS, best of luck with record people.
  14. the Mixerman diaries seem to me to be an amalgamation of stories about various bands- there are far too many clues that would give away the identity of the band to anyone in the industry.

    plus I can't believe a record company would allow such incompetence over such a long period without results......unless the band in question is Guns n' roses:D (and there are rumours Geffen have stopped funding the recording of Chinese Democracy)