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Getting "Signed"

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Thunderthumbs73, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. Oh, really? Try finding a 16 track studio quality analog tape machine (including hiss, generation degradation, wow and flutter, etc.) for less than that. Ok, maybe a quarter million, but still. . . Now add a few racks of processors and effects.

    The point I'm trying to make is that you can get good digital equipment that enables you to record with the equivalent or better quality of good old analog gear for a fraction of the price. Sure, 15-20 yrs. ago, we could've jumped on the ADAT bandwagon, which would've run us about $25K for a minimal 16 tk. setup with only the vital processing. We looked at that and decided to wait. . .

    With the Mac, we have as many tracks as we need, a rackful of processors, minimal distortion, no degradation. . .

    Apples and oranges.
  2. If you really believe that those Apex mics and Mackie mic pre's are the equivalent of what you will find in a half million dollar studio you have never worked in a half million dollar studio. Having lots of plugins to play with and unlimited tracks is nice. It doesn't help with the fundamental problem of capturing a sound in the first place. For that you want good mics, good mic preamps and a good sounding room. All of those things are just as expensive as they ever were.
  3. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI
    As did Pantera. I've been thinking about this alot more and it's really enticing me. IMO, it seems like all a label will do for you is the legwork... the promoting, booking, finding a studio, etc. For this service they take some of your profits. If you do your own legwork, you take more home. My rhythm guitarist/vocalist works at a studio, and gets virtually unlimited free studio time for his own projects, so that's covered. Why would I ever want to get on a label if I could make my own?
  4. Well actually, I was specifying a half million just for the tape machine, since that's the most expensive single component, which is what the Mac replaces.

    Granted, our mics and pres are not the ultimate in quality, but they're not the bottom of the barrel, either. The Onyx pres on the Mackie are pretty sweet, actually. Our room does sound good, although with everything close miced, you don't hear much of it anyway. (But the wine cellar makes a great reverb chamber!:D) IMO, spending thousands or millions for a <1% improvement is just sonic snobbery, anyway. There's nothing inherently wrong with the signal that goes to our Mac, and the mixes that'll come out of it.
  5. bassandbeyond


    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    It used to be that the main things a label could offer you were promotion and distribution. Obviously, the retail distribution factor is getting pretty irrelevant in the age of the download. Potentially, a major promotional push can still make a big difference for a new artist, but it doesn't seem like the major labels are even effective at doing promotion anymore.

    So, as far as I can tell, the only thing they really have to offer you now is a big advance, which can be quite enticing to some starving young musicians.

    I'm wholeheartedly into the DIY approach now, but remember, you have to do EVERYTHING yourself now, from graphic design to organizing publicity campaigns. That can be a pretty overwhelming amount of work.
  6. bakeronbass


    Apr 3, 2007
    Humboldt Ca
    Endorsing Artist; Schroeder Cabinets
    Yes As far as I know Ian Mckay the singer for fugazi started dischord records in the late eighties with his band Minor Threat. There were only two or three bands on that label throughout the early ninties. I cant for the life of me remember the other band that started it but I think it was the guitarist project. All from DC
  7. I think this depends on what act you got. A very close friend of mine has turned down both Warner and EMI in favor for smaller indie labels. His act is kind of alternative singer songwriter style and a big label would probably risk killing his brand if things didn't went well and then they'd just put him on hold for a year or two and by that he'd be tied up in a vacuum and not able to do anything about it.

    If you had a mainstream kind of act that demanded the entire chain supported by the major labels, it'd probably be a better thing going with them to get the air time and the tv-promotions etc.

    The big one's will always be there, but the smaller indie networks are growing their audience thanks to the internet and are often better on open up "underground" markets than the big ones could ever be ..

    A good thing to have these days, is a brilliant very driven and marketing oriented manager that believes in your act, that's a good start for getting your music out to people.

    Just my 5 cents ...

  8. troyus


    Apr 9, 2008
    San Diego, CA.
    Yes. And they were approached many many times by the major labels and turned down every time. Greg Ginn did the same thing with SST records for Black Flag, because they couldn't find anyone willing to push their stuff. It was called SST because he sold Solid State Tuners before he put the band together, and he just kept the name.
  9. It's probably kind of rare to make a living on cd/download sales only unless you are in the magnitude of celine dion (who also happens to have a client base that actually buys records/downloads).

    Airtime generates some, and if you can get your tunes in tv/radio-commercials or such, there's a good income (often well paid) and then of course you get some cash on the copyright royalties for the part of airtime of the commercial as well.

    Bigger acts who play huge venues probably earn a huge part of their incomes on that and the merchandising related to the concerts.

    No one said it was easy... hehe.

  10. GhettoBrassGuy

    GhettoBrassGuy Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Simi Valley, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull, Lakland, Aguilar, JH Audio
    Bands who think being signed is "making it" are completely oblivious. Nowadays you have to have a DIY mentality. The big labels are there to push you over the top once you've got the momentum and they know it's a sure thing. I'm in a band that is on Universal Records, and while it was exciting getting wined, dined and signed...we still do everything ourselves except put the record in stores...and they're paying for the new record we're recording, our 2nd on the label. We don't take out tour support, we book as many shows as we can...and we'll still have our record and a career if/when they drop us. :hyper:
  11. But if they pay for the recording, would you still be able to even get close to the recordings if your collaboration was put to an end?

    My friend (mentioned above) produces and pays for all his recordings himself, or actually his main indie label (he has several for different countries, one for each territory (country)) are lending him money that he pays back (like advances) and he keeps slim budgets and in the end he owns the productions 100%.

  12. Mr_Krinkle


    Apr 28, 2008
    Wow. It's perfect, all you have to do to make money is to write songs that appeal to a large group of people who are too technologically decrepit to get free downloads!!
    I loathe Celine Dion, as do most Canadians.
  13. Hehehe, something like that yeah, right on the money.

    In general I do like her albums where she sings in French, feels a lot more "real" than the other pop/trash albums she's doing, the last one "D'elles" is full of excellent songs and lyrics, though some of the productions on it are still a bit "cack" imho.

  14. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Record deals mean jack ****. As everyone is saying, today's game is DIY or die.
  15. idoru


    Dec 18, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    We recorded with a guy (Stu Niven, Modern Music) who works between Brisbane & LA; over lunch he gave us his take on the whole "being signed" thing in the states. Thing is, you guys have a truckload more record labels than we do, so it's more common.

    According to Stu, the typical ratio that a major label sees is this: out of every 15 bands signed, one will make money, one might break even and the other thirteen will achieve nothing. Now, this is one man's opinion, but it makes sense that it's all a numbers game.

  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I really don't know what to make of the music business right now. It seems by being able to do things so easily now, songs as product have kind of lost their value. And you really do need to target audiences that don't download to sell CD's. So get out those accordions and let's polka!!
  17. calebbarton


    Aug 25, 2007
    I manufacture for several companies including but not limited to: Bridge City Sound, Catalinbread, more.
  18. Implosion


    Oct 19, 2007
    The importance of being signed has certainly changed, but in some genres the promotion and exposure you get from the label is still significant (if you get a deal with a good label). Their contacts can be valuable and produce such results, that no matter how hard an un-signed band promotes they don't reach the same level. Also pay-to-play shows are more fun when the label coughs up the money :D
  19. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    One small problem in the DIY approach -- tons and tons of awful recordings. The tools are cheap and easily acquired these days, but the skills to use them are not -- good producers and engineers are still invaluable...of all the musicians I've met and worked with, only one had enough skill in that area to make quality recordings -- most have no clue how even to make a guitar and bass sound good together -- trust that person with a desktop studio?? Um...no.

    Getting started is different in some ways, but the principles are the same -- you used to make stacks of tapes, now you put up a myspace page...but in some ways the old approach was more effective -- if a tape made its way around, it was a big deal. But any schmo can put up their music on sites on the web -- so effectively, the web is just storage -- you still have to promote the hell out of yourself to get your recordings to stand out among the millions that sitting around. If you find a good label to work with, that promotion aspect could be the most valuable part of the relationship!

    I wonder -- are there cases where folks here would /refuse/ a deal offer?
  20. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    No offense, but where have you been? The music business - as it once was - has been in virtual free fall for at least the past decade. The industry has been shaken to its very core, and everything is in total flux.

    With so much chaos and uncertainty, many musicians mistakenly assume this to bode ill for their careers. But in reality, it mostly bodes ill for the major record labels - because they're predatory dinosaurs who are so invested in the dying status quo, that they can't adapt - so they may never again be able to prey upon naive, gullible musicians as they once did. For smart, entrepreneurial musicians with a sharp business sense, all this upheaval is a HUGE opportunity!

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