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Hi

I thought I'd see if I could persuade the more experienced board users to post biz tips and advice here.

Don't post later, post now...

Cheers

John

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi John,

Seems hard to obtain info from experienced users, ain't it?

Well, as I cannot consider myself successful, it's hard to post biz tips and advices.

On the other hand, a combination of professional life and mistakes might make me be able to discuss things, even if I'm not able to give advices.

So, anyone with questions/subjects to discuss?

Didier

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Thanks Didier.

Ok, I thought an interesting subject would be major label vs indie, pros and cons.

There are obviously lots of views on this and I thought the board users might want to share their opinions.

Cheers

John

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Ok, I thought an interesting subject would be major label vs indie, pros and cons.

Well, I'm pretty sure most of you would have read the article on the Internet, where a band, after selling 100 of thousands of records still own money to the record company, while the record company indeed made a profit.

A very good (bad) French example was the American singer Vince Taylor. He did a single session of recording (in the 60s), spent all the advance payments in Cadillacs, hotels, and the like, and spent the rest of his life owning money to the record company, which means he could not sign anywhere else, etc. He eventually died alone and forgotten, while he had one of the most beautiful voice in Rock N Roll (I saw him once in Lyon).

So I think the cons, with regards to big labels, might be pretty obvious.

But they are counter examples:

Friends of mine (we practically grew up together), a French band called Fragile. What they had for them was a very good singer (if you like that style) and were very professional musicians. I shouldn't give their URL, because they might beat me in Lyon Rock charts, :) but here it is: Fragile (speaking of color schemes, the link is not obvious enough, John)

They signed an album with a major, were in the top 40 in Canada (because the French branch wouldn't do any publicity).

Since they were no fool (and hadn't spent all the advances in hotels, etc.) they were able to cancel the contract, to *their* advantage, and got enough money from that to open their own recording studio, which they run since.

One of the key point in Fragile's story is that first they knew how to read, and next they had their own publishing company. It makes a lot of difference from the start.

I think most people's mistakes, with regards to Majors, is that they don't realize they are an *industry*. Not friends, music lovers or whatever, just an industry.

And they don't take you by surprise (apart from obvious scams), you always have a contract. A contract is something that you read, and you sign only with what you agree on. The old saying is: before a contract, everything is negotiable. After a contract, nothing is.

A good example is the Sex Pistols. They breach a record: the first band to gain more money than the recording companies.

Now with the indie labels. Depending on who they are, you might encounter a lot of them who are just as foolish (and broken) as the average musician :)

They can be a very good launching platform. Good (bad) example was “Boucheries production” in France. They launched with their own sweat and blood the 3 most successful bands in France. And then these 3 bands signed with majors, and the indie label went broke.

Each time a musician asks advices (such as: I’ve got an offer, should I sign, etc.) 90 % of the time the answer from other fellows is: take an entertainment lawyer (especially in North America). If you can’t read and think, no arm in that. Except if the lawyer reads the contract, you don’t.

I’ve seen this trend in other areas. A friend of mine took a lawyer just because he had an issue about a house on which he had made an advance payment. In the end it ended exactly as what I had said him on the matter. Except the lawyer took his fees.

So, it doesn’t really matter whether you discuss with a major or an indie label. They are both industries (from your point of view) nothing more and nothing less.

The point is:

Learn to read and think.

These are more valuable to you than your guitar chops.

If you sign an horible contract, it's not the fault of the company, it's yours.

And once your realize you discuss with a business, and it’s just a matter of negotiating a contract to your best advantage, nothing evil can happen. Unless you sign with your blood a strange contract, on a moonless night, but that’s another story.

I hope you find some of my thoughts an interesting starting point, to more specific discussions.

Didier

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One trick I heard about is they get you to sign a preliminary paper saying you will entertain their offer before anyone elses. If you sign that they have you under their thumb until an offer is formally made, if they never make a formal offer you're stuck

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One trick I heard about is they get you to sign a preliminary paper saying you will entertain their offer before anyone elses. If you sign that they have you under their thumb until an offer is formally made, if they never make a formal offer you're stuck

Hi Nightwolf,

Yes, that's the typical trick from majors. Hundreds (if not thousands) young bands have been trapped into that.

Basically this "letter of intent" says the major may make you an offer in the future. The issue if that the offer never come, other labels don't want to approach you, because of the difficulties to breach that "letter of intent".

On the other hand, a bit of reasonable thinking should prevent any band/artist to sign that kind of "contract", or without sufficient compensation/exit strategy. I say that, because there would be no harm in signing something, as long as the "contract" in question has no legal basis.

That's with the "exit strategy" that my friends from Fragile bought their studio. After an initial album, the major intended them to wait forever doing nothing. But there was a loophole in the contract.

Didier

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