During my quest to find a new label home for my upcoming CD, I figured it would be beneficial to pass along some of the things Iâ€™ve learned in the process:
– Your traditional record guys, most with a lengthy track record of success at the major label level â€œback in the dayâ€, who decide to start their own label are to be avoided at all costs. They are some “out for themselves” MF’ers intent on maintaining a lifestyle well above that of most successful recording artists.
– From the “It Seems Obvious Now” Dept.: Hire your own interpreter when negotiating key contract points with a Japanese label. Though they may have spoken fluent English when telling you how great you were and how much they loved your music, their comprehension of the language will dissipate in direct proportion to the importance of the points being discussed.
– When a UK label flies in to L.A. for the sole purpose of catching your first live show in three years, make sure that more than thirty people show up. Sure, there were over 200 people at the next show, but no record label exec’s came to that one.
– Nothing is more rock & roll than a good bidding war between two or more labels (or so Iâ€™ve been told). Mine wasnâ€™t over money, but, rather, the number of free copies each label would provide to me up-front at no cost. Back forth it went for what seemed like weeks. The buzz-kill came when I realized that, as each label countered with a higher number of freebies, the cost of purchasing subsequent copies also got higher. I had always dreamt of the kind of bidding war where millions of dollars lied in the balance, each side raising the dollar amount of the advance, or the royalty rate Iâ€™d receive. Instead, here we were going back and forth over a couple thousand freebies, which, more than likely, would probably be the only benefit of signing with them anyway.
– Three words: Keep your publishing. Seriously, even the piddly little indie labels want a chunk of your publishing these days, all thinking theyâ€™re the next P. Diddy or something.
– I was serious about the publishing.
– Just because the highest level exec at the label is courting you doesnâ€™t insure your album will be a priority. By the same token, guys who act like your â€œbest friendâ€ during the courting and negotiation process wonâ€™t even make eye contact once the ink dries.
– Putting the record out yourself may not be as glamorous as entering into a one-sided deal with the Devil, but at least you get to keep your masters.
And your PUBLISHING!