Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Noise on the Internets

Steve Albini, who I think of as someone more interested in having an extreme opinion that sounds all rad and cool and makes a great sound bite, rather than a thoughtful insight filled with subtleties and contradictions, is also disingenuous. Why do I say that? Because he knows better.

In this article he goes through the economics of a major-label record contract and concludes snarkily:

The band members have each earned about 1/20 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month.

Well, there are two things with that statement. One is that he conveniently ignores the publishing royalties that the composer(s) in the band makes. The other is that he inserts a $50,000 "buyout" in this contract which of course mathematically makes sure that the band doesn't "recoup".
But also, note that this example band now has all new backline gear. New drums, bass, guitars, etc.
And they sold a quarter-million units. That means that any backline they get from here on out will likely be free because they'll get endorsements.
And and... somehow their tour only grossed $50,000.

I've never seen a Neve without at least one module that needs to be fixed.
The other thing is that the best thing which could happen to a band like this, especially nowadays, is to have had sales of 250,000 units and then get dropped from their label.

Now, they probably wouldn't get dropped at 250,000 units on their first or second album (although they would be arguably rock stars) but they probably would be dropped if they went below 100,000 units. Why is being dropped good? Because then they'd have had all the push from a major label and all the publicity and name recognition, but they can run on their own, owning all their material from here on out and making much more money (per unit) than they ever could have with the major label.

It would be a good scam if you could pull it off as a band. As far as I can tell the reason most bands don't continue to tour and release their own records after being released from a major label is because the band members all hate one another.

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