Tag Archives: Major Labels

The Problem With Music – Awesome Rant by Steve Albini – independent and corporate rock record producer most widely known for producing Nirvana’s “In Utero”.

Whenever I talk to a band who are about to sign with a major label, I always end up thinking of them in a particular context. I imagine a trench, about four feet wide and five feet deep, maybe sixty yards long, filled with runny, decaying shit. I imagine these people, some of them good friends, some of them barely acquaintances, at one end of this trench. I also imagine a faceless industry lackey at the other end holding a fountain pen and a contract waiting to be signed. Nobody can see what’s printed on the contract. It’s too far away, and besides, the shit stench is making everybody’s eyes water. The lackey shouts to everybody that the first one to swim the trench gets to sign the contract. Everybody dives in the trench and they struggle furiously to get to the other end. Two people arrive simultaneously and begin wrestling furiously, clawing each other and dunking each other under the shit. Eventually, one of them capitulates, and there’s only one contestant left. He reaches for the pen, but the Lackey says “Actually, I think you need a little more development. Swim again, please. Backstroke”. And he does of course.

Every major label involved in the hunt for new bands now has on staff a high-profile point man, an “A & R” rep who can present a comfortable face to any prospective band. The initials stand for “Artist and Repertoire.” because historically, the A & R staff would select artists to record music that they had also selected, out of an available pool of each. This is still the case, though not openly. These guys are universally young [about the same age as the bands being wooed], and nowadays they always have some obvious underground rock credibility flag they can wave. Continue reading

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Why Pandora Can’t Get Out of Their Box


Today I was turned on to an interesting article called Pandora founder pursues bigger piece of radio pieby Antony BrunoAccording to the article, the last quarter of last year was the first quarter the company has ever recorded a net profit.

But, to quote the article:

“Despite all this momentum, it’s not enough to sustain the kind of growth Westergren hopes to achieve. Pandora raked in $50 million in revenue in 2009, which the company hopes to double by the end of the year. Of that, it paid $30 million in royalties to the music industry as agreed to in the CRB rate settlement with performance rights organization SoundExchange.

That agreement calls for Pandora to pay either a per-stream rate for each song it plays or 25 percent of all revenue, whichever is greater. Pandora needs to generate 8 cents per user per hour to shift the royalty burden to the revenue-share model. Currently, it’s bringing in only 2 cents per user per hour.

‘Pandora can’t survive on network advertising,” Westergren says. “The site’s too expensive to run because of the licensing. We have to command premium rates.’ ”

Their answer to this seems to be creating a situation where artists offer content exclusively on Pandora, and then Pandora would sell the advertising for that content at “premium rates.” This has been found to work in the past for the company, with one example being a Dave Matthews Band listening party. However this solution can essentially only ever be a counter balance on the scale, to the royalty fees paid, and so they will constantly be in a struggle to both convince artists to give exclusive content to the site, and then to sell the advertising at the highest possible price.

Their solution equates to a wad of gum in the hole in the dyke. If Tim Westergren wanted to truly solve his problems once and for all, he will have to think about the situation completely differently. Continue reading

The Top 12 Reasons Not to Sign to a Label

1. Loss of Rights – If you’re a new act, almost 95% of the time, if you want that big label contract, you have to sign over your publishing rights. This is a HUGE problem. Basically, anything you write, which by just the pen touching the paper, or finger touching the key, is automatically copyrighted, you are giving directly to the Label so they can go make more money off of it than you do. Now some people may make the argument that without the label you couldn’t make any money at all, but with the internet getting more and more sophisticated, this will get less and less true, which is already the case for some. ie: Lisa Lavie

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