Why I want to run a small big label

When I was a child, I wanted to be rockstar. As I grew up, my childlike enthusiasm and love for music gave way to an emotionally complex and often painful relationship with music. At the nexus was an ever increasing feeling of hopelessness that I’d ever become a rockstar. I believed I needed to get a record deal, which seemed almost impossible, and even if I did get a record deal, how could I sign one? From the first moment I found out how record deals were structured, I simply couldn’t believe it was true. I couldn’t understand how a contract like that existed and that lots of musicians would willingly sign one. I was only a teenager at the time, but the inherent unfairness made me furious. I knew on a gut level right then and there that I’d never sign a record deal like that. The mere thought of it made me feel way too icky. Over the years, I let my dreams of being a rockstar rot in my soul until I finally just walked away from music altogether about 10 years ago.

The “inherent unfairness” that I’m referencing is the 90/10 split in the label’s favor, which was standard at the time. That split sounded unfair to me, but my heart broke when I found out how “recoupment” works. I learned that the money the label spent on recording your album and any money they gave you, so you could live on while you were writing and/or recording the album was considered an “advance” and that “advance” was considered “recoupable.” When I stopped to think about it, I could see how that made sense because the label would want to get their money back and make money too. Otherwise, how would they stay in business? However, when I found out that the artist had to pay back the “advance” out of their 10% split before ever seeing a single penny from royalties, I just about went berserk. And, that was the straw that broke my camel’s back. Once I found that out, I was devastated and simply couldn’t wrap my mind around how anyone would think up such an unfair agreement and why anyone would sign something that mad.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.