I hear from artists all the time that want to be “put on” and land a record deal. Sure years and decades back that was a huge thing to want, but let’s look at the current times. The music industry is SUFFERING right now!!! And how are the labels responding? By making the artists suffer even more!!! I read an article the other day that said that all artists that Warner Brothers sign, will now be under 360 deals. That’s not good. If you don’t know what a 360 deal is, that’s when the labels take a percentage of your money from EVERYTHING that you do. Even outside the label. Tours, merchandising, ringtones, singing at your cousin’s wedding. EVERYTHING!!! A full circle (hence, the term “360”). At one point an aritst made the bulk of their money from touring. The labels wouldn’t really touch that. Look at The Roots. They live well even though album sales reflect different. Imagine if The Roots had a 360 deal. Horrible. The labels are doing what they can now to pinch every penny out of an idustry that has a half of cent left.
So why still shoot for that record deal? You want that big fame, I know. But in this digital age, you can build your name and buzz without the backing of a major record label. Distribution? Who still buys regular CDs anymore? Distribute your product digitally online. Or if you want physical CDs, go to someone like Discmakers and get great CD packages that fit your budget. Video shoot? Have you seen how music videos have been dumbed down visually? Hype Williams is in tears somewhere. Big budget videos are dead. You and your team can save up money to do your own video with a great up and coming local director, and instantly upload it to YouTube. Or press it up yourselves on to DVD.
But wait, I know why some folks really want a record deal…THE MONEY!! Wake up people. A lot of these aritsts are not caked up like you think they are. How can they be when the label is taking everything that they own. You get mere pocket change for the sell of each album. The artist gets paid LAST!!! And now the labels are reaching in your pockets to take your tour money too. They are HURTING right now, so they are in turn hurting the artists.
My advice: As always, I encourage people to LEARN THIS BUSINESS!!! If you were never aware of a 360 deal until you read this, then you have some learning to do. If you were not aware that an artist is the last person to get paid off of their album sales, then you have some learning to do. If you don’t know that the lil signing bonuses and gifts that the label give you are not free and are actually being paid for by YOU, then you have some learning to do. If you don’t know that some labels won’t let their artists do songs with other artists just because they say so, you have some learning to do. My next piece of advice, learn the game enough to do things yourself and become your own entitity. Don’t let signing to a Def Jam or J Records be your goal. Especially if it means you’re gonna be as poor as you were before you got signed. Educate yourself. Reach higher than the majors, because right now they are reaching high in your pockets.