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Stephen Wrench Speaks Getting Ripped Off In the Music Biz

Getting Ripped Off In the Music Biz

The taste of success is so sweet. You got a band and man are you good, so good you just know your gonna make it big. So you play out as many places as you can, you get a good following going who all think your great. Then you expand into other towns and it grows bigger and bigger. Now your really convinced your gonna make it.

Then you find a good studio nad cut a great album. Man things sure do look good. Then you try to find some management who can take you to the next step. This is a monumental task in itself to find someone who believes in you enough to put in their time free. Now there are a lot of these people willing to try this but who do they know? So once agin you are back to square one.

What do you do now? You decide to find some investors and try to raise 50,000 so you can get distribution and release it yourself. Finding investors is eqasy just find anyone with a lot of money who likes your music and they will generally invest cause it’s a great tax write off.

OK now you got the money where do you go from here? You decide to look for a company who has record distribution who deals with radio promoters. Now your swimming in shallow salt water as small fish , bait for the predators and do they ever see you coming. You are now a band with money who is convinced they will make it no matter what cuase you are so good.

You look and you find some promoters who tell you how great you are and man your gonna be stars in no time and for 50 grand they will print , distribute and promote your record wow your gonna be rich. They tell you everything you want to hear and it sounds so sweet. Then on the other side of the spectrum theres these guys who have been in the biz for years and have really been around the block in the big league. But only one problem they don’t tell you what you wanna hear. They tell you the best you can hope for promoting and self releasing no matter how much money you have is to sell a max of 50,000 units and chart on some minor charts and maybe if they do that they will get the attention of some major labels and get a major deal. Hey the other guys said we’d be rich and famous in a matter of months we’re gonna go with them.

The above is a true story of a really great band. They want their name left anonymous. They gave the guy who told them what they wanted to hear $40,000 They got there albums pressed, they got distribution, and on the contract it said they would get their cd sent out to 136 college radio stations and promoted. What does promoted mean that they put on the envelope they sent the cd in this band is really good. A year later they are out 40,000 and back in the same place they started in.

Moral of the story don’t believe everything you hear and believe less of what you want to hear. The real truth is distribution , having your cd put in stores is worthless unless you achieve adequate radio play so people know who you are so they want to buy your cd. There are many good distributors out there, good distributors want to see a promotion plan that tells them your promotion is sound and at least you stand a chance of selling cds cause a good distributor only makes money if you sell units the sharks charge a fee for distribution up front. There are some associated costs such as mailers dist send out to retailers the cost of this should not exceed $3000 any more is a rip off. Radio promoters good ones don’t have glitzy websites they are usually one or two man shows that advertise nowhere you have to know someone who knows them ask them what have the promoted that climbed the charts lately. Good radio promoters work off of personal relationships and they wont risk promoting crap for money .

The plus side of releasing your own cd and distributing it and promoting it is if you do it right and don’t get eaten by sharks you might chart well on fmqb (Friday morning radio quarterback) This a chart that is voted on by radio music directors. One that labels look at seriously. If you chart well achieve some good radio play you might sell some units and if you achieve both you will get the attention of the majors cause they know if you can chart in the fmqb top 100 and sell 10,000 units by yourself with the support of a major label they can sell a million on you. Remember Clear Channels radio owns about 75% of all major station in the US and they are controlled by major labels so any radio play you get is gonna be on the other 25% of the radio stations certainly limits your success. But if done right without getting eaten by the sharks at least you stand a fighting chance.

 


               By Stephen Wrench Pres. www.fullentertain.com
               21 years management for Lynyrd Skynyrd

Other Columns by Stephen

The Next Big Thing

The Crap They Play on the Radio