A Record Label Offered Us How Much????

Comments: 13

For legal reasons I can’t name the A&R rep or the label he worked for (labels can draft up one hell of a non-disclosure agreement), but let’s just say there was a time – years ago when all we had was a demo of our first album “The Unheard Warning” – when I was emailing with a guy from one of the biggest record labels in metal. And he was offering us a deal for an amount of money that would have been utterly life-changing for all of us.

But with a record label, things aren’t always as simple as they appear.

Not even a minute passed after finally Skyping face-to-face before he started telling us to change our sound. He started out subtle, asking little questions like “How do you feel about working with a producer? Would you be open to accepting creative feedback on some of your songs?” Then a bit more obvious: “Personally I loved the track For the Blind. I just wish there was maybe a little less orchestra. I also think Limits of Myself would be quite a bit better with less cleans, more growls.”

Then, by the end of it, he straight-up said something like, “I’ll level with you, man. Look, symphonic metal is dying. It’s just not a genre that makes money anymore, and we’d have to be stupid to invest our money into another band like that. You guys kick ass though. Your riffs are sick, definitely some of the best guitar work I’ve heard. Your singer’s hot as hell, and her growls are straight-up brutal. So here’s the thing: You guys shift things around just a little bit, go with more of an Arch Enemy sound and ditch the Nightwish – we’ll give you a phenomenal deal.”

I wish I could say I turned right back around and told him to shove his “phenomenal deal” up his ass. I wish I could say my artistic integrity was so strong, I didn’t even have to consider it.

The truth is I was torn. Like, it sounded good. Damn good.

We would have shared a label with at least one of our biggest influences. We would, he claimed, have blown up and been the next big name in metal. I’d gotten so much flack from my parents for being “naive” and “unrealistic” about the band, the idea of being signed to one of the biggest labels in my genre sounded like something I could really rub in their faces – that’s not petty at all, right?

But ultimately none of us could go through with it. We love our sound just the way it is! We’re writing the music that we would want to hear, as listeners. Watering that down in any way is unacceptable.

That uncompromising attitude is what drove our songwriting on the final version of The Unheard Warning, and all our subsequent music.

But that’s the best part, right? Something we wrote 100% for ourselves became something other people are LOVING! You guys really blew us away with how you’ve received our music. It never even crossed our minds that we were making an album people would refer to as “some of the most passionate and powerful symphonic metal in years.”

By being true to the sound in our hearts, we’ve found our tribe. The community of wonderful people like you that’s developing around this music is the single most fulfilling thing we could have ever imagined.

And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. Personally reaching out and connecting, one listener at a time, is so much more meaningful than spammy mass promotion by some label guy with no personal investment in our music. It’s FUN to build our careers like this! We get to directly share our music and our story. We get to write blog posts like this one, and share them with people like you! Thank you again for being here on this journey.

And of course, no matter what, please leave a comment below! Let us know that you’re here, what you think of this community, and what you’d like to hear about next!

 

 

13 Comments

  • Ross Newman says:

    And why the hell SHOULD you change your sound?? You guys are awesome as you are. 🙂 \m/

  • Stephen says:

    Why approach a band about how great they are if you only want to change it? I will never understand the logic in the industry and these A&R people. Take a chance on what you hear and give the unique sound a chance. The majority of what I listen to right now is bands doing what they want… I can’t stand that mainstream sound that comes out of the A&R approach.

  • Will says:

    A record label is NEVER really out for the band or the music… They’re out for the $$$. Redefine you if they have to to make you more like their lead money maker (cookie-cutter approach.) Too different and they wouldn’t have even offered you what they did or even offered the meeting. They’ll front you the money for studio time with professionals, but they’ll nickle and dime it to non-existence along with the costs of the engineers, time, producers, etc. You won’t even own your music anymore. The label will… and you’ll just have full rights to play your own stuff + “royalties” that are just a small fraction of what they bring in. When sales go down, they’ll blame it on everything else but themselves, regardless of how they botched it, if they did… Pirates will probably get the biggest blame, outside of their already stated “genre death.”

    Distribute it yourself, as you are now… The Internet has made that easier, and they don’t like it… so just be cautious of the copyright trolls that might show up if it’s too similar to something they bought at the expense of another band for “fame” and, as Rush has eloquently described it in Limelight… a gilded cage.

  • Great stuff Kevin! I love reading this kind of content, and love the fact that you’re willing to tell the tale. Much Kudos on the self released albums, a feat within itself! I think this day and time in the music biz, you don’t have to worry about the backing of a label as much as you do getting your material heard and purchased. Keep blogging about your story please. I’m someone on the brink of starting a similar journey, so it helps me in seeing how people such as yourself and band are able to earn a living through your music. I’m waiting to close (literally) on my biggest step toward embarking on that journey, more on that later. Keep up what you’re doing and stay inspired. I’m sure I’m not the only one finding inspiration and valuable knowledge in your own journey. Much Thanks! Robert

  • Toby says:

    personally I would stay unsigned do to the fact you don’t have the freedom to do what you want,when and how.I commend what you do by giving music away now I know you need to make a living I get it:) of all the time I have been a DJ on a Metal Radio station the only record label I would ever recommend is Pure Steel records and that is because I have talked to the bands about their labels and Pure Steel seems to be the Fan based favorite they treat the bands with total respect from what I have gathered:)

  • james says:

    After reading Duff Mckagans book Its so easy and other lies, A cracking read I may add, He found out all of the addresses of all the accountants dealing with GNR`S Finances and let them know that he new where they lived, when he got his degree in accountancy he looked through the books turned out that they didn’t rip him off but there are so many sharks in the music business Just keep control of your finances and keep producing great music and just like the pied piper the fans will follow Good luck guys and hope to see you in the UK soon.

    • Kevin Goetz says:

      Yeah, we’re so glad we didn’t make this mistake. It seriously would have been a complete disaster. We’re so much happier as indies – and honestly, I suspect social media makes it easier to promote ourselves than a label ever could have done.

  • Michael Labor says:

    Glad you dodged that bullet. Stay Indie and stay true to your music.

  • Terry Augar says:

    Wow !! thanks for sharing this story Kev! There are more scum deals in music than honest ones for sure. a friend of mine Nick Saloman AKA The Bevis Frond had the same thing happen to him, when he started out in the early 80s. He sent demos to all the majors & top DJs. None were very interested to air his music. but, tragedy was around the corner. Nick worked as a researcher for the town surveyors office. One cold frosty morning he was on his way to work when his motorbike sunk into a dodgy eroded manhole cover, he sustained life changing injuries to his elbow & heel. Miraculous as it seems, He could still play guitar with limited movement to his elbow. He was awarded substantial money for Council negligence.With that money he bought a home studio, and released limited copies of his first album called Miasma, he played guitar drums bass keyboards all himself , just to see the reaction, posted the vinyl to local record shops for starters…They sold out the same day with demands for more copies..They sold 40 thousand copies. Obviously when touring He has a full band, consisting of ex-Hawkwind Bassist Ade Shaw and a few other ex band members….23 albums later……2018 is album 24 next week release………….so the moral is…if you want something done properly , then do it independent of the scum!!!!

    • Kevin Goetz says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read this! It means a lot =) That’s a really amazing story you shared – I’m glad your friend was able to overcome that injury.

  • Ian Hall says:

    There are very good reasons why “the music biz” is hated by so many and I’m glad you didn’t get burned. Yay, Indie all the way!

  • Steven W says:

    Good for you! Im glad in this age its almost common knowledge that record labels are just in it for themselves. They want money yet cant play an instrument to save their lives nor have the spirit and soul to write anything meaningful.
    Hopefully these scum fade into the annals of history.

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