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 Post subject: Advice/tips/ staying on track
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:24 am 
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hey Leon or other Mithras fiends,
Was wondering what kind of helpful advice that you would give to upcoming musicians who wanna try and do what you and other Death and black metal bands do in the biz... things to look out for... what not to do. the best way to go about getting your music heard. Been talking to a lot of people involved in the scene most recently Mike Kimball the last dying fetus guitarist and I wanted to know your guy's take on the scene and the biz. Mike told told us to get familiar with a word called recoupable... mind sheding some insight doods? Thanks in advance

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 Post subject: Re: Advice/tips/ staying on track
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:36 am 
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Sorath wrote:
hey Leon or other Mithras fiends,
Was wondering what kind of helpful advice that you would give to upcoming musicians who wanna try and do what you and other Death and black metal bands do in the biz... things to look out for... what not to do. the best way to go about getting your music heard. Been talking to a lot of people involved in the scene most recently Mike Kimball the last dying fetus guitarist and I wanted to know your guy's take on the scene and the biz. Mike told told us to get familiar with a word called recoupable... mind sheding some insight doods? Thanks in advance


This is a very complex question, I'll give it a shot and type the first things that come into my head:

Firstly, bands coming up in the current musical climate are almost fucked before they begin, CD sales and returned revenue are at an historic low for bands :( This doesn't mean you should give up but you've got to do what works now to be successful, not necessarily what bands did in 1999 or 1990!

It'd probably help to have fixed ideas about what you want to achieve and where you want to go with a band to avoid treading water or worse, going backwards. If the entire band doesn't have a similar vision this can be a problem. In Mithras we almost always had a goal we were shooting towards to crystallize events in our favour, amongst many other tricks I employed!

Things to look out for / what not to do: People you think are on your wavelength but really aren't - these are normally bad news in the longrun and wasted a lot of time in my life I can't now get back - very uncool and can derail a band easily.

I'd also say don't ever do an extreme band expecting to make a single penny back; it'll take some heavy financial and time investment on the part of all band members if you want to make records up there with pro bands who use real drumkits (it's much, much easier to make music with a drum machine as it's very simple to record and almost anyone could mix it adequately). We broke even on the first two Mithras albums a few years ago, meaning we got back every single penny we ever spent making those records including rehearsing for them (yes, I'm anal enough to have actually worked that out). Rayner and I had 10 pints to celebrate. This is pretty unusual for a band who spent as much money as we did on gear, rehearsing, studio time, artwork....

The best way of getting your music heard in the here and now? Firstoff, make some music which is original, well played, with panache and feel, as no one wants to hear unoriginal bollocks and there's a million death metal acts out there, but this is easier said than done. Have as good a production as you can afford. Have something specific which sets you apart from other bands. (bands with original elements generally last much longer than uninspired generic ones).

Playing as big as possible shows as support to a band whose audience you think would dig your band can work in some circumstances. This could cost a lot of money so may or may not be viable for your band. Pimp your myspace page as much as possible, and try and keep your fanbase's attention once you have it. Putting tracks on a magazine covermount CD can work wonders too, it certainly did for us.

What Mike means regarding "recoupable"... let me explain via an example. Most record labels used to offer deals where the band would for arguments sake get say $1 per CD sold (or less), or a percentage of the dealer cost (the amount of money the CD sells to shops for, so say 20% of a $5 dealer price = $1 again.

So let's pretend you release an album through a label and eventually sell 5,000 CDS, which would be pretty damn sweet for an underground dm act who isn't world famous.... so $5,000 to the band? Err probably not. A lot of contracts between band and label state that any money the label spends on a release is recoupable from the bands share of the money, and what the label can or can't include is often limitless; the cost of recording (assuming the label lends you the money to make the record) advertising, staff costs, anything pr related, the tea the MD has in the morning, basically anything they decide to put down. ..
I'm typing this real fast and there's load of famous blogs online explaining this much better, but put it like this:

Band rehearses for 2 years to make their debut record, costing them $5000 in rehearsals, gear, strings etc then spends $7500 on recording in the studio of the label's choice to make the record. Label sells 5,000 cds and receives $25,000 ($5 per cd dealer price), bands share of that is $5,000. But the label lent the band $7500 to record and also spent $5000 marketing and on other recoupables (this is assuming they didn't take the piss to a really major level) So the band actually owes the label $7500, even though the label has taken $25,000 in.

This kind of thing varies from label to label, some labels are great and extremely fair, others are not.

Just to be clear, this has never happened to Mithras, we never signed a deal with any recoupables in it and always received a fixed amount per CD sold from both labels, who we had good financial relations with. I spent nearly 2 months negotiating our contract with Candlelight, so another bit of advice would be, if you aren't 100% certain you don't understand the contract, get a lawyer and get as much advice as you can from other musicians regarding the fairness of your deal.

With CD sales falling, I'm not convinced that signing to a label is always the best way to go for a band considering you can get your record on iTunes for about $30 if you do it right.

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