The industry surrounding the industry
About 2 years ago, Chris and I were ready to quit music completely. There were a number of reasons why — one of which was the industry surrounding the industry.
After we released our CD Perspectives in late 2006, we did all the promotional things just about every band does to get their music heard. For two years, we pushed and pushed, investing just about everything we had into it. I can’t tell you how many times in the process I was contacted by someone “inside” the industry who wanted to help us out… for just a few hundred dollars here or a few thousand dollars there. How generous of them.
While we admittedly had a great time doing a lot of the things we did, after a couple of years running to and fro and throwing money here and there to this company and that company, we came to a stark realization: they’d gotten us nowhere. It was a complete waste. That’s when we became very aware that there is an industry surrounding the music industry that preys on the hopes and dreams of up-and-coming artists. They sell you this key they claim will unlock the door to the music industry. You’ll finally be inside, they taunt!!! After all, what’s a few hundred or few thousand dollars when you’ll be famous and making millions? It’s such a tiny investment. Then, after you buy their key and go to try it out, you come to find it doesn’t open anything, except maybe a closet. And they’re gone. They’re run off with your money. If you manage to catch up with them and say, “Hey, this key doesn’t work,” they’ll blame you for not using it correctly.
After we realized how the industry surrounding the industry had been leaching off of us and so many other hopeful bands, we were so disgusted by what we’d seen, we didn’t want anything more to do with it. I compare it to the moment Dorothy discovered the man behind the curtain in “The Wizard of Oz.” The experience made me hate music. For a while, I didn’t even want to have anything to do with my own music. In my eyes, I’d been a fool for it, and by not playing music, I was refusing to be a pawn in their game anymore.
This was the inspiration behind the song, “Sweet Amorilia,” which will be on our forthcoming album, If These Stones Could Speak.
Then one day, I realized it wasn’t music I despised. It was the industry that I despised — the entertainment industry in general, not music! I love music! I love to write! I love to record! And I love to perform from time to time. How dare they come between me and my love for music! I thought.
Since then, we’ve decided we want nothing to do with the industry surrounding the industry, or even the entertainment industry itself. There’s nothing about it that makes us happy. It’s egotistical and pretty much everything we have no interest in being a part of or serving. We just want to make music that we love — that makes us feel good. If people dig it, that’s awesome. If they don’t, then at least we can walk away from this album feeling really… what’s the word… not “proud.” Pride has nothing to do with it. It’s more like we feel good having honored the creativity that flowed within us. We feel as though we honored that which was true within ourselves. And there’s nothing more rewarding than that feeling.
Just the other day, I signed us up on Sonicbids so we could submit a track for a local compilation. (I wouldn’t have signed up on sonicbids at all had their been another way to submit a track.) I kid you not, the next morning I got an email (I get these all the time) from one of those leach companies claiming to be an A&R company. They were asking me if my band would like to showcase in Nashville for some major labels. Allegedly, these labels are looking for their next big star and they need to get a band signed by the end of the year.
I did some digging on this company’s website and found out that they charge you $199 to showcase. Wow! Really??? I bet they offer to help all kinds of bands at that price! I was actually quite enraged by this because I want these leaches to stay the F*%& away from me and my band. I will not allow them to leach off of our Soufté! And what was even more enraging was I couldn’t find this information anywhere on their website, until I went to the page where you sign your band up. And even there, it was not in plain sight. You know those buttons you select that say “I have read and agree to the rules and regulations” — those “rules and regulations” you usually never read because it’s usually a bunch of legal jargon? Well, that’s where I found their fee… buried in a pile of legal jargon. It wasn’t anywhere else on their site.
Real A&R companies don’t charge bands for their services. They make their money from record labels, who pay the A&R company a finders fee upon signing a band. Any company claiming to be an A&R company that wants to charge bands for what they do isn’t a real A&R company. They are companies whose business model is to make money off the hopes and dreams of all these up-and-coming bands who naively and innocently believe they’ve finally gotten their big break. What motivation do such companies have to do anything for the bands they represent beyond giving them the opportunity to showcase? They’ve made their money. That was their goal. Once you’ve paid up, they’re done with you. They’re gone!
So, I wrote them back and let them know in all honesty and sincerity what I thought of their opportunity. Let’s just say they haven’t bothered to get back in touch with me.
I shared my feelings with the rest of the band about this during our recording session last night, and we all pretty much came to the same conclusion… Let’s just let the Universe guide our steps. It’s done well for us so far.
It really has.
Last night we laid down backing vocals on a track called “Monster.” We have only one more song left to record for the album. Then we’re going to embellish upon a couple of the ones we’ve already recorded, and wallah! We’ll soon have a CD. I can’t wait!