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Would you need 1.5-2 million dollars to make an album?

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#12076 by Danielstevens2002
Wed Sep 05, 2007 9:02 pm
Ever since the conseption of the Music as an industry and big buisness it has been thriving on money. Each and every business is that way which is fine. We all need that little green piece of paper in order to survive now a days. When does it become rediculous though?

Back in 2005 I was deployed to the northern part of Iraq with my unit. We recieved Rolling Stone every single month. I always stole it from the hang out room. One day while I was flipping through the pages I stumbled across an article on the band Linkin Park.

At the beginning it didn't seem like much but once I got about half way through there was something that dumbfounded me. Linkin Park had just got done with there second album Metero. They were planning on making a third album pretty close to the end of there last one.

Linkin Park was asking for around 1 to 2 million dollars to record there album. Now once you do the math as far as Studio cost and paying the artists and writers it comes nowhere near that much money. Warner Brothers entertainment told them that they were asking for to much. They also wanted full split 50/50 with the songwriting royalties as well as performing and artist.

Now when you first start out in the Music Industry it's common for you to only get 5% of the earnings. Once you get into your sophmore release you get around 6%-10% of the royalties. Once you do your third and you have a proven track record then they might bump you up to 15%or 20%. They also keep a number tracking system so if you get up to a certain number then they give you a little something something for being a good boy.

Warner brothers told them that they would give them 50% of the royalties but would not give them 1.5 to 2 Million dollars to record an album. Well Linkin Park got mad and said that if they didn't get what they wanted then they were going to leave Warner Brothers. I don't know about you guy's but just having the ability to make music for a career and get a steady paycheck is good enough for me. I dont' need millions to make a record nor do I need millions to maintain a lifestyle.

Another thing most people don't realise is that when you ask for money to record your album from the record lable. You have to pay that money back. They don't just give it to you. You have to pay them back and hope that you are able to plus make some profit at the same time. I did the calculations one time for a band that has just a gold record. If it was a 5 piece band each member would make around $24,000.00 a year...

My mother made more then that being a school teacher. Now this calculation doesn't envolve writers royalties only performing and artist. If you did get Writers or hell even Writers and Publishing royalties you would be making bank.

The dixie chicks also became money hungry. With there Freshman release they were doing pretty well. Then one day they did an interview on Sixty Minutes or something and the reporter asked them how they liked being Million-aires. The dixie Chicks said that they hadn't made there first million yet... Well no sh*t it's your freshman record you didn't think that you were going to become millionaires over night did you. Normally it takes a couple of records normally when you get up to your Senior or third record you start raking in the big dough cause the record lable knows you aren't a shitbag.

Well a few people had to leave warner or whatever lable cause the dixie chicks started attacking people saying that they weren't getting paid there just deserves. There lable tried to reason with them but all they wanted was that green.

Why can't people be more like Sheryl Crow Or Don Henley. The only thing they wanted out of the business was to get rid of the "Work For Hire" Lable that is put on all beginning artists. The reason being is that they dont' get full credit for the songs that they had written. The Lable gets to keep them and the Band or person who wrote the song basically gives up there rights to the material. They never bitched about how much they were being paid. They just wanted proper treatment for the individuals who loved there music and didn't want to just sign it all away.

This is just one of the many reasons why I always like the fact that I can do music on my terms every single day. It sucks I don't make a good living from it but in the end I still have my music. I still love what I do and I don't require millions to live my life. I just wish that the rest of the world was the same way. :shock:

#12081 by Irminsul
Thu Sep 06, 2007 1:07 am
Artists, of all levels, can get "funny about the green" because almost all of them remember what miserable existence it can be WITHOUT it. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people famous in the music biz right now will, probably in only a few years, see their fortunes evaporate. Most can see far enough ahead to this likelihood and are trying to buttress themselves for survival should the day come when there are no more knocks at the door for record or touring contracts, and the ol' bank acount is hovering in the double digits again.

While I am no advocate of the culture of greed, I can certainly see why this would be a concern...especially if one had worked into a lifestyle that simply does not allow for a sudden shut off of funds one dreary day. It's a tragedy if an artist only sees green when they do what they do, however, artists also have a right to make a living. And my wish is that they all can, without ending up, in old age, pushing a stolen grocery cart with their last belongings.
#12089 by Danielstevens2002
Thu Sep 06, 2007 4:09 am
I feel the same way. I am all for making money. Don't get me wrong about the post lol. I think it was Peter Frampton who said that when his glory days were over he owed money instead of having money. It was either him or Ted Nugent. I know Ted sold a crap load of his guitars just to make ends meet.

Some of those in the big leauges do have a good head on there shoulders but the rest... I remember in Nashville a stretched hummer came down main street one night. It had several hot girls hanging out the window and some guy with a wad of hundreds. He threw the wad out into the street. Needless to say there was a scramble lol. I got $200.00 out of it but I wondered later on that night. How long till he throws away his last bills.

It's a scary thought well for me at least. I couldn't imagine being so high up that the fall could kill me. That is why i'm glad i'm not in the big's right now lol. I would have offed myself already lol.

#20222 by MT Studios
Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:14 am
The reason artists want large advances is because it is rare to ever see a royalty check. Why? Record companies state artist has not recouped.
SO GET IT UP FRONT.

An average record deal is 12 points on first record, escalating up to 16 depending on performance of sales. Points = Percent. Producers take 3 points on average. Leaving artist with 9 points.

Thought I would point out the facts.
#20228 by Danielstevens2002
Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:05 am
I understand the point system but at the same time you have to pay back what you are fronted or am I wrong on that part? Why ask for 10 million when you know you can do it for much cheaper. Also if the Artists are smart they get royalties for being the Artist, Writer, Publisher if they are smart about it.

If nothing else smart enough to start publishing and then sell it right out for a lump sum to the label then just go back and create another publishing company. I have one with BMI I am about to close out and then i'm going to start another. Admitted I don't get the other royalties but at the same time I still come out on top no strings attached.

I find what you wrote intriguing so please tell me more. I am always up for some new input on the business since it changes almost every day lol. Thanks for the reply!
#20259 by MT Studios
Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:15 pm
Danielstevens2002 wrote:I understand the point system but at the same time you have to pay back what you are fronted or am I wrong on that part? Why ask for 10 million when you know you can do it for much cheaper. Also if the Artists are smart they get royalties for being the Artist, Writer, Publisher if they are smart about it.

If nothing else smart enough to start publishing and then sell it right out for a lump sum to the label then just go back and create another publishing company. I have one with BMI I am about to close out and then i'm going to start another. Admitted I don't get the other royalties but at the same time I still come out on top no strings attached.

I find what you wrote intriguing so please tell me more. I am always up for some new input on the business since it changes almost every day lol. Thanks for the reply!


That is what is called recoupment. Yes, you pay it back at your royalty rate. The idea is to get paid without ever having to sell one record. If you do sell records, well then you already got paid for them. Mechanical and performance publishing are monies outside royalties. You can get an advance there too. The Performance side is BMI ASCAP and so on. These companies pay you for TV, Film and Radio Play ect. Your publishing company, like Warner/Chappell Music, pays mechanicals for example. These are collected from sales of record. For example: The songwriter did not play on the record, he/she would only get paid for the songs he or she wrote on the record. The artist who wrote nothing on the record would get paid royalties at 13 points for sale. If the songwriter took an advance and sold his publishing at 50% (alternative, take an administrative deal 5% of collected, no advance) he would make a little over 3 cents for every song sold to the consumer. The publisher would make the same. If the advance was $500,000.00 from the publisher and the songwriter wrote 13 songs on the record. The songwriter would make 30 some odd cents a record sold. You can only get paid for 10 songs. The record would need to sell 1.6 million copies before the songwriter would make any money, unless of course he/she had many records floating around. If the record company gave a million dollar advance to the artist who wrote no songs. The artist would start making money after advance was paid back. So if wholesale on the record is $10 and the record sold 1 million copies, that is 10 million dollars. At a 12-point deal minus producer that could be a million in royalties, but the artists owes a million dollars. So he won't be getting a royalty check because he already got it. So why take the money before hand? Because record companies will say you owe for this and that at inflated prices, and to audit them is min $40,000.00. So just take the money now. If you can sell 50,000 records on your own without a label, then you are more valuable for advances and a higher royalty rates to start off with.
The nice thing about these advances is you never have to pay it back if you are dropped from the label. Which you will be if you are not making them money. One problem with all these labels is the royalty rate is low, averaging probably 16 points.

I think the confusion that floats around on the internet comes from the idea to spend less is to make more. This is correct. Take that million dollar advance, do your record for $80,000 (This is including Producer Advance), live on the modest side and you got yourself a nice little nest egg, and did have to sell one record for it. Although, hopefully you do, because those advances are gonna get bigger if you are making them money.
#154223 by RockStar Player
Thu Sep 22, 2011 7:08 am
So its best to get paid as much as possible with advancements than negotiating a better % or higher points....

How many CD would a DYI artist need to sell to negotiate a good contract with a label?

#154226 by t-Roy and The Smoking Section
Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:51 am
if an indie can show 30,000 in sales, a label will come find them.



The problem with "recoupment" is the label is the one keeping the books. If they are dishonest (or should I say "Because they are") you might never see a stinkin' red cent. Do I sound bitter?

But the industry started dying about a decade ago and it is EXTREMELY rare to find a label making any kind of large advancement. Heck, most of the labels still in existance today prefer repackaging albums already produced and selling from indie bands first. OR, they want to create a band/project that they can control. They come up with a concept, find very young talent who they think will give them 10 years or more (and are willing to travel non-stop), and then push all the marketing/distribution buttons.

But don't be hating because they wanted $1,000,000 for an album. It easily takes a million dollars to break an album these days because of the saturation of bands/music. Just recording a great album will do almost no good without a marketing campaign that greases palms in radio and has full page ads in the trade magazines, and a high-powered publicist.

Even with all that, the average life of a hit song is only 3-6 months and it takes a year before you see the royalties, so you could be in deep debt for touring long before you see the first check.[/code]

#171633 by Dregonfly
Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:14 pm
What I am getting from this discussion is:
Bands borrow large sums of money to record, then don't get paid due to a dirty industry.... ? ...

Is it possible to record a CD with a friend/family member and print your own, manage a tour on your own and get known?
WHY in the world are people asking for so much money?!

#171639 by sanshouheil
Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:40 pm
Dregonfly wrote:What I am getting from this discussion is:
1 Bands borrow large sums of money to record, then don't get paid due to a dirty industry.... ? ...

2 Is it possible to record a CD with a friend/family member and print your own, manage a tour on your own and get known?
3 WHY in the world are people asking for so much money?!


The answers are simple:

1 Yes
2 Yes, but the individual with the talent, drive, and connections are rare .
And the system is designed to prevent you from doing exactly that.

3 Greed ...

#171731 by GuitarMikeB
Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:11 pm
2) How 'known' do you want to be? Yes, you can do all that yourself, but the only you are going to get big time is if someone puts you in the spotlight (opening for a national tour, for example).

I was surprised to learn yesterday that some of the better coffeehouse circuit players in the northeast are making $1000-$2500 a night - but that means they've got to play 2-4 gigs a month to make what I earn in my sh*t 40-hour/week day job. There are just NOT that many coffeehouses left that can afford to pay these $$. In 20 years these coffeehouse performers are going to be near or older than my current age, have no insurance, or guaranteed income the next week or next month.
Moral: don't do it for the money!
Last edited by GuitarMikeB on Tue May 01, 2012 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

#171775 by Starfish Scott
Tue May 01, 2012 12:02 am
YOD, (SMACK) No reviving threads dead for over 2 years.. lol

#171816 by GuitarMikeB
Tue May 01, 2012 12:45 pm
Chief Engineer Scott wrote:YOD, (SMACK) No reviving threads dead for over 2 years.. lol


Dregonfly revived it this time, but you got to let the cute ones get away with that stuff!

#171830 by Starfish Scott
Tue May 01, 2012 1:33 pm
GuitarMikeB wrote:
Chief Engineer Scott wrote:YOD, (SMACK) No reviving threads dead for over 2 years.. lol


Dregonfly revived it this time, but you got to let the cute ones get away with that stuff!


Sorry Yod, my mistake..

Dragonfly? wth miss?

Read the date/time stamps.. lol

#172300 by Dregonfly
Sun May 06, 2012 6:25 pm
They may be old for YOU, but I just read it! :D
Instead of making a new thread, which would just take up more space, as well as leave the basis for my question without reference, I commented.

When my band regroups this winter, we want to play more and travel more. I am determined to fund our trip by playing. I figure make a point A to B to C, etc, plan. Then, call to see which gigs we can fit in between, busk, hand out demo CDs, sell full CDs..... I'm saving for a van to haul us all around in. AAA is the BEST x-mas gift I ever get!

Any tips for the future trip would be appreciated!
I figure, camping, walmart parking lots, camping stove, visit friends' houses to get the much needed showers in. (A friend mentioned Travelers' Insurance?)

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