Recording - November 2009 - 47

Continued from page 45 Tony, with the major labels just getting decimated by illegal downloading; how many less artists are getting signed by percentage? How much has the major label Rock side of the industry shrunk because of illegal downloading? Tony: Well, definitely all the major labels are signing less now because—a little bit of mirroring of what Sherrill is saying—it costs so much more money and takes so much longer time to break artists. The setup for the record [release date, marketing plan, touring, TV appearances] is very important, and the old-fashioned adage of what major labels had, which followed the Atlantic/WEA doctrine, which was if you sign enough acts, you throw them up against the wall, and the one that sticks is the one you all go for. We’ve done this analogy before. It’s like a kids’ soccer team—wherever the ball is, the kids go. It’s very hard for the major labels now to make the next transition into this brave new world, the new paradigm that we have with music now, which I wish someone could explain to me, because I don’t really know myself. So we’re signing probably around, I’d say, 35% to 45% less a year. Wow. I remember not that long ago—maybe seven or eight years ago—where the majors would have maybe 150 artists or more on their rosters. Tony: Oh yeah. And that would probably not be the major label groups. That would be just the independent labels. For instance, with Geffen and A&M—which we have—when we took them over, they probably had around about 176 or 180 artists on each label. So, when you combine the three labels—Interscope, Geffen and A&M—you’re up to 500 to 600 artists. But that was when we did the conglomerate amalgamation. Now over the years, that’s been slowly chopped away, and with this new economy coming in, it’s even worse for the major labels. See, the biggest mistake that happened— and it’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback—but when the conglomerates came in and saw the amount of money that was being made during the ’80s and the early ’90s, with CDs being transferred from vinyl to tape, then into CDs, they saw the amount of money the industry was making because everybody had their record collections and updated them to the new mode of CDs, which were supposed to be unbreakable. You could scratch them, you could use them as Frisbees, they would always play—and we know that was a crock of shit, right? [laughter] Wall Street saw the amount of money, the cash flow—because it is a big cash flow business, the music business—and they said, “We want some of that,” and they bought into that. Now, once people got their record collections, and at the same time you had Napster and the MP3 coming in, the industry tanked right into the ground, and that’s what you’re living with now. So I blame the labels for… Well, you can’t blame them. I mean, David Geffen, Jerry Moss, they made millions of dollars. When you’re offered $600 million for your label back in the 1980s, I mean, what are you gonna do? Say no? So the best time now is to be independent. The independent labels are the best labels. How can the independents… how can anybody break through anymore? Because the minute that an artist is gonna hit the public’s radar, everybody is just going to go steal it. It’s unfair to songwriters, it’s unfair to artists. And nobody feels sorry for the labels, because they think that you guys are all a bunch of overpaid jerks that are trying to keep them out of the industry. Or, from the consumer perspective, you’re a bunch of overpaid jerks; the artists are overpaid jerks flying around in private jets. Nobody feels sorry. It’s like, “OK, I’m going to download the song,” and then Madonna will make $1.50 less on one album than she made before. I don’t see how it’s possible for the major label system to stay alive, yet I don’t see anything else really replacing it. Tony: Well, that’s the problem. I would venture to guess—it’s kind of a blanket statement—but I would say that every major label around the world, no label is making any money selling CDs. Nothing. In fact, digital downloads are now outstripping and outselling CDs—legal downloads—in most cases, at the top end. It’s all about branding and marketing now. You brand your artist with Mountain Dew, with a carpet salesman, with some cinema down the street, with a new movie you try and get songs in. It’s a lateral movement that going on. It’s not a movement that’s moving forward, it’s kind of inching forward. That’s why everyone’s waiting for this magic pill that will solve everything. It’s just not going to happen. It’s tough for the major labels. And I’d venture to guess that the major labels in present form—which has changed since their last form about five years ago—will probably not exist. And with everything that we do, we look at independent production companies, independent labels, independent writers. We look at everything now, which makes it doubly hard… And going back to your original question: how come we’re not signing as much? It’s because we look at everything. We were talking earlier on that there is so much out there, more than ever before, with the Internet. It’s like standing on a shoreline looking at a sea of artists and songwriters and music and bands, and who knows what else, and trying to pick the one you think could be worth the millions of dollars it’s going to take to try and break them. It’s a long process. In a few minutes I want to come back to you and talk about the investments that a label makes in an artist, because that gives perspective to the audience so they can understand what you guys are risking every time you do. Brian, you’ve been exactly who our members are. What did you believe back in the day—five, six, seven years ago when you could have been in the audience—what did you believe back then, that you know better than now? Is there anything you could pass along to these guys to shorten their time span? Brian: For me, I had no other option. It was either be in the music industry or busk by the shore in Australia, smoking weed or something. Yeah, I wasn’t gonna give up. I was gonna do whatever it took to get my foot in the door. And I knew once I had my foot in the door, I would keep going. And that’s the thing—all it takes is one little crack in the door. When I first started out, I played in two bands that were signed. My first band was a good experience because it introduced me to the music industry and the ins and outs. It’s such an important thing, relationships, especially when you make them in the beginning, and then you grow with the industry people as they grow. It was really helpful to me. Just never giving up, never be satisfied with a song or my production or something like that—just digging, digging and never stopping, and never taking no for an answer. How did you deal with rejection early on when you would bring a song to your band or bring a song with the band to a label? You are such a positive, upbeat guy. How do you deal with rejection? Brian: Well, of course you get the defensive posture. At first you start swearing, “What do they know?” Then I kind of settle back and go, “Well, maybe they’re right.” You just take it with a grain of salt. You listen to all the opinions, then you evaluate them, and then you throw in yours. I always listened to what everybody had to say, not necessarily believing that was the gospel truth or whatever. But, you know, there’s always a little bit of truth, or whatever. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. My rule is if two or three people that I trust are saying it, it’s probably true. Like that chorus probably isn’t hooky enough, even though I think it is. And the biggest thing for bands and writers too is testing yourself with people who love you, because they’re gonna lie. They are not going to tell you the truth, and you need people that are going to give you the truth on things. That’s the #1 thing: don’t believe the hype. Get people that are gonna be independently unbiased, so you get the truth, and you’ll get better that way. Darius, is it possible for an urban artist to get signed without being a producer? Everybody seems to be a producer, or they’re partnered with a producer. Is it possible for a just straight-up artist who is talented, attractive and has that star quality, or do you have to be hooked up with a producer? Darius: I think if you’re talking about R&B music it’s possible, because when I signed J. Holiday he wasn’t attached to a producer. But, for Hip-Hop, I would definitely say you have to be either attached to a producer or already have some type of movement going on. Continued on page 49

Recording - November 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - November 2009

Recording - November 2009
Fade In
Fast Forward
Les Paul Speaks
Cakewalk SONAR V-Studio 700
The Hybrid Guitar Recording Method—A Modern Way of Tracking Serious Tones, Part 1
Radial JDX and Phazer
Shure SM27 and SM137 Microphones
Eventide PitchFactor
Recording’s Guitar Column
Lexicon I•ONIX U42S RecordingInterface
Recording’s Showcase of Sounds
Readers’ Tapes
Vibesware GR-1 Guitar Resonator
BOSS ME-70 Guitar Multiple Effects
Line 6 BackTrack and BackTrack + Mic
Advertiser Index
Fade Out
Recording - November 2009 - Recording - November 2009
Recording - November 2009 - Cover2
Recording - November 2009 - 1
Recording - November 2009 - Fade In
Recording - November 2009 - 3
Recording - November 2009 - Contents
Recording - November 2009 - 5
Recording - November 2009 - Talkback
Recording - November 2009 - 7
Recording - November 2009 - Fast Forward
Recording - November 2009 - 9
Recording - November 2009 - 10
Recording - November 2009 - 11
Recording - November 2009 - Les Paul Speaks
Recording - November 2009 - 13
Recording - November 2009 - 14
Recording - November 2009 - 15
Recording - November 2009 - Cakewalk SONAR V-Studio 700
Recording - November 2009 - 17
Recording - November 2009 - 18
Recording - November 2009 - 19
Recording - November 2009 - 20
Recording - November 2009 - 21
Recording - November 2009 - 22
Recording - November 2009 - 23
Recording - November 2009 - The Hybrid Guitar Recording Method—A Modern Way of Tracking Serious Tones, Part 1
Recording - November 2009 - 25
Recording - November 2009 - 26
Recording - November 2009 - 27
Recording - November 2009 - 28
Recording - November 2009 - 29
Recording - November 2009 - 30
Recording - November 2009 - 31
Recording - November 2009 - Radial JDX and Phazer
Recording - November 2009 - 33
Recording - November 2009 - Shure SM27 and SM137 Microphones
Recording - November 2009 - 35
Recording - November 2009 - Eventide PitchFactor
Recording - November 2009 - 37
Recording - November 2009 - Recording’s Guitar Column
Recording - November 2009 - 39
Recording - November 2009 - Lexicon I•ONIX U42S RecordingInterface
Recording - November 2009 - 41
Recording - November 2009 - Recording’s Showcase of Sounds
Recording - November 2009 - 43
Recording - November 2009 - 44
Recording - November 2009 - 45
Recording - November 2009 - 46
Recording - November 2009 - 47
Recording - November 2009 - 48
Recording - November 2009 - 49
Recording - November 2009 - Readers’ Tapes
Recording - November 2009 - 51
Recording - November 2009 - Vibesware GR-1 Guitar Resonator
Recording - November 2009 - 53
Recording - November 2009 - BOSS ME-70 Guitar Multiple Effects
Recording - November 2009 - 55
Recording - November 2009 - Line 6 BackTrack and BackTrack + Mic
Recording - November 2009 - Advertiser Index
Recording - November 2009 - 58
Recording - November 2009 - 59
Recording - November 2009 - 60
Recording - November 2009 - 61
Recording - November 2009 - 62
Recording - November 2009 - 63
Recording - November 2009 - Fade Out
Recording - November 2009 - Cover3
Recording - November 2009 - Cover4