How do you get a record deal and earn lots of money? I don’t know. But I do know there are a lot of misconceptions around what a record deal is and what it can do for you. At the heart of it, a record deal is a bit like a bank loan. Its just in this case the bank is a specialist in the music industry with contacts & procedures in all the right places.
Another way the record deal differs from a normal bank loan is the amount of control they have over what you spend the money they lend you on. Record deals quite often insist on you spending $10,000 just on new instruments. I worked with a band last week who were so stuck on what to spend the money on they bought matching white flight cases for everything! The contract may demand that you tour europe and take & pay a sound man, tour manager & use a particular tour bus & driver with you. Once they have insisted on you recording with a top quality producer in a huge studio there isn’t much left of that $500,000 you secured.
So suddenly your 500,000 in the red and you ain’t even sold a record yet. Im not sure about you but its not the sort of position I’d like to find myself in!
I heard of a local band near me getting an offer from a record company in London. The record company pays for them to come down to London, puts them up in a flat, pays for them to record their album & puts it out for them. No money changes hands, if the band does well the record company keeps 100% while but also pays all of their bills. If the album flops they just say their goodbyes and leave it at that. Sounds like a great deal to get started if you ask me.
My point, I guess, is that getting a record deal isn’t the be all and end all of the music industry. Touring & publishing deals are also important & enjoyable aspects of being in a band that you can aspire to. Check out the book The DIY Music Manual: How to Record, Promote and Distribute Your Music without a Record Deal and see what you and your band could do!