Band Blog


The life cycle of a band.

Stage one

Band forms with hopes of fame, riches and artistic integrity. Band members contrasting personalities seen as ‘a good thing’

Stage two

Band starts meteoric rise to success. Diferent agendas emerge. Although fractious due to long hours trapped in the back of a splitter bus the band are ‘united by their love of music’. They respect each other as people and musicians and are a ‘family’

Stage Three

Band are offered a record deal on the condition that they sack the drummer because ‘he doesn’t fit in’. Band immediately sack drummer citing ‘musical differences’

Stage four

Local press report ‘band signed in million pound record deal’. The reality being that the band have signed a five album deal, with the record company having an option to drop them after the first single if it doesn’t do well. The £1000000 advance is actually £150000 for the first record and the rest divided between the following four records if they don’t get dropped in the interim. The album costs £50000 to make. Out of the remaining £100000 the manager takes 20% leaving the four band members with £20000 each to last them for the lifecycle of the first record which will be approximately 2 years. Each member of the band is earning a magnificent £10000 per year!

Stage 5

The album is a huge success selling half a million copies which earns the record company about two million quid. The record company spent half a million on advertising, making a video and tour support. The band are owed five hundred grand in royalties (most bands make an average of a pound per record) but this goes back to pay back the record company (they also still owe the label £150000 from the initial advance).

Stage 6

Often at this stage the band are dropped, owing a fortune or the cycle begins again with a new record with the four hapless band members at the mercy of an A&R department’s whim for their future security. Just as a final amusing twist, even if the band pay back ALL the money they were advanced from the record label they still don’t get ownership of the recordings they’ve paid for.

The moral of this story is…..

Well without getting heavy about the whole thing, most musicians are unaware of how difficult it is to make a living in the music business when they first pick up a guitar and start dreaming. Unfortunately, over the last 5 years the public have become slowly convinced of the fact that music should be ‘free’. This has been exacerbated by the record companies giving away CDs free with newspapers and historically by overpricing CDs (as well as some CDs having one hit single and many dreary ‘fillers’). Whereas I doubt many of you reading this would sneak into a gig or steal a guitar from a musician, every time you torrent an album you are often making the difference between a band’s survival or demise. In the case of Radiohead giving away their album, it’s a ‘loss leader’ for the ensuing tour, which is now the only musical experience (except merchandise!), which can’t be had gratis. A band at Radiohead’s stage of career is in no danger of penury. It’s the bands such as Farrah and other bands in a similar position hat have the most to lose by the ‘freebie’ culture as they are on the periphery of the mainstream. Often these bands are self funded and do not have a major label behind them. In these cases especially you are stealing money directly from the band rather than a faceless evil corporation which can sustain this kind of loss.

New year resolution?

Go and see more gigs (buy a t shirt) and if you torrent a record and like it, buy it and tell all your friends to buy it as well!

Happy New Year