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How do (metal) labels work?
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Naekrospavvn



Joined: 17 Sep 2012
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Location: X3

PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:18 pm    Post subject: How do (metal) labels work? Reply with quote

So I am curious about how all the underground metal labels work. I remember once Ive read an interview with Euronymous where he was asked how does Deathlike Silence Production deal with the bands and his answer was that they pay all the studio expenses and later they split half of the money they get off the sales with the band.
Meanwhile I also have heard about some labels (less underground than DSP) not only not paying studio expenses but also requiring bands to pay for pressing copies, so basically the only service which those labels actually provide was distribution.
I believe that underground labels like NWN, IBP or Dark Descends provide pressing CDs/tapes/vinyl at their own expenses and probably giving some amount of them to the band as a royalties but its up to a band to pay for the studio. Am I right? And who pays to an artist for cover art?
Meanwhile, as far as I know bigger labels like Earache, Century media, Nuclear Blast usually have full control over process of making album including choosing a studio where the album should be done, cover art etc.
What about labels like Southern Lord, Rise Above etc, which are hardly underground, but you cannot compare them with Century Media and the likes?
I hope this kind of discussions are allowed on this board Razz
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Evilman



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite interested too !
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MezzoForte



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

relevant to my interests. I always wanted to release some stuff but I never knew what the right number was as far as making a percentage offer.
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Blort



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it depends on the label and the band.

I know of tiny labels that usually pay no studio costs and compensate bands with 20 percent of the copies pressed who will spend a few thousand for a "bigger name " band.

And some small labels will give you the option of a small royalty check instead of copies if your band doesn't tour much.

Speaking of touring, I've heard some bigger labels won't sign a band if they don't tour.
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Vega360



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Case by case basis with proper communication for all parties.
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holy ghost



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a pretty standard breakdown for bigger indie labels/majors. I would say take 10 minutes and read this excellent breakdown by Steve Albini. If you haven't read it, it's the best/most depressing thing you'll read all day. I have friends/family who make/try to make a living through playing music and a lot of this stuff is not the stuff of fairy tales.

http://www.ram.org/ramblings/philosophy/fmp/albini.html

I would also read the "cautionary tale" about excellent band Zombi getting into debt with their own record label:

https://noisey.vice.com/en_us/article/zombi-interview-2015

That being said, being a longtime poster on the board I can recall numerous times where YK has said that he's paid for bands studio time and what have you and I don't believe he is to be lumped in with the above articles.

EDIT: Not just NWN, I believe there are a lot of UG labels that operate with class, but once you hit a certain size, well.....


Last edited by holy ghost on Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Alchemical Plagues



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A typical arrangement with smaller labels is 15% of the copies produced. More established ones may chip in on artwork and mastering.
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Nihilist



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my past days of experience with a few underground labels it's been different with a lot of the bands.
I was in a band we got signed and get a $1,500 budget for the first recording, and $3,000 for the second release. Depending upon sales though! The budget included the cover artist as well.
I was in another band at that time,and the label owner wanted both bands, but would divide the contract betwixt both bands. We agreed, but he wanted to release our demo. Our guitarist got cocky and asked for money to record a proper debut, label guy refused that, got a richer person to fund his label, then signed another band with the same name, but switched around. That was a lame experience. And fucking destroyed my faith in friends\labels.
Had a time where we paid the studio,recorded, and then got the money from the label.
Usually we would choose our own studio,engineer,cover artist,layout. Sometimes the label will do layout, or at least add things in the layout.
Of Corpse you get free copies of your releases fortunately. Only ever got a check once for a band, and that was from Moribund!
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AK



Joined: 06 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've worked with several labels (Night Birds Rec, Virus Prod, Werewolf Prom, Wolfspell Rex) and in each case the agreement has been that the label will cover the cost of printing the material, while I took care of all expenses related to recording and layouts. The labels would then send around 10% of the copies they print to me which I am free to sell and they sell the rest. Personally I like this system, it's simple enough and hopefully everyone gets to make a little bit of money on top of covering their expenses. I'm also lucky enough that I'm not dependent on selling albums to make a living, so another big thing that labels do is provide exposure and distribution. Then again, I'm speaking for a band that releases albums / demos in quantities of 150-500 per release and not the bigger / more popular bands and how they operate and interact with labels.

On a bit of side note, I can say nothing but good things about the labels I have worked with, it's always been a very low stress and enjoyable process releasing material.
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Instinct



Joined: 26 Jun 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AK wrote:
I've worked with several labels (Night Birds Rec, Virus Prod, Werewolf Prom, Wolfspell Rex) and in each case the agreement has been that the label will cover the cost of printing the material, while I took care of all expenses related to recording and layouts. The labels would then send around 10% of the copies they print to me which I am free to sell and they sell the rest. Personally I like this system, it's simple enough and hopefully everyone gets to make a little bit of money on top of covering their expenses. I'm also lucky enough that I'm not dependent on selling albums to make a living, so another big thing that labels do is provide exposure and distribution. Then again, I'm speaking for a band that releases albums / demos in quantities of 150-500 per release and not the bigger / more popular bands and how they operate and interact with labels.

On a bit of side note, I can say nothing but good things about the labels I have worked with, it's always been a very low stress and enjoyable process releasing material.


This is the same 'deal' I have with all previous and current labels I work with and I like it a lot. I can't imagine a label dictating the sound, image or thematic direction of my work, nor would I want to ever be in such a position.
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Crasse



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AK wrote:
I've worked with several labels and in each case the agreement has been that the label will cover the cost of printing the material, while I took care of all expenses related to recording and layouts. The labels would then send around 10% of the copies they print to me which I am free to sell and they sell the rest. Personally I like this system, it's simple enough and hopefully everyone gets to make a little bit of money on top of covering their expenses. I'm also lucky enough that I'm not dependent on selling albums to make a living, so another big thing that labels do is provide exposure and distribution. Then again, I'm speaking for a band that releases albums / demos in quantities of 150-500 per release and not the bigger / more popular bands and how they operate and interact with labels.

On a bit of side note, I can say nothing but good things about the labels I have worked with, it's always been a very low stress and enjoyable process releasing material.

Same here. I received 20% of the copies not 10% though. Not because I demanded it but because the label said that number and I didnt know if it was normal or not so I accepted. I dont pay for studios or artworks so i dont really care if i make money or not since i spend 0.
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AK



Joined: 06 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crasse wrote:
AK wrote:
I've worked with several labels and in each case the agreement has been that the label will cover the cost of printing the material, while I took care of all expenses related to recording and layouts. The labels would then send around 10% of the copies they print to me which I am free to sell and they sell the rest. Personally I like this system, it's simple enough and hopefully everyone gets to make a little bit of money on top of covering their expenses. I'm also lucky enough that I'm not dependent on selling albums to make a living, so another big thing that labels do is provide exposure and distribution. Then again, I'm speaking for a band that releases albums / demos in quantities of 150-500 per release and not the bigger / more popular bands and how they operate and interact with labels.

On a bit of side note, I can say nothing but good things about the labels I have worked with, it's always been a very low stress and enjoyable process releasing material.

Same here. I received 20% of the copies not 10% though. Not because I demanded it but because the label said that number and I didnt know if it was normal or not so I accepted. I dont pay for studios or artworks so i dont really care if i make money or not since i spend 0.


Sure, it varies from release to release, but as you said in my experience the label will indicate how many copies the band gets, and I've never seen a reason to argue about the numbers as they're usually quite reasonable.

One other aspect is that for tape releases sometimes labels will send you a more significant portion of the pro printed covers and you have to cover dubbing the tapes, or they'll send you some proportion of tapes and then additional covers that you need to dub the copies for. The details always vary but the general concept is pretty consistent in my experience.
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Valgrinder



Joined: 27 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AK wrote:

One other aspect is that for tape releases sometimes labels will send you a more significant portion of the pro printed covers and you have to cover dubbing the tapes, or they'll send you some proportion of tapes and then additional covers that you need to dub the copies for. The details always vary but the general concept is pretty consistent in my experience.


Gotta confess that its something that I havent fully understood yet. So what thatkind tapelabel actually releases, mostly covers?
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invinCIBility



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Valgrinder wrote:
AK wrote:

One other aspect is that for tape releases sometimes labels will send you a more significant portion of the pro printed covers and you have to cover dubbing the tapes, or they'll send you some proportion of tapes and then additional covers that you need to dub the copies for. The details always vary but the general concept is pretty consistent in my experience.


Gotta confess that its something that I havent fully understood yet. So what thatkind tapelabel actually releases, mostly covers?


Werewolf Promotion and Night Birds are prime examples of that martyrdom.
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AK



Joined: 06 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Crasse wrote:
AK wrote:
I've worked with several labels and in each case the agreement has been that the label will cover the cost of printing the material, while I took care of all expenses related to recording and layouts. The labels would then send around 10% of the copies they print to me which I am free to sell and they sell the rest. Personally I like this system, it's simple enough and hopefully everyone gets to make a little bit of money on top of covering their expenses. I'm also lucky enough that I'm not dependent on selling albums to make a living, so another big thing that labels do is provide exposure and distribution. Then again, I'm speaking for a band that releases albums / demos in quantities of 150-500 per release and not the bigger / more popular bands and how they operate and interact with labels.

On a bit of side note, I can say nothing but good things about the labels I have worked with, it's always been a very low stress and enjoyable process releasing material.

Same here. I received 20% of the copies not 10% though. Not because I demanded it but because the label said that number and I didnt know if it was normal or not so I accepted. I dont pay for studios or artworks so i dont really care if i make money or not since i spend 0.


And actually now that I think about it you're right 20% is usually more standard, 10% was for the releases bordering around the 500 copies area. In all cases, I always have more copies than I know what to do with so again, can't complain about the general way it works.
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