Originally Posted by donsolo
You know, vanity is being used here as an industry term (I hope.)
Jim does great work, and I suggest you go look Mike's work up in spotify/iTunes etc before questioning his abilities and motives. If anyone around here has a grasp on his goals and the drive to achieve them, it's him.
If he is the best singer/songwriter since Peter Gabriel, Leonard Cohen, Frank Zappa, that isn't the issue here.
You don't really know the band or the situation. It's my impression that these guys would have been cool if Mike did the whole thing without them and brought them in after the record to play the tunes live. Mike has 3 releases under his own name prior to this and he is the songwriter, booking agent, manager, web dev etc for the band. At this point, I'd think the other guys would just be happy to be invited to record on the UK sessions.
Possibly, however, I know people, and they either feel part of a band, or hired guns. Even amongst session players, when someone get's called in on their regular gig, they often feel maligned, even the ones smart enough to bite their tongues. A famous engineer/producer who was a subject of one of the QA sessions held on Gearslutz told me about how a regular client recorded an album with someone else and he was aggravated by it, in spite of the fact he is more than well aware how this industry works!
Back to the word "vanity."
You either mean it similar to the way producers set up a tier 3 "vanity" label to develop an unsigned act with the goal to sell their contract to a major or second-tier, major-funded label as in "not needed per se, but it helps the process."
OR you mean it as an ego-boost in regards to bragging rights.
I'm talking about how he came across as being dead set on doing these 4 tracks with Jim, even though it is obvious from his post that he hasn't got the money to do the rest of the record even half decently.
Will this help Mike? My opinion is, and always has been: yes. Press is more likely to talk about your album when there's an interesting story behind the making of it. Traveling halfway around the world to work with a name producer is a legitimate story. Then again, "we did this all on an iPhone" was interesting once as well. Mike hasn't been on X factor, England's got Karaoke talent or any other show of the sort. Every single one of those finalists get offered deals and they get press when the record comes out. Obviously there is more involved when it comes to record sales as many have flopped. But, I think we can all agree that press = sales. I'm the king of doing a record on the cheap. Admittedly, it's because of the town I'm in, the more you need to hire, the less budget you get to keep and the budgets suck already. Even still, I hire where needed.
I've met many, many people who have recorded with great and famous producers/engineers. Does it get you taken any more seriously, not that I've ever seen, for every successful, major album many of these people do, often they record a load of others you will never hear about.
As for your "Majors don't do P&D deals," clearly you don't have any experience with Universal, Interscope or Warner. Most records are P&D now across most genres. Not everyone is Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber. Most Indie bands being released under major label are P&D, almost all hip hop is, I'm almost certain all modern electronica is as well. It started back around the time of Modest Mouse, Squarepusher, and The Mountain Goats. Pop Punk hasn't gone P&D yet, which to me screams "do it now, be where the puck is going, not where it is"
Mike gets to go to a label and say "Hey, if you like what I've done already, you get to save at least 100k and limit your financial exposure on this release." P&D deals also don't get shelved. They either get released or the deal doesn't happen.
For better or worse, Rebecca Black was a P&D deal which is why the lawsuit came about as copyright wasn't properly established.
Well I certainly didn't say any of the above, to be honest, most deals are going the P&D way now, record companies don't have any budgets for artist development, indeed, I've heard stories of artists going to record companies with finished product and the record company asking to be paid towards pressing and promotion in return for access to their distribution network.
The LP as a traditional format may be on the outs in terms of the mega-hits but the EP certainly hasn't replaced it. The single has. Keeping this in mind, Mike gets to take 12 chances instead if 4 and the cost is almost the same. Why wouldn't you?
Ignoring the fact that CD sales have declined dramatically in the last few years, CD singles traditionally lost record companies huge amounts (not that they cared while sales were good as they cross collateralized), album sales made money, EP's tend to fall almost into the CD single category. In terms of making money, CD's, singles, EP's or albums all cost about the same to manufacture, the only difference is the resale price and the cost of the recording. There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule, but nobody pay's around £10 for an EP, realistically it's about half. If you sell through distribution, by the time the shops had it's margin there is little left, albums make profit, downloads, used to sell more as single tracks, though this might have changed or be changing.
Of course, this is an Internet forum and I don't want to pull out my d*ck and wave my credentials around nor my wife's who spent time in Warner's LA office. I suggest you look at the credits on your CDs (or look them up for your mp3s) before giving mike what I consider to be short-sighted advise based on an incomplete picture of the situation and the trends in the industry. I give my advise to him as a friend who has to look him in the eye if it fails. You simply get to remain an anonymous Internet poster with a strong opinion and questionable industry experience (working at guitar center doesn't count). I can't help that Mike comes here looking for an extra opinion, but the number of posters in this thread are surprisingly small which gives him a false sense of consensus. Thank god he's talking to people outside of GS.
Mikes original post was a "skewed" idea, if you want to make an album you have to look at your budget and get the best overall deal. Doing four "wonderful" tracks and a bunch of poor demo's and calling it an album won't wash, certainly, a record company will spot that straight away. I've heard albums recorded for around £3,500 ($5,000) that will cut the mustard for release on an industry quality, it's not easy, and you have to know your stuff, but it can be done without resorting to doing it in the bedroom.
You don't think Mike has an LP worth of good material because you haven't heard his music. Does he have 12 killer tracks in him? Yes. They're already written. I'm getting to work on my personal favorites. I'm lucky that way. I hear the hit-possibilities in these. I can't speak for anyone else working on the record because we aren't exactly having staff meetings about it. Mike is doing his own A&R.
This is irrelevant, I've heard some great albums that have sold less than 1,000 copies, I've also heard some terrible albums that have sold over 100,000. I remember meeting a "famous" songwriter, that had one major hit that get's played on radio time and time again. He lives off the royalties of that one record and has spent the last 20+ years making an album that he has never completed. This is reality in the music business, these type of stories are common place.
I wish Mike all the best and good luck with his project, however, I would seriously recommend that he thinks again as to how he's going about it and looks at how best to do the work within his budget. This is meant as constructive, friendly, Gearslutz forum advice, based on my experiences over the last 32 years in this game. Make money, lose money, it's not going to effect me, my family or my friends. I'm not working with him, so I don't have a horse in this race.