As the music industry continues to find itself desperately seeking a new business model to keep their ships afloat, one way that has been popping up recently is the 360 degree record deal. To many artists and bands out there, any type of record deal seems better than none at all, but this is most definitely taking it a step too far. Many musicians, even those with record deals, make their bread and butter from live performances and selling merchandise. By offering that revenue stream to your record label, good luck paying those credit card and utility bills.
British music industry veteran Alan McGee, best known as the founder of Creation Records, posted a rant on his MySpace page which attacks the entire concept of a 360 record deal. Here is what he said:
Why am I reading about record industry honchos defending 360-degree deals? I find it incredible, this passion to rationalise one's industry's demise.
The record industry's demand for bands to sign over a portion of their merchandise and tour revenues as part of a recording contract is an admission that selling music is not a sustainable business model.
I understand survival. I understand business. I understand it is not always win/win as it should be. I understand some lose and some win. But I don't understand raping and pillaging in business.
Artists have been getting ripped off since the beginning of the marriage of commerce and art. Musicians have been getting the sharp end of the stick since the start of recorded music. You don't have to look far to find a bankrupt or poverty-stricken musician.
It was trailblazers such as Peter Grant here in the UK and Shep Gordon in the States who fought for artists, winning them a percentage of the door at gigs. They pulled artists out of the slavery of 1970s deals.
Didn't we all applaud that? Wasn't it great when the Beatles started their own label?
In a 360-degree deal, this is what the records company is doing: ripping off the door at the gig. Let's call it like it is. Where is the morality in that? The cops would bust someone for stealing at the door. And everyone would applaud.
So what's going on here?
It raises the question of legality. If you want a record deal you have to give up money you earn from other endeavours. Isn't this a form of extortion? I hope some attorney gives counsel on this for us all.
Because music is free and the traditional record industry model obsolete it doesn't give the industry the right to move into the business of promoters and merchandisers.
What next? Will oil companies own our cars?