Thursday, July 05, 2007



No smoking in venues again!

My lungs may now have a chance to return to their normal state after all.


Download this.

It's great.

Our music video for breakout (at last!) -

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

goodbye, half a million quid

The high cost of selling out

You've got the band, you've got the talent (or you'd like to think so) - all you need now to make the big time is that killer hit ... and about half a million pounds. Dave Simpson reports on the price of fame or, more realistically, the cost of squandering money on a lost cause

Friday June 29, 2007
The Guardian

Advance: £150,000
An advance is the money a record company gives to the band when the contract is signed - it's cash the label plans to recover from the earnings the band will make from future CD and download sales. It is meant to cover the band's living expenses over the cycle of a recording, releasing and promoting an album (which is usually around 18 months). The advance is split between the four members, and the manager will take 20% off the top. That works out as less than pounds 35,000 each over a year and a half, which isn't enough to make throwing TVs out of hotel windows a viable financial option.

Recording costs: £100,000
A hundred grand, staggering as it sounds, is an average figure for a band to spend on recording an album. They'll have run through the recording in a decent studio with a reasonable producer - for that kind of money they can't afford to spend eight weeks rerecording one tom-tom. A chunk of the money - around £30,000 - will go to whichever whizz kid producer is entrusted with the task of turning tuneless reprobates from Rugby into a collision of the Beatles and the Stones. More will go to recording engineers, remixers, as well as towards studio hire and the costs of mastering the record.

Videos: £90,000
In 1995, Michael Jackson's record company spent more than $7m making the video for Scream ($53,000 alone was spent on breaking guitars), but a band can now make a decent promotional tool for as little as £5,000, though a major label will spend more than that to get a shot at rotation on MTV2. A new act would ideally be partnered with a hip promos director, such as Wiz (who shot Kasabian's Empire but charges a minimum of £80,000), but it's more likely band and label will reach a compromise, maybe £90,000 for videos for two songs shot by someone who'll work for less.

Advertising and posters: £95,000
The age-old industry tool of a "blaze" of publicity has not got any cheaper. A half-page ad in NME might cost £5,000, while an advert on MTV2 or Kerrang! TV costs £10,000 per single (that's the price of airtime plus the costs of making the ad). A good poster campaign costs £10,000 per single and £15,000 for an album, but posters can be wasted money, as our expert explains: "All Saints had a massive comeback campaign but the record bombed. You can't take those posters down, whereas if they'd booked TV airtime they could have switched it to a different act."

Clothing: £200
Many rock bands don't spend money on stylists, at least until they're in contention for glossy magazine covers - they're scruffy blighters because their fans think filth looks cool. Generally, the only time a rock band will shell out on outfits will be for a certain look for a video, and that's covered by the video budget. "Bands like Hundred Reasons or the View have not spent money on clothes," says a music industry expert, "although we recently had to give one band's manager £200 to get them some new trainers, because their feet smelled."

Touring: £40,000
Bands start to make money from touring once they're successful, but before that the record company must pay to send them round the country, with a sound man. Rising bands typically lose around £20,000 over three UK tours in a year this way. Bands seeking to get major exposure as support to an established act may even be forced to pay to get on the bill, depending on how unscrupulous the headliners' management is. More money - another £20,000 - goes on travelling to TV and radio sessions and hiring equipment. Bands claw this back through merchandising: a £10 T-shirt makes six quid a time for the group.

Retail and displays: £53,000
Not many people know that those eye-catching window displays in record shops are actually bought and paid for. Getting the likes of HMV and Virgin to stock and put up instore promotion for a CD costs around £10,000 for a debut single, £18,000 for a higher profile follow-up and £20,000-£25,000 for an album. Similar deals are done for piles of beans in supermarkets, although you wouldn't put them in your CD player.

Photos: £10,000
It will take a top rock photographer to turn the four former butchers and builders from Plymouth into four budding and brooding Johnny Borrells. A master of the moody image such as Kevin Westerberg (famed for shots of the likes of REM and Thom Yorke) won't take the lens cap off for less than £10,000, and that's before the cost of hiring studios, lights and so on. Luckily, a lesser name can do the whole package for under £5,000, while for those on a particularly tight budget there's always the photo booth in Boots.

Conquering the internet: £20,500
It costs around £3,000 to create the band's website, but you've also got to hire a publicist to bring the band to the attention of music websites, make tracks available digitally and pay someone to update a band's MySpace site. Another bare minimum of £4,500 (£500 a month over nine months) goes on paying a firm to set up "street teams" - armies of highly motivated whippersnappers who promote a band because they love them. Street teams themselves don't get paid, but they get to meet the band at the soundcheck, get a T-shirt and a copy of the album. Flyers and other tools for these pesky kids add another £3,000.

Creating a buzz: £36,000
Around £12,000 goes on retaining a TV plugger for six months to take your video to the TV stations. That is vitally important when a show such as Later with Jools Holland can massively raise a band's profile. "Later's not easily pluggable, but you wouldn't get on the show without a plugger," the Guardian is told. "They'd never put a band on who they stumbled across in the pub." You need a different plugger to get you on to radio, and another publicist to deal with the print media - and you'll be paying them the same as the TV plugger.

Total cost: £594,700
Launching a band is ludicrously expensive, but it's not all dead money. Of the expenses quoted above, the label will generally recoup around 50% of video costs once the band starts to sell records, and they can also claw back some of the costs of touring, recording - and, of course, the advance will come back once the band have earned that much money from sales. But the rest is lost, and as our expert puts it: "Obviously, if the band flops, all is lost." And that's the key point: most band are destined to fail. So, goodbye, half a million quid.