Let me tell you all what a development deal means. (long read)

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Hello again everyone, I have returned! Biggrin

So, let me tell you about the horror I just went through. So, my song "Wilmas & Bettys" got pretty significant radio play in Canada and that got the attention of Capitol Records. They looked into me and then we had a Zoom meeting (Coronavirus) and they sent me a development deal contract. This stated that they would assign me a man (his name was Marcus) from a development firm, who would give me advice and guide me through maximizing my social media presence, my streams, and show Capitol that there was a market for me and my music. In return, the firm would get a piece of the pie. (This sounds shady, and honestly it is).

During this process, Marcus treated me like garbage. He would insult me, tell me I was always going to be nothing, and unless I played by the rules was destined to fail. They listened to my song "Footstomper" and told me it was garbage and I needed to replace it. ONE GOOD THING was they pushed my song "Dernier Cri" through the red tape from Apple. (English song with French title).

Marcus called me at work, text me at night, repeatedly woke my wife up (California 2 hours under central standard time USA), and constantly just hassled me.

Finally, the deal was over. They told me to completely scrap my upcoming album "All My Many Houses" in light of coronavirus possibly lifting soon and festivals resuming and they wanted me to create a hardstyle festival album and they might be able to get me on a small spot on a festival tour. I told them no and I refused to scrap my entire "All My Many Houses" album.

This led to a very heated argument, some death threats to them from me, and them "dropping" their services to me. I received a phone call later, from Marcus, telling me I was out and I was blocked and they blocked me on Zoom, they blocked me on cell phone, and that Capitol Records is no longer interested in my development. Marcus also told me before he hung up that I would never be anything, I would never have success because I am lazy and inflexible and refuse to do the necessary hard work to make it and he's glad to be rid of me because I'm a "whiny bitch". He says music is to make money. If you want money, you make better music. Since I am incapable of making better music, I must not be interested in money and therefore they are not interested in me.

Just wanted to share that for all of you folks who might have hopes and dreams of getting a record deal. Artist development is what they use to make sure you will be a viable success for them and that's basically the treatment you will get in artist development. Nonstop phone calls and them deciding your music sucks suddenly make new music.

Or at least that was my experience, but I wanted to share it with you.

Aw, man, that's terrible.
I'm sorry all that crap happened to you.
I guess that why they call it the music "business".

sounds awful. brand name scammers

Sorry to hear that, but I'm afraid I'm not at all surprised.

Sorry to hear that, but I'm afraid I'm not at all surprised. Hearing about that sort of behaviour makes me think the music business deserves to be in the woeful state it's currently in. Sucks for artists, though.

You're prolly lucky they didn't charge you a bunch for artist services and crap.

@johnstaples Anyone who asks you for money to help your music career is scamming you. People who are actually in the music business and can help you would laugh at your pocket change. They are multi-millionaires and they'll never be like "Yeah but you gotta pay $8.99 a month" or "That'll be $60" or "I can do it for you for $1200".

@NuJ4X, but there are plenty of scammers at every level!

dzd's picture

@NuJ4X yup they didn't get those multiple millions from nowhere......... more like a whole bunch of somewhere over time, what you say "pocket change" Wink so yeah, sorry for your troubles, but could of been worse, but yeah not really all that surprised which is an indictment on the whole industry.

Sorry that it turned out such a nightmare. I look on appalled at the whole music industry (like a metal shop stamping out). And then i discover belatedly world-class artists who are self supporting and uncompromised and working and never under the boots of the bigboys. (My latest "discovery" being Mean Mary James...where have I BEEN this last 15 years...). Look on the bad experience this way: the fact that they started a deal is itself affirmation of the quality of your music and its potential appeal to a wider audience. The subsequent "change to our mould or you're dead" stuff, well, that's attempting to destroy what was originally attractive. So take that first "affirmation" and move on down the indie youtube/spotify/twitch etc path. Less money, more fulfilling, more sanity.

dzd's picture

wise words from @Tim Fatchen and yeah they never would of bothered with you anyway if they didn't see some marketability in either you, or your music, and your best interests as an artist were never a thought that ever crossed their thick mind and darkened soul Biggrin . So sorry for the shit experience for you, but that hopefully turns out to be a good learning and growing one. (never what anyone wants to hear, I know), but good luck!

- Interesting

So you made death threats?!
Are these standard practice in the music business? Will I need to practice them?

@Freaks Of Nosmo 9 Yes, very much so. A goodie bag of death threats in the music industry are like American Express. Don't leave home without it.

Your experiences seems pretty extreme..or else i suppose thngs have just gotten worse over the years. in my days, a development deal just meant that you were on ice until and if the company decided you were ready. ive known people who were in development for years and never released anything, then were dropped. one big change i saw was in the late 80s, if a new artst had a successful album, they were not allowed to release a second one, as the promotional costs were so high that the money would be better spent on breaking a new artist. furthermore, there was the fear that the second abum would be a disappointment to the fans, and the career of the artist would be imperilled. it was common for one album to sustain a career for five years or more. witness the wallflowers second album (the first was a bomb) frim which the song one headlight stayed in roitation on radio for five years. then there us the sad case of jeff buckey. after the success of his first abum, he was given tons of money to produce a second one, but although he was very prolific during these years, none of his music was released, the comany believing that none of it was right for him, in contrast, his father Tim had been able, in the same span of time, to create and release 9 albums, 5 of which have become legendary. my own personal experiece includes a band that drew the interest of a man who managed one of the top arena rock acts if the 70s (a band that is still actve today) he sent a whole develoment team over to our rehearsal space to try to manipulate our act. this was in 81, and there was no cruelty involved, but i was unwilling to be choreographed, so i quit and the band went on with another singer.writer and released nothing. meanwhile, the manager latched onto another group and they signed, had one hit that they coasted on for 15 years before breaking up.

@billwhite51 An artist development deal now works like this:

1. Record company gets wind of you.
2. Record company decides if they like you.
3. Record company contacts you, expects you're impressed.
4. Record company assigns a "handler" to you, from a development firm.
5. Handler tells you what music you make is good, what sucks, how to operate social media, etc.
6. Handler assists you to getting 20,000 streams a month. Once you get to 20,000 streams in a month, you move forward.

What "moving forward" means: If you gain (and maintain) 20,000 streams per month, you start to get your foot in the door. You get added to "verified spotify playlists" (the real stuff, not the thing that the generic email says it can do for only $60!!) and then they put you in their test blogs. If your numbers go up, they smile. If your numbers hold steady, they do nothing. If your numbers fall under 20k, you're done.

As you progress forward and start showing better numbers, and make music, etc then at the end of the "run" (3 years is what I was told) the record label decides if they want to sign you or not. Basically the artist and the development firm "handler" have built the fan base, made the music, gained the streams, etc. The record label looks to see if you would be profitable or not.

Let's say you're getting 50,000 streams a month by the end of the 3 years. Will the label sign you? No way. Yes you met their minimal obligations but you didn't show significant growth therefore you are not a safe bet monetarily.

But let's say you're averaging 1.5 - 2.0 million streams per month. Will the label sign you? Hell yes they will. You already did all the work. They don't have to do squat. You sign the deal, make the music, and they make money off of you.

Welcome to the music industry, 2020.

the difference between then and nw seems to be the existance of social media to etermine what was previously determined by other, just as unreliable, means. the problem began when failed musicias took executive positions n the industry. the old gius who used to run things dudnt know anythng about music they put everything on the market and the music that lost money was a tax write off for the music that made money. and it was the consumer who made the decisions about what was and was not marketable. the three year development period was pretty standard then, but rather than a sadiistic handler, there were teams who wrte up he progress reports and told the artust in development what had to be worked on.