Monday, March 10, 2008

Who Says No One Can Get A Record Deal...?

In many spots on this blog, I've talked about the sad state of affairs in the music industry. Labels are consolidating and industry people are terrified of losing their jobs.

The big labels have no idea how to address the demand for the digital availability of music and are fumbling with modified business models. Bands are getting dropped left and right, and newly signed artists have about five seconds to make it or they are dropped.

KISS' big mouthed jerk Gene Simmons says there will never be another new KISS album because they wouldn't know how to release it. And Radiohead shocks everyone by giving their new album away for free digitally, and then the physical release debuts at number one months later.

In this era of fear and uncertainty, only a true knock-out gets a label deal, right?

Nope! Check out this press release announcing that the reunited Asia has been signed to EMI Records for its new CD, called Phoenix.

Yep, the same Asia in which half of its members had heart procedures in the last six months. How can EMI make any money off of these guys?

I love Asia's first album and a half - don't get me wrong. And I am bummed that yet again they will bypass the Northwest on their current tour.

But they are playing really small venues. I can't imagine they are doing more than break-even on the road. But hey, at least they have a record deal!

So this is a bit of a head scratcher to me. What do you all make of it?


VoxMoose said...

Once you are in the system (with connections) I think the process getting a new album made is easier than starting from scratch. Can you think of any old timer bands with any reasonable history who WANT to make a new album, but can't because no recording company will sponsor them?

Isorski said...

Yeah sure - these days anyone can MAKE an album. I could do that in my living room. But having a record company enter into an agreement with me where they will handle distribution, promotion, tour support, duplication etc - that is another matter altogether.

Even though some of them have a good thing going on the touring circuit, I think many established bands are in label limbo, especially if their best days seem to be long behind them.

For example, Ace Frehley says he is 'shopping his new CD to 2 or 3 labels' as if one will want to sign him. We'll see what happens, but I think this Asia thing is pretty amazing and is a deviation from the norm.

Further on up the road said...

Hmm - let's just recycle the old stuff heh!

It's sad that good new bands can't get material out with the backing the old guard can.

Can't say I'm bothered about Kiss - sorry I never got it about them.

Asia - now that I'd listen too - but look at the photo? Looks like they are waxworks already!

Bob K said...

Asia has actually had a career and a recording contract almost the whole time since their first album. Geoff Downes had kept the group alive and had released at least half a dozen albums under the name Asia since John Whetton left. I wasn't a fan of their lead singer (who's name I can't remember - Payne?) but Steve Howe would appear with them occasionally as a guest. When they got back together they made a point of being the "original Asia."

I am a little surprised that EMI is releasing it though - I thought they'd be with a much smaller label. I, for one, am really glad that they have some new material. Yes just announced that they'll tour again (with Rick Wakeman's son on keys) and I really hope they record some new music. They've toured a couple of times now since their last new album and it's time to put some new stuff in the mix. One wonders, though, if they can make enough money selling an album of new material to pay for it.

Chris said...

I'm curious about the Frehley album as well to see who releases it. What astounds me the most when it comes to labels is that, in most cases, the smaller indie labels seem to bust their asses to replicate the way big labels operate, a model which clearly needs some redefinition. I don't really get it.

As for Asia, I have a soft spot for those guys. The first time I got together with friends to start a band, our first rehearsal consisted of playing the intro to "Heat of the Moment" over and over because that's about all we could play.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought that picture was an ad for Viagra.

Guitarman5150 said...

I think the music industry in the past 15 years or so has become a joke. There is great talent out there but it has become harder and harder for those acts to be signed because they either like a band from the 1st second or not.

When I played clubs in the 80's it was hard to get your foot in ANY door. Seems like it's still that way.

I don't believe for a second that KISS will never release another album. He's to $$$$ hungry to ever do such a thing.

As far as Ace and his new album. I'd love to hear it. I don't think I will anytime soon. Still love to hear it though.

Don Capone said...

The old farts who run the music industry are familiar with Asia, and think they are a safe bet. And maybe they're right, because the target audience for Asia is older, and are still buying physical CDs as opposed to downloading albums. Also with all the reunions lately, they're just trying to ride the wave, I guess.

Bob K said...

Don, I'm not convinced that selling physical CDs is that much more desirable than downloads. You're selling either way, right?

Maybe someone with a better sense of the industry can chime in here but I think a sale is a sale.

Isorski said...

The deal was for both digital distribution and physical CDs, in the US only. not sure if that makes a diferenec to any of you. I guess my point was, if a big label signs Asia - a band long past its prime, on the mid sized venue touring circuit - why can't others in the same boat get deals? I guess it's all who you know. Maybe the new album is gonna kick butt, comercially. But I have major doubts about that.

Don Capone said...


A lot of it IS about who you know. Asia has a track record and aren't high-risk. Book publishing is in similar shape nowadays as the music industry, too. Knowing someone gets your foot in the door, lets you stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Bob k,

Selling downloads is more desirable to the publisher because there is no overhead (no printing booklets, burning CDs, shipping, storage), and more profit can be made. But I think Asia fans are more apt to buy a physical CD.

Isorski said...

Damn straight, Don! We want to ogle that killer Roger Dean artwork. In fact, I'd buy it on vinyl if they'd let me!

Ned said...

Getting signed...what does that mean? It used to mean album advances, tour and promotion support in exchange for handing over the master recording rights and the risk of massive debt if the advance wasn't recouped. NOW a major label deal means access to large distrubution channels (like Best Buy) and a little promo support in exchange for an album that the band pays for, a percentage of merchandise profits AND rights to the master recordings.

Asia is not going to crack 20,000 in CD sales (they're digital single track sales might be decent if they have strong material). Their main profit center for these guys is touring..and I'd be shocked if EMI (who just purged 2/3rds of their artists) isn't getting a cut.