MC Suffa - Hilltop Hoods
A musician fits wherever they decide to fit into the music business. How hands-on an artist is depends on the artists themselves. I know artists that have absolutely nothing to do with the business side of things, and I know artists that try to control every aspect of their career.
We’re lucky in that we have great management, and we’re hands on, so we have the best of both worlds. They work with us towards our vision, rather than trying to control our course.
If you know nothing about the business side of things, it’s like being a worker without a union. You’re unaware of your rights and your opportunities.
For example, I know musicians who’ve been around for more than ten years who don’t about simple things, like the agencies that collect their royalties. This means they’ve been missing out on royalties they’re entitled to for a decade.
At the end of the day if you don’t familiarise yourself with the basics of the industry you could end up being exploited.
Most artists are obviously creative people by default, which is great, but creative minds don’t necessarily make the best business minds.
You need someone you can trust to handle your affairs so you can concentrate on being a musician.
Is the label you’re looking at signing with the right fit for you, and are they passionate about your music? If not I’d move on.
Next I’d look at whether the label was willing to invest in your release. A lot of labels will only make small investments in groups. It’s low risk for them; it’s kind of a ‘let’s throw these acts at the wall and if one sticks we’ll get behind them’ attitude. You don’t want that, you want someone that’s pushing for your success from the start.
At the same time you have to be careful that the recoupables are reasonable. It’s all good to have a huge budget, but when it comes to paying that budget back, it’s not as fun.
We started Golden Era Records because we’re passionate about music. We believe in the artists we sign, and we want their music to be heard.
As for it being a good business decision or not… Record sales are declining, there’s no denying that. If you’re looking to make a quick buck then buy a Subway franchise. We’re just happy to put out good music, as long as it’s not costing us money.
Having said that having a brand name like ‘Def Jam’, ‘Rhymesayers’ or ‘Stones Throw’ can be priceless. You get name recognition and brand loyalty. So in that way we get a lot out of Golden Era, you can’t just look at the financial side of things to see a venture as a success.