Fri Oct 02, 2020

(Part One of Four)

I got a request for placement on an old song from one of the supervisors I work with often. This song is from a band that is no longer exists. We create a deal that we can place the song anyway. Still, it was probably over five years ago someone requested something around the songs from their catalogue.

She had a lead on to someone that needed the song. But it was locked on YouTube through the aggregator to the song. This one was so old that back in the days we let the artist upload themselves to aggregators. The reason why we don’t let that happen now is pretty clear in what happened here.

She asked me if I knew the company that was blocking it as it was not the usual ones, so I had no clue. I then went back to the leader of the band and asked if he knew.

The problem with this band was that they never really understood the music industry. Everything they thought was part of  it should be cool names, getting a record contract, being flashy. The band that takes a picture that they are standing outside the office of Universal. I told them for years that they had to learn how the industry worked before they could get a record deal. But no, half of the management job was to explain why they couldn’t get a record deal. It was several reasons, not just one. Still, it always came back that they didn’t have success because they didn’t have a record label. Oh well, I can always get you a record label that is not hard. It would be just to negotiate without having anything special to offer is that you just get a deal, nothing really in the deal. 

After a year of nagging, I just went to a friend that had one of the biggest record labels in Sweden. Got them a fair deal. Not the best deal, but totally fair. The first thing the leader of the band did was try to get to my record label friend direct. Suddenly he had the record label guy so why need a manager? The second thing he does is open his mouth and just tell the record label owner that they should invest $10,000 dollars on a video that their best friend would shoot. The point of this is that his friend barely had done any videos and was certainly not a name. This was also the time when YouTube was still small so a video was really nothing anyone would put money in. The budgets were around 100 dollars if you had a budget at all.

The record label came back to me and was just astonished at how stupid they were. I had to explain to them to not speak to the band, speak to me and I had to deal with the stupid part from the band. This was also because the leader was phoning the in-house producer several times a day just sitting and chatting about nothing just to sound cool in front of his musician's friends.

So, it continued for a couple of months until they realized that being on the label just meant they had to work harder and actually have to start to focus on their career. That just broke up the band. The leader then called me and asked if he started a new band do I have the rights as a manager for that too? I told him, no of course not. But he didn’t ask me if I would like to do it? He was just satisfied that he could move on with a new project. Okay the answer would have been no to the new band anyway.

Then he just went for all contacts that had passed through the former band with his new project. Of course, everybody knew that he was a pain in the ass so they called me see if I still was the  go-between against all stupidity, when I was not they more or less dumped the project.

When I reached out for this old song I knew what kind of thing he would do. I got the question on an SMS. He answered ten minutes later with a question of what an aggregator was. So, I had to explain that. Then it just went silent. No more answers.

I had to go back to my supervisor that I didn’t know the name of the aggregator. They didn’t have time to wait they had already waited too long. I suggested another song with another band kind of similar and the supervisor would check that instead.

Five days later the guy answered with: What’s the company name that is interested?

Like I would ever tell an artist that! I know that you would run to the supervisor TO try to sell the song direct through him, not knowing that the song is on a deal from us anyway. It would mess up the whole situation and the supervisor would be stuck with a maniac calling her all the time if she had sold a song. Or try to sell another song that doesn’t fit from his new band. Things like that are why supervisors don’t want to deal directly with and artist that has little to no knowledge.

And just adding to the stupidity waiting five days to answer on a deal? If you know the business, you need to answer before they had any more questions. I just told him that he was too late and I made a note to myself never try to sell anything with him again.

The tragic part of the whole story that this artist goes around and portrays he is the nicest guy in the world. He is trying to collect money for nurses. He is a spokesman for several non-profit organizations and so on. I guess the music industry’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

And today I got the message that the supervisor went along with my tipoff and placed the other song.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes scheduled for February 18-20, 2021.