Creation Records founder Alan McGee, the keynote speaker at last years BIGSOUND conference in Brisbane who signed Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Oasis to name just a few, is never far from controversy.
From calling for the Brit Awards to be scrapped due to it being overrun ‘self-interested record company people who just vote for their own acts‘, to laughing when hearing of the London fire that destroyed a warehouse used by numerous indie labels saying it was a result that “got rid of all the shit music”, the outspoken industry veteran loves to stir the pot.
Now jumping on his Myspace page, yes, he still uses Myspace, McGee has taken aim at the relatively new record label practise of signing new acts to what is called a ‘360 deal’.
So what is a 360 deal? Normally a record company agree to sign you and produce your record in return for part of the revenue it generates. This is obviously an over-simplification but you get the idea. But in a 360 deal the record company also demands a share of your merchandise revenue and even the revenue you raise from touring.
The 360 deal was clearly born out of desperation by the recording industry looking for new revenue streams to help recover the losses they were seeing from ever decreasing sales of recorded music.
But not everyone agrees with the concept, including apparently McGee who wrote in his rant “Why am I reading about record industry honchos defending 360-degree deals? I find it incredible, this passion to rationalise one’s industry’s demise.”
“The record industry’s demand for bands to sign over a portion of their merchandise and tour revenues as part of a recording contract is an admission that selling music is not a sustainable business model.”
“I understand survival. I understand business. I understand it is not always win/win as it should be. I understand some lose and some win. But I don’t understand raping and pillaging in business.”
“Artists have been getting ripped off since the beginning of the marriage of commerce and art. Musicians have been getting the sharp end of the stick since the start of recorded music. You don’t have to look far to find a bankrupt or poverty-stricken musician.”
“It was trailblazers such as Peter Grant here in the UK and Shep Gordon in the States who fought for artists, winning them a percentage of the door at gigs. They pulled artists out of the slavery of 1970s deals.”
“Didn’t we all applaud that? Wasn’t it great when the Beatles started their own label?”
“In a 360-degree deal, this is what the records company is doing: ripping off the door at the gig. Let’s call it like it is. Where is the morality in that? The cops would bust someone for stealing at the door. And everyone would applaud.”
“So what’s going on here? It raises the question of legality. If you want a record deal you have to give up money you earn from other endeavours. Isn’t this a form of extortion? I hope some attorney gives counsel on this for us all.”
“Because music is free and the traditional record industry model obsolete it doesn’t give the industry the right to move into the business of promoters and merchandisers. What next? Will oil companies own our cars?”
Do you agree? Is the 360 deal exploitative? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts.