Live albums are coming out thick and fast these days. People tell me it’s because bands need to get product out on a regular basis because there is not much money made from recorded music sales. So getting new product out yearly instead of every two to three years is the new option. But it still doesn’t solve the problem of people not buying albums.
My answer always is, there never was much money made from recorded music sales.
The difference between the glory years of recorded music sales and now, is the ADVANCE. Once upon a time, the labels paid it, and now not so much.
Yes, that sweet million a band would get before the recording process even started. You see, the ADVANCE would be used to fund the demos (studio time), recording (Producer, Studio Time, Engineer, Mixer, Mastering), their lifestyles (rent, mortgage payments, addictions) and all other expenses like manager, lawyer and whoever else makes a claim.
The ADVANCE would be given on the basis that the record label would recoup those monies from the sales of the album. However, the fine print is the recouping monies would come from the bands 2% royalty percentage payments.
So if a band moves a million CD’s at $10 a CD, the gross income earned by the label is $10 million. However, the bands royalty percentage is taken from the Net income. So the label adds CD manufacturing, transportation, marketing, pizza deliveries, carpet cleaning, hairdresser bills and whatever else they could think off, in order to reduce gross to the final net income.
Let’s be generous and say the net income is $1 million.
And the band gets 2% of that. Which is $20,000. And from that $20K, the manager gets their 30%, the Producer the band wanted and the label agreed to, as long as the payment comes from the bands percentage gets 20%, the lawyer another 20%, which leaves 30% for the band.
It comes to $6,000. And from that $6K, the band needs to repay the $1 million advance. For the band to repay that advance, they would need to sell a lot of recorded albums, otherwise they would be listed as un-recouped by the label.
Not bad for the label. Invest a million and make 9 million profits. Of course, this is contingent that the band moves product. In other cases, it will be a bad loss for the label.
Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” was a big loss for Geffen commercially, while Whitesnake’s “87” and Guns N Roses “Appetite For Destruction” was a big win. Lynch Mob’s “Wicked Sensation” cost Elektra a lot of money with all the advances paid to get Lynch to sign and it didn’t do great commercially as the label wanted, while “Dr Feelgood” and the soon to be released “Black” album from Metallica would be a great win.
“Crazy World” from Scorpions and “Heartbreak Station” from Cinderella got Mercury/Vertigo what they wanted, while others disappointed. White Lion’s “Mane Attraction” cost Atlantic a cool million and it disappointed commercially, while “Pride” was done cheap and it was a win.
Everyone knows about the Motley Crue period with John Corabi. Nikki Sixx has developed amnesia to it, Tommy Lee doesn’t talk about it, Vince Neil wasn’t involved with it, so for him it doesn’t exist and the only two people who talk about it are John Corabi and Mick Mars. The album cost a lot.
Musically, it’s one hell of an album. Mick Mars has gone on record to say the album has some of his best guitar work, and god damn it, the man is right. So it’s good to see the vocalist behind it, paying tribute to it.
John Corabi does a fantastic job giving his Motley Crue recorded output some overdue respect in “Live 94 (One Night In Nashville)”. And to be honest, songs that I thought were overproduced on the guitar side, sound massive, heavy and melodic live. It’s all raw, no crap rock and roll.
There are mistakes, there are voices hitting the pavement, but it’s totally worth it. “Power To The Music”, “Hooligan’s Holiday”, “Hammered” (love the story about the Crue audition and how this song came to be), “Till Death Do Us Part”, “Smoke The Sky” and “Droppin Like Flies” are still my favourites.
And I have a new found respect for “Poison Apples”. I always thought the original version was too over-produced, and after hearing it live, the song is a deadest killer. “Welcome To The Numb” live could have come from an Aerosmith album.
This is what music has always been about. Getting out on the road and doing it sweaty.
Whitesnake is a band which keeps firing out live recordings year after year. “Made In Japan”, “Made In England”, “Bad To The Bone 84”, “Castle Donnington 90”, “Live In The Heart Of The City” and “The Purple Tour” have been released as stand-alone albums over the last 10 years.
Of course with each album release there is a chance to cash in via the pockets of the super fans who pay for everything their heroes produce. David Coverdale knows it.
But “The Purple Album” is good. Really good. I reckon it’s because Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra are a perfect fit for the band. Veterans of the scene, they know how to deliver the goods. If you don’t believe me, check out Reb Beach’s solo on “Mistreated”. He burns and the song sounds so fresh and modern, but it was released in 1974 or 5.
There has been a lot of talk on social media about the upcoming Whitesnake release and how songs are being written by Coverdale and Beach, Coverdale and Hoekstra and with all three of the guys contributing together.
With the talent there, it should make for an interesting listen.