Protest the Hero Signed to Razor & Tie Records. Is That A Slap in the Face to The Fans That Gave Them $341,000?
Protest the Hero made headlines earlier this year when their Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign raised $341,000, far surpassing their goal. Now they’ve gone and signed a bunch of record deals: Razor & Tie in the U.S., Sony Music in Canada and Spinefarm in Europe. Considering they raised so much friggin’ money on their own, is this latest news a slap in the face to the fans that shelled out money to release their album independently? Some fans are surely pissed, although they ought not be, because what Protest the Hero are doing is perfectly reasonable. Let’s break it down.
1) Protest the Hero promised to record their album independently using the money fans pitched in, and that’s exactly what they did. The band never said they wouldn’t seek outside help to market, promote and distribute the resulting product. They even went as far as to break down their budget for all to see exactly how the money would be spent (something I haven’t seen any other bands at their level band do), and none of it was allocated towards anything not directly connected with the production of the record.
2) The physical items offered in the Indiegogo campaign perks — and, of course, the special items like a handwritten set of lyrics, a chance to have your voice on the new album, etc — are all exclusive to Indiegogo supporters. This was stated in the original Indiegogo campaign, but naturally IMNs are wont to gloss over details like this before puking out comments on Interwebs sites in a fit of rage, so Protest the Hero have reiterated as much in a recent statement:
It has been an arduous process because we have had to create two completely different packages for this album. One will be the exclusive release which will only go to people who contributed to our campaign.
The other is going to be the more standard release which we hope everyone will see on record store shelves (and digitally, of course).
Same goes for the t-shirts and other items. Here it is from the initial Indiegogo page itself:
Remember, anything that is available through the perks is exclusive to the campaign. The CD Digipak, Gatefold Vinyl, and Tshirt are all one time offers. None of them will ever be printed again in this way.
So if you contributed to the Indiegogo campaign you’re still getting something pretty cool and unique.
3) Did you really think Protest the Hero would somehow get CDs into stores by themselves? That’s an absolutely gargantuan task — the distribution channels are very limited and are available to only a few gatekeeper companies — and it requires a full-time, dedicated sales force. Only record labels have the workforce to make this happen. Yes, CDs still account for some percentage of sales, as hard as that is to believe. As for digital, someone whose full-time job it is to handle interacting with and keeping track of sales on iTunes and Amazon, accounting for streams on Spotify, etc, do a much better job of it than Rody Walker ever could.
4) The deals with Razor & Tie, etc are licensing deals, not proper record deals. In a licensing deal, a band licenses a finished product to a label to market and distribute in exchange for a cut of future profits. In a traditional record deal a label pays up front for the recording and then needs to be “paid back” by the band over time through a much larger percentage of revenue. This way Protest the Hero not only retain all the rights to their master recordings now and forever, but they don’t owe anyone any money; it’s all profit from hereon out, which means more money for cool things like tours, stage shows, music videos, new merch, and so on and so forth. The men in Protest the Hero are now free to spend their time worrying about putting on kick-ass shows for you instead of which stores are stocking the CD.
5) More marketing and PR muscle behind this project via an experienced, dedicated staff means more Protest the Hero music in the fans of more people worldwide, spreading the message to the masses.
So quit yapping and sounding the alarms and just look forward to the forthcoming Protest the Hero album. No release date has been announced, but a press release from Razor & Tie promises it’ll come out this fall. And I already almost forgot that Chris Adler handled drum duties on this jimjam. Sweet.