Op-Ed: The Low Risk / High Reward of Eighth Grade Metal Band Unlocking the Truth’s $1.8 Million Record Deal with Sony


The future is in the youth! Or so believes Sony, who just inked eighth grade NYC metal band Unlocking the Truth to a deal potentially worth five albums and $1.8 million.

Before you become enraged that a bunch of 13-year-olds got handsomely rewarded for a YouTube hit while your hard-working, road-dogging, instant ramen-eating metal band hasn’t even attracted any attention from the one-man basement record label in your town, consider this: Unlocking the Truth will receive a $60,000 advance for the first album, and the rest of the deal — which includes hefty advances for each subsequent album — will only kick in if that first album sells 250,000 units.

$60,000 is a massive sum for a first record’s advance by metal standards these days, sure. Most new bands who sign with respectable metal labels would consider themselves lucky to be offered even a $10k advance on album one. But no one here is getting rich: the band has to use that money to record, mix and master — presumably with expensive people of the label’s choosing — meaning there won’t be much if any money left to go into the band members’ pockets. The band’s manager Alan Sacks will take his 15% ($9,000), I’d guess the band will spend $20k-$30k to create a killer-sounding album with a top-shelf rock producer, and, if self-proclaimed “momager” Annette Jackson — actually 13-year-old guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse’s mother — is smart, they’ll put away the rest for college, which will only end up averaging about $10k per member, $7k each if recently added bassist Alec Atkins is considered a full-fledged member. Or they might just use the remainder for touring expenses. 

I’m sure everyone involved realizes that 250,000 units — especially for a first album — is a gargantuan sum for a heavy metal record in this day and age. You can count on one hand the only modern metal bands (not counting legacy acts like Slayer, Metallica, etc) to reach that level on any single album: Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, All That Remains. And probably some metalcore/haircutcore bands I’m not aware of or don’t care about.

Which is to say nothing of the fact that Unlocking the Truth don’t even have a singer yet. I’m sure this is in the works as we speak, or even already locked in.

I’d love to be proven wrong about this, but that the album won’t sell 250,000 units is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Sony is taking a calculated gamble that the Internet will continue to be enraptured by the story of 13-year-old African American heavy metal musicians from Brooklyn who captured the world’s attention through a viral frenzy. I’m sure they’ll push the radio angle quite heavily too. Maybe (probably) they’ll pair the band with expert songwriters to attempt to deliver that big hit. Worst case scenario for Sony, they’ve invested $60,000 — a small sum for a major — on a band that could hit it big and they’ve lost out, a strategy that describes pretty much every major label signee ever. Best case scenario they’ve got a massive seller on their hands, and you better believe Sony has at least some merch rights for Unlocking the Truth, too — lord knows the youth market LOVES to buy merch. It’s low risk, high reward.

For Unlocking the Truth, may as well live it up and go for it. It’s the chance of a lifetime, what every young band dreams of (and some old bands too). Sure, there’s a high likelihood the journey won’t extend beyond two or three years, but in the process they will have toured the world, had some incredible experiences, and, hopefully, saved up some money for college. At best, if all goes according to plan, they’ll be worldwide superstars instead.

For those interested, here’s how the rest of Unlocking the Truth’s deal with Sony will shake out should album one be a success:

Advance for album #2: $325,000
Album #3: $400,000
Album #4: $450,000
Album #5: $550,000

So this deal is pretty cool if you ask me. The future is in the youth: you never know what today’s kids are capable of.

[via New York Post, Blabbermouth]

Show Comments
Metal Sucks Greatest Hits