Chevelle Drummer Explains How Band Made No Money From 6 Million Album Sales
Like most bands, hard rock radio stalwarts Chevelle have not made any money from album sales. That popular bands primarily derive their income from other avenues — touring, merch, publishing, etc. — is a story as old as the record industry itself due to the way such deals are typically structured. Still, that revelation caught the band’s fans off guard when frontman/guitarist Pete Loeffler said as much in the press last month, revealing the band hasn’t seen a penny from its 6 million units shifted. And now Chevelle drummer (and Pete’s brother) Sam Loeffler has clarified those comments, going into a bit more detail about the band’s current state of business affairs.
First, Pete’s initial comments that ignited the current brouhaha. Telling the ‘The KiddChris Show‘ for WEBN that the band’s new album, Niratias, completed their contract with Epic Records, he said:
“Contracts are a bitch, and we’ve signed some raw ones. And we need to start trying to make some money off of our catalog, which is 10 albums deep, plus all the side stuff. We haven’t made any money off of record sales, album sales. It’s all gone to the major labels. A lot of people make money off of us; we just don’t make money the way the deals are structured.”
Pete’s comments are very specific — no money off of album sales specifically, and record deals suck — but I can understand why a fan who doesn’t know how things work could take that the wrong way.
Enter Pete in a new interview with Two Doods Reviews to clarify, as well as explaining that the band harbors no ill will towards anyone at their label (a cool aside):
“We didn’t say how much money we’ve made in anything except for we haven’t made any money from album sales, which is true. We’ve done very well on all the other parts of the business, which is great. And that seems to be what’s happened with the industry, is that it’s kind of like the industry knows that touring and merch and publishing and things like that are their own thing, so they’re, like, ‘Because of that, we’re gonna take everything else. So when it comes to your albums, you give us nine albums, and you’ll get nothing for it.’ The album becomes a promotional tool. And I think that that is something that is surprising.
“There’s a lot of details — ins and outs and everything — there. Long story longer, the reality is had you not made that deal when you did, who knows if it ever would have gone to where it is now? Because we’ve done great in a lot of places — we still do.”
“I think the whole thing with Pete saying that, about how we haven’t made any money on albums, is more about letting people know how it works when you sign away your masters for 29 years. That’s really what it is. And if you can give a little bit of info out to somebody out there who’s, like, maybe on the fence about signing this major label deal but they’re doing really well on their own, promoting their own thing… It all depends on what’s out there and what you’re able to do on your own.
“There are some great artists who have done a really good job promoting themselves and have been able to keep all the control. And that’s great too. And that’s the other side of it too — you can use the major label to get it out there and to do what you’re gonna do and then transition into a situation where you have more control.
“The reality is, with Epic Records, where we’ve been for 20 years, we have a lot of control; they’ve been very good about letting us do almost whatever we want, and supportive. But [in] 20 years, we’ve had eight different [label] presidents, nine different A&R people. There’s no person at Epic that’s responsible for us not making money. Everyone there, I’m sure, wants us to make money. It’s just not the model that exists.
“And they’ve been supportive. And we have good people there that have done a lot of work. And I think that, unfortunately, some of those people will probably be disappointed to hear that, but all you have to do is put yourself in anyone’s shoes. Somebody who’s an inventor and goes out and develops this fantastic engine that saves five miles a gallon for a super airliner and he spends his life’s work doing it, and then, at the end of it, he gets zero for it. It’s, like, well, he’s probably entitled to something. And maybe someday we will make something from it.”
Pete later added:
“People don’t understand how the major label record deal works. Just the standard deal is that the artist pays for everything — marketing, promotion, radio promotion, videos; the artist pays for every single thing. It goes against their record sales.
“If you are a major pop artist, the label might spend millions of dollars to promote your music, and that money comes out of your share of the record sales. So if your share is 20 percent, your 20 percent pays for all the marketing — the millions of dollars. So until it gets paid back, you’re in a negative situation.”
Congratulations if you made it this far… you now understand more about record contracts than your average Chevelle fan!
Niratias came out last month. Jam it below.
[via The PRP]