From Record Deal Back to Indie
Have you ever had one of those moments when you thought, ‘this could be a dream come true!’?
In the music biz, we’re often conditioned to believe that a dream come true is getting the coveted ‘record deal.’ It suggests recognition and a leg up to greater success, which to me mostly means getting to do my thing, with more support.
So in 2012 I signed a deal with the Spectra Jazz label (part of the Spectra Music Group) in the U.S.
The guy who signed me, director of operations for Spectra Jazz, was very enthusiastic about my CD Para Ti, saying it was an elegant, timeless work of art. He sincerely believed in my music for its original sound, which is neither jazz nor flamenco nor latin, although it has all of those elements.
We worked on a U.S. based line-up for tours and started getting some great press. So far so good… then, he suddenly left the company. He told me to talk to Bobby Collins, CEO of the label, but he seemed too distracted to bother with this artistic project in far-away-Spain.
No problem, I said… just give me the rights back. Un-sign me. Release me from the contract. That’s all I asked. I called countless times, leaving messages on the voice mail of each department listed. They didn’t return my calls or answer my emails for over two years.
I noticed that they had copyright claims on some of the tracks I’d uploaded to Youtube, and discovered that they’d used The Orchard as their distributer, so I contacted them. At first I got no response, but I kept trying. Finally, last month, they answered my email and said they’d requested a ‘take down’, which has now been completed.
According to my contract with Spectra, they were to deliver quarterly reports, which never materialized. I never saw a dime, and they refused to share their accounting records with me. Although they breached our contract on several points, I didn’t want to incur any more legal fees, so I let it go. I’ve since put the album back up on digital platforms on my own as an independent.
Looking back, I did my part correctly. Co-writer agreements were signed and songs were properly registered. The deal was approved by a well known music law firm in Vancouver. I paid all the legal fees and did my homework. Still, the music business is a shaky one.
We keep moving forward. Artists have an intrinsic thirst for the process of creation. During the time that Para Ti was out of my hands, I wrote another album (Sangria Jam, soon to be released). As I wait for the design work and details to be put in place, I’m gathering ideas for the next album. I think the moral of the story is to keep informed as the business changes, don’t get pushed around, stay in the creative flow as much as possible, and trust that it’ll all work out in the end.