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Author Topic: indie rock vs. major labels.  (Read 4508 times)

j.hall

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indie rock vs. major labels.
« on: May 03, 2004, 09:58:08 am »

all right, i've been engaged in a really great discussion (privately) about a particular band and their potential major label appeal.

something that has come up seems more universal for indie bands, then just this one we are talking about.

the discussion is this:

i've been working with a band i think has what it takes (the whole package) to be on a major and potentially be HUGE, at the least they should have little trouble getting an independent label to sign them.

something that has been "soup de jour" is editing drums to flauless perfection and auto tuning vocals for the same result.  two things i find rather disgusting, and pretty much unnecessary as we are humans and mistakes are just part of the game.

it's been suggested to me that i do both of these things to this band before i even think of submitting the material to any majors.  

my comments have been, "i don't even hear the drum prolems" and "the vocals have character, why change that"

the other side is saying, "that isn't the point at all, the point is that the mooks sit around and listen to perfectly edited songs with auto tuned vox day in and day out, you xstand no chance if you stick out"

these aren't word for word quotes.....

anyway, the end agreement we had was that, maybe the "ideals" of most indie rockers is what will keep them from going to a major in this day and age of editing.

what do you think?
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OTIOSE

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2004, 10:54:59 am »

IMHO all this editing ruins the feel and soul of certain songs.  
If the band wants to be johny-come-lately rock stars then maybe this should be done to appeal to the majors. I think standing out can be a good thing. I like recordings with some mistakes, fluctuations in tempo, slightly off tune maybe, and perhaps even a little noise. These things can be very interesting, and can make you feel a certain way when listening. If you take away all the human elements of music you might as well do electronica, or rock out to modem noise.

Does the band have an opinion on this? Are they artists or pop music wanna-bes?



Jer
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Fibes

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2004, 11:16:58 am »

If you are discussing demos it's a sticky wicket. Some mooks wanna hear the raw talent and unpolished foundation that they can shove their agenda into, others want the whole package like a bag of instant grits, just add hot water. Tough call, just make their essence shine through stongly. Just my .02.
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Eddie Matthews

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2004, 03:51:46 pm »

j.hall wrote on Mon, 03 May 2004 08:58



the other side is saying, "that isn't the point at all, the point is that the mooks sit around and listen to perfectly edited songs with auto tuned vox day in and day out, you xstand no chance if you stick out"




This doesn't make sense to me. I thought the whole point is to "stick out" and sound different.  Otherwise you end up in the "circular file" with all the other crap.

It's worse than I thought, I guess.

I'm with you on this one, J.
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Zoesch

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2004, 09:50:47 pm »

Delta-9 wrote on Tue, 04 May 2004 05:51

This doesn't make sense to me. I thought the whole point is to "stick out" and sound different.  Otherwise you end up in the "circular file" with all the other crap.

It's worse than I thought, I guess.

I'm with you on this one, J.


Which in my limited experience with majors happens to be what they want... not to mention the legions of different kids that are all the same that want another clone of their recent "in permanent hot topic rotation" CD

My take? Make 'em original, if a major picks them all the better, if an indie picks them at least you know they'll be happier.
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drumsound

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2004, 01:16:44 am »

When you start guesstimating what the mooks will want the music will suffer.  Make the record that the band and you envision.  If it has the goods someone will notice.
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j.hall

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2004, 09:56:18 am »

i think what was trying to be said was:

"if the product doesn't "sort of" fit in the mold, then the mooks will just hit stop and move on"

i don't think i was being advised to aqueeze all the life out of the band, and edit them into creed.  i think the advice was based on the fact that the music is much different then what the mooks are listening to right now (or at least what we might think they are listening to)

i just took it as, "make sure it's in tip top shape since you are already submitting something you know they aren't used to"

my question is......is that even worth it?  or should the band just be represented as they are?

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drumsound

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2004, 02:37:09 pm »

What do they want?  Not just for this record, but for the long term?
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j.hall

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2004, 03:29:52 pm »

for more then 10 people to buy the record and come to shows.

they want to get their "art" out to the masses.  
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beau

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2004, 05:40:22 am »

if the disk is going to be shopped, why not make it as pro/major label/big budget sounding as you can?  the cd represents you as well as them.  if someone at a label hears your work, and they like it, then you may have work for the next few years, just because of that one cd.

peace,

beau
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egg_

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2004, 08:06:01 am »

J.
If I was in the band, and editing/tuning got the sound closer to how it was in my head, then I'd embrace it

j.hall wrote on Tue, 04 May 2004 09:56

should the band just be represented as they are?

I'd say if you can represent the band as they want to be, rather than as they are, everyone will be very happy
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j.hall

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2004, 09:58:55 am »

egg_ wrote on Wed, 05 May 2004 07:06


I'd say if you can represent the band as they want to be, rather than as they are, everyone will be very happy


that's tricky.....at least IMO.

we've been working on this record for a few years now, on and off.  the band is going at this with the idea of, "we'd rather not live with something that isn't right, so we'll just take our time"

we resume working on it this coming monday, and we'll go at it pretty hard till july 1, when they want it done and ready for mastering.

to me, it seems like they are getting exactly what they want out of it, and not just what they "are".

we've re-tracked guitars three times now, re-done all the bass and vocals.  even re-tracked three songs worth of drums.

they want it to be representative of what they do live, but displayed in an "album" sort of way.  

it's a concept record, which makes it even harder to deal with as it has a point as a whole.

we cut all but 3 tunes to a click track.  and while the drummer didn't play perfectly with it......we didn't want that anyway, and i think the fluctuations add human feel to it.  just as long as the band is tight with the drums.

to me, i really don't think i should dive in a edit anything, i think that crosses a line that i haven't been asked to cross.


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spankenstein

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2004, 02:49:52 pm »

I'm against heavy handed editing. Bumbing a couple things here and there isn't abig deal but making sure that everything is perfect is exactly what is wrong with music today.

I listened to a Syd Barrett song and there was so much stuff that was off but it didn't matter at all.

I just think if you want perfect drums then you sequence them and don't even bother calling a real drummer. Why get humans in to ruffle it all up.
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drumsound

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2004, 05:58:42 pm »

j.hall wrote on Wed, 05 May 2004 08:58



to me, i really don't think i should dive in a edit anything, i think that crosses a line that i haven't been asked to cross.





Problem solved.
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natpub

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2004, 04:00:08 am »

I have seen both sides of this situation a few times, and I have to support those who emphasize creating what the band wants as a whole, what the individuals in the band want, and what you want as producer/engineer, roughly in that order.

I would not waste time considering what A&R people want, because they certainly aren't. They are concerned with what the buying public wants. If a label rep personally likes your music, that is fine, and will contribute to their support of it. But, at the end of the day, public appeal is paramount, and the only true thing that makes something appeal to the public is that the music is genuinely believed by the people who made it. After that, if the style fits someone's groove, great, you have a new customer:-)

I am often worried to see artists chasing down what they "think" labels want, while the labels are chasing down what they "think" the public wants. This is all putting the cart before the horse, and keeping the artists 2 steps removed from the public.

The artists should be leading, not following.

I am sure that some of the roughest street-sounding rap artists deeply believe their recordings are the "shit," and no one can tell them otherwise. That belief alone can often carry them to success.

Similarly, I am certain that Brittany Spears believes that her recordings are the shit, as do all her host of engineers and producers. I truly feel that their belief in their multimillion dollar stuff is no different from that of that home-recorded rap artist.

At the end of the day, only YOU (band, artists, engineer, producer) have to feel it is a masterpiece. If you do, that will show through. If you do not, it will be immediately obvious. There have been far too many recordings out there with massive commercial success that are technically horrible, to think that you need to plasticize your recordings to make them palettable to a few oversized companies.

My feeling is that recording artists (including producers and engineers) should make great art, and let the business men worry about making great business. Sometimes the rare single person can do both, but usually not.

Just my 2 cents,


-K
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Kurt Thompson
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weihfool

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2004, 06:13:02 pm »

edited by me.  didn't read the whole thread and missed the point of the original question!  duh.
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Ross Hogarth

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2004, 12:46:19 am »

I think that you have to do what needs to be done.
Editing/tuning...whatever you have to do to make a product as good as can be you do BUT there are guys who grid drums and auto tune everything before they even see if it needs it and they are the ones that give god solid production in today's world a bad name.
I agree with the comment someone made about making this piece of work as good as can be and a great indicator of how good you are
AND
More importantly in today's major label world ..SINGLES
I hate to say it but a bonified SINGLE will make any marginal recording and performance sound better.
For you to get past go these days, you have got to make sure that you have songs that can get on the radio in whatever chart/style your band is.
Modern rock or active rock or whatever they are, make sure you feel in your bones that you the goods before you shop your shit. It is sad in some ways but it is the cold hard fact.
Last night I went out and saw Slipknot and even those 9 freaks have some songs that are radio friendly,IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT ...
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brandondrury

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2004, 11:38:04 pm »

If you ask me, you already screwed up!

The band should go with their gut.  They should do whatever the hell they want.  The only people the musicians should be impressing is their fans.  The fact that you already second guessed yourself, means there is a problem.

If these guys are bad asses and their risk / profit assesment looks good enough, a label will pick them up.  I'm not sure how the risk to profit ratio can be altered with auto-tune and plastic drums.

I'm sure the clothes they wear and their hair styles make a bigger difference to the risk / profit ratio.  After all, the majority of people buying the cds are concerned more with image than music anyway.  

In closing, everyone should be what they want to be.  

Brandon

Ross Hogarth

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2004, 11:00:27 am »

brandondrury wrote on Fri, 14 May 2004 20:38

If you ask me, you already screwed up!

The band should go with their gut.  They should do whatever the hell they want.  The only people the musicians should be impressing is their fans.  The fact that you already second guessed yourself, means there is a problem.

If these guys are bad asses and their risk / profit assesment looks good enough, a label will pick them up.  I'm not sure how the risk to profit ratio can be altered with auto-tune and plastic drums.

I'm sure the clothes they wear and their hair styles make a bigger difference to the risk / profit ratio.  After all, the majority of people buying the cds are concerned more with image than music anyway.  

In closing, everyone should be what they want to be.  

Brandon


I agree with some of what you just said and I have to say that complete idealism and the attitude that of go fuck yourself if you don't like it , is just very naive and not realistic if you want to make money and have a career. You can keep your ball and play at home but I do not think that the outside world of the music biz is that forgiving these days. That being said I do agree that selling out is not the answer. For what it's worth, image has always been important. Everybody thinks the Sex Pistols were such anarchists but they had they're own image, even if contrary, to sell.
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The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.

The standard of success in life isn't the things. It isn't the money or the stuff. It is absolutely the amount of joy that you feel.

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j.hall

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2004, 05:33:26 pm »

who said i'm second guessing anything

for all any of you know, the band doesn't even exist.....

this is a discussion that i voluntarily used myself as the "subject"

and i agree with ross.....on some level, no matter what, you have to play the game, or you can take your ball and bat and just go home.

the question still stands, do i take something that has (what i think to be) enormous marketability, and squeeze it through the tiny parameters of what is major label pop nowa days.  or do i keep, again what i think to be, a record full of life and great performances?

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drumsound

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2004, 03:35:06 am »

Pack is up and send it to Brad!
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natpub

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2004, 01:07:18 am »

j.hall wrote on Sat, 15 May 2004 16:33


the question still stands, do i take something that has (what i think to be) enormous marketability, and squeeze it through the tiny parameters of what is major label pop nowa days.  or do i keep, again what i think to be, a record full of life and great performances?




Do both Smile  Print both ways, burn em, send one off first month to whoever, then send version 2 off again the next month Razz

buuuuuut, if you mean to press buncha units, then ya got me there--I guess do whatever is most original.
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Kurt Thompson
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NelsonL

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Re: indie rock vs. major labels.
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2004, 07:37:14 am »

j.hall wrote on Sat, 15 May 2004 14:33


the question still stands, do i take something that has (what i think to be) enormous marketability, and squeeze it through the tiny parameters of what is major label pop nowa days.  or do i keep, again what i think to be, a record full of life and great performances?




If the record is full of life and great performances then its done or very very close.

Squeezing it through the "tiny parameters" of pop will fuck up the vibe. This is some subjective stuff-- but that's your job. You need to find the parameters that are wide enough for you to fit through with your soul intact.

Anyway, I think you're being socratic. I'm pretty sure you've got the answer to this nailed.
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