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"How To Get Ripped Off In The Music Business"

One of the good newer artists asked me this today:

"Will you tell me something about that business of not getting paid?
 How does that work anyway?"

Here's my answer:

Hi, ******.

When our first hit started to break,
the guy representing the record label
handed us a sub-sub-standard contract
and threatened that if we didn't sign it "as is"
they would pull the record and we could just go home.

We were young and had been struggling hard
and they scared the hell out of us.
We signed.

One feature of the contract was
that the record company didn't have to do anything
if they ever didn't feel like it,
but we would stay tied to them, regardless.

After a couple of years,
the guy who had made us sign originally, ripped off the label,
and they stopped putting out our records
after three straight hits.

We had offers from major labels
but the first label wouldn't let us go,
and they wouldn't release our product.
They pulled the rug out from under us at the height of our career.

We had no new releases for almost two years.
We finally had to sign over
all mechanical and publishing royalties to them "forever"
to get away and be able to start recording again.

We finally went with several majors,
including Epic, Columbia, RCA, and Universal.
We put out a lot of our best music after that,
but we never regained our original momentum.

Remember the guy who forced us to sign the first bad contract
and then ripped off the record company?
He had also coerced us into signing him as our manager.

He told our agent to book us a lot
and book us cheap.
Although we were at the top of the Billboard charts,
we ran all over the country for a year and a half,
running up huge road expenses
and getting ridiculously low money.
He sat home and collected his commission.

At this point,
the only income we had left to save us
was our songwriter royalties.
This crook contacted BMI without our knowledge,
told them that we were on the road and needed money,
and got BMI to send my song royalty checks to him.
He forged my name to the checks
and put the money into an account
in a bank owned by a partner of his.

I didn't find out about it until the end of the year
when I called BMI to complain about my yearly statement.
They told me he had the money,
and they sent me xerox copies of the badly forged checks.

Our lawyer tried to get information on the "Jack Blanchard Account",
but the crook's banker refused to give it.

Misty and I tried to think of what to do.
We were going broke and losing everything.

We knew that this bum talked to dozens of music people every day,
and could ruin our reputation,
telling lies about us.

We finally called him up,
told him we had enough evidence to send him to prison,
and that we would use it if he ever slandered us.
He and the president of the record label have since died.

Their families are living on our earnings.

The only pieces of advice I could offer to newer artists are these:
1. Every contract should benefit both parties.
2. Contracts should have an escape clause,
so that if it IS NOT benefiting both parties
it can be dissolved.

Wherever there are talented people doing things
there will be bad people trying to get in on the action.
There are also good people.
One good man from the old days comes to my mind..
Bill Hall, of Hall-Clement Publications.
He was a real friend to Misty and me.

Sometimes it's hard to tell the givers from the takers.

October 14, 2003 Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.

 

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