“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well I have others.” – Groucho Marx
Let’s face it: creative types rarely get to write their own ticket. Once you’re finished with that novel, that sculpture, that album, the people footing the bill get final say if you expect to get paid.
An example: in the late 1990s, 10,000 Maniacs was recording again after the departure of their original lead singer, Natalie Merchant. Geffen Records listened to the recordings for their first album with Mary Ramsey, Love Among the Ruins, and said, “We’re going to do a remix, you need to record one cover, and give us another song, because we don’t hear a hit here.”
So, the album was remixed, giving it a dancier feel than their usual rock and roll fare, they covered Roxy Music’s “More Than This,” and they wrote “Rainy Day” on the fly. Of course, they could have said no, but breach of contract, all that money to pay back, and no album, so…
Now, the album still works, somehow, at least for me and other fans, but the band was bitter over the whole ordeal for a long time.
Geffen dropped them after that, and later they recorded another album on Bar/None. After the death of their lead guitarist, Robert Buck, they took a long time to get to their latest effort, Music from the Motion Picture. This time, they funded it through Kickstarter, and are doing it their way. They are much happier these days, they say.
So, was the label wrong? They were paying for the studio time, the promotion, and the distribution. Don’t they have every right to give an opinion on the final product? What is reasonable, and how far is too far?
Blogger’s note: I know most of you are writers, but I used this example for a few reasons. First, 10,000 Maniacs are still one of the best bands in the world. Yes, they are. Shut up, Jim. You’re wrong. Second, I’m a frustrated musician. I just never had the discipline to be any good at it. Plus, I’m a terrible singer. Third, it’s nice to mix things up, no?
Anyway, my Youtube offering is the latest single from the Maniacs, “I Don’t Love You, Too.” Great title, great song.
See you next week.