Cults’ Brian Oblivian On Bad Indie Label Deals and Why He’s Glad To Be On A Major

image from ecx.images-amazon.comBrian Oblivan of the duo Cults may release their records on Columbia, but he and his partner have cultivated a very indie/underground image and fanbase. In fact, Oblivian is not only happy to be signed with the legacy major label; he's openly critical of the "bandits" that he says run indie labels.

"I like to think that what we get from being on a record label is, number one, smart people," Oblivian told Spin. Everyone who works there is really cool and professional, and not druggy party people like so many people in
image from userserve-ak.last.fmthe industry. And we get more money up front, so we get to go into nice studios and futz around for months at a time.

"I know indie bands that are really successful who can barely afford more than three weeks in a studio. They can't make music videos, which is a huge thing our label helps us out with. I have a chip on my shoulder," he continues. "I feel like a lot of smaller indie labels are giving bands really bad deals and robbing them. You see a lot of labels still give a band a $40,000 advance, which seems like a lot of money, but these days, you split all your money with the label. An indie band ends up in a Hyundai commercial and makes 100 grand, and the label is like "Welp, fuck you." All these bands are trading their cool points for cash, and [the labels are] making out like bandits."

Publishing Too

"A lot of labels won't sign you unless you sign a publishing deal, too. It's become really bleak, because people are so desperate for attention and validation that they'll just sign it over. It's like the new '60s. We had a publishing deal."

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  1. Yep, because as a small indie record label WE’RE the ones with the leverage to screw you out of your publishing/advertising/appearances revenue, NOT those major labels (you know, the ones who are always advocating for artist rights and signing deals that split royalties 50%/50%)

  2. This guy is delusional! In 20 years of being a music industry professional and producer, I have never heard such BS! I can name at least 30 bands that were screwed by major labels without trying. I cannot think of too many independents that have done this.

  3. Dudes – only a few months ago my band was signed to an “indie” on the basis of a 360 deal inc meagre publishing rights (70/30) AND 40% net live earnings, and this was just to the singer/songwriter chap, from which he still had to pay his band. Accept the simple fact that some indies LOVE a new artist ballsqueezer contract.

  4. Actually, nothing about small companies or small labels are holy per se. It is possible to be both “a floor wax and a dessert topping” (points if you know the ref!). Not all indie labels are really “indie”. They just say they are to be “cool” trojan horses, okay? So… forget the size of the company and look at the actual people and the actual deals. Be smart. Keep your eye upon the donut, and not on the hole.

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