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Lessons Learned: Spose and the Record Deal

Band performing liveRecord labels convince naive kids they’re rock stars. Then they “cast” artists in a role to fit what they need, they write songs by committee, and their whole world revolves around the “second single.”

Now before all of you in the recording industry start writing nasty comments and emails to me, I’m not the one who said all that!

Former Universal Republic artist Spose said he learned some great lessons from being signed to a label; and the comments above are his, about some of those lessons.

So does this mean a record deal is bad? Not at all!

I read these comments by Spose when music industry analyst and critic Bob Lefsetz pointed them out in his article Odds & Ends a few months ago, along with this comment, “This is the best non-sour grapes delineation of what it means to make a deal with a major I’ve ever read. It illustrates that first and foremost major labels are about money, not art, and you should never forget this.”

Lefsetz and Spose both point out something I’ve always said… the record industry generates income by selling records (of course!). But for the artist, those recordings shouldn’t be the “be all and end all” of their career. Those recordings are really promotional tools for their live show — and the live show is where the artist will generate income!

Of course there are a few artists whose recording will “win the lottery” with a hit. But for every artist who writes & records the hit song, there are millions of artists who make nothing (or virtually nothing) from their recordings.

Is that all bad news? Not necessarily.

Spose says his #1 lesson learned was that he didn’t require a label to connect with fans and make a decent income. He has found that with a small, loyal fan base, he can make the music he wants to make and still have a profit from sales that will support his needs. Of course, he had a hit song to begin with and that helped him gain some notoriety. That’s part of the reason he can sell a lot of records. But even Spose continues to tour with a live show, and no doubt that’s because he’s found it’s a great way to connect in a “high touch” way with his audience.

Here’s my encouragement to those of you who haven’t had a hit song and sold millions of records: you have your live show — what you do onstage — and that’s what will generate most of your income.

Your live show — what you do onstage — is what will give you the opportunity to share your passion and love of music with others.

Your live show — what you do onstage — is what will give you the opportunity to emotionally connect with others, to encourage, and to transform their thinking with the message you are bringing.

Your live show — what you do onstage — is where your fulfillment as an artist can be realized!

So, how important do you think it is to learn the fundamentals, design, plan, and develop your live show?

Tom Jackson

Tom is uniquely talented and skilled at transforming an artist's live show into a magical experience for the audience; helping artists at every level create a live show that is engaging and memorable, teaching them to exceed their audiences' expectations and to create fans for life. Tom has taught indie and major artists of every genre. He has worked with Taylor Swift, Le Crae, Home Free, The Tenors, Shawn Mendes, The Band Perry, Francesca Battistelli, Jars of Clay, & many more. Tom also teaches at colleges, conferences and events worldwide.

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Greenroom Comments

  1. Makes sense…I mean you have celebrities who do NOTHING but just appear and that sells so why does the media fixate on them when so many others out there are talented enough to have the lights shine on them? Which is why alot of artists need to up the ante and make an impression live!

  2. Glad to hear it, Gregory! If you’re not on our email list yet, we’d love to have you subscribe to our weekly tips and advice to keep up with everything Tom and his team teach!

  3. Gregory Frye says:

    Fantastic advice. I’m enjoying all of the posts/videos that shown up on my Facebook account.

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