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New Rolling Stone issue with KISS

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marvin   

You would think that the record company and management would have the artists' best interests in hand, but music history especially in the 50's, 60's and 70's, is littered with examples of bad deals.

When the Eagles were courted by Geffen and the new company that he was putting together, Asylum Records, they signed on a 'hippie idealism' belief that Asylum would look out for the band. Geffen, the Eagles, J Mitchell, etc, were all young, all friends, the feeling was that they would grow together artistically and financially. That didn't last long.

The band eventually cut ties with Geffen, and in the 1980's, Henley sued Geffen. For a couple of people who started out wanting the same thing in their careers, a career based on friendship, Henley and Geffen have very nasty things to say about each other today. 

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MikeD   

Wow, I always thought CAM was an acronym for your publishing or something soley related to you, Eric. Possibly CArmen Music. Never knew of a middleman company! Back to the thread topic, I read that G. Harrison was nearly bankrupt because of his partner in Handmade Films embezzled millions from the company. That was the main reason he reunited in the '90's for the Anthology projects.

Good book entitled You Never Give me your Money.

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CAM.USA was the American branch of (what they said) the 16th largest publishing company in the world, with offices in every country. The head guy was one Vittorio Bennedetto, a charming rogue if ever there was one. Jimmy and Donny Ienner were, as far we knew, employees.  The company was based in Italy, and run by a "Mr Campi", hence the CAM. bit.

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On 4/4/2014 at 3:30 PM, Eric Carmen said:

The common denominator of this topic is "business." Raspberries signed something called a "Production Contract", with CAM. USA ( who immediately became our publisher, as well as making Jimmy Ienner our producer ) that essentiallsaid CAM would pay the costs of recording ( as opposed to the record label ) and we would then essentially be "partners", splitting all royalties from recording 50/50 with them. Then CAM got the money from Capitol, but we were not signed DIRECTLY to Capitol.

We were signed to CAM Productions, who would then supply "our services" to Capitol Records. That type of deal is known to be the most horrible, immoral deal, ever, in the history of the music business. We were young, and we just didn't know any better, and we didn't have a savvy entertainment lawyer to negotiate on our behalf. We paid dearly for our naivety. 

I've come to understand that business people sleep like babies at night, while knowing they are screwing artists. Their thinking is "If you were dumb enough to sign it, it's YOUR fault." Nice.

Man, that totally sucks out loud. Y'all were kids. That ticks me off.

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If I recall my Beatles facts correctly (and my apologies if I confuse it — it's been a LONG day), management was part of the rift at the end. Paul, if I recall correctly, wanted some of Linda's family (I'm thinking brother, but I could be wrong) to manage, while the other three -- with a BIG push from John -- opted for Allen Klein. 

I *THINK*.

Cheryl

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James   

I am always for the artist.  Having said that, my objective side asks myself what's the value of each "step" toward putting a song into the "hands" of a consumer and getting that consumer to part with his money in order to own a copy of that song....AND to do this to a large enough degree where the artists can live well off their music.

There are many who write good songs, play a mean instrument and can perform live. There aren't many who can do this at the level that Eric Carmen, Burton Cummings etc can (there are very few at most)...but there are many many musicians who can write/play music as well as most of those who "made it", IMHO.

But to take a raw written song, do the construction work to convert it into a top notch recording, create the album package, finance the project, take financial risk. organize a tour and all the promotion, get the song into the hands of those (disc jockeys, writers, etc) who can promote it, distribute the song, handle all the legal and accounting work etc etc etc. ....

....in sum  I'm talking about the business side of it...the work required in order to  get the song into the hands of the masses, collect their money and do this on a large enough scale where everyone involved can make a good living.  I'd say this is a very hard thing to do and those who can do it have a skill that is worth a lot.  A lot.

It seems to me when we really think it out we probably (way) undervalue the work that goes into the business side of things.

IMHO..

James

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Kirk   

In the Godfather, it was a horse's head...with CAM U.S.A., you wake up and your sheets are stained with Raspberries!

"Hey Eric, you know that song 'Sleep With Me'...how 'bout changing that to 'Sleeps With The 'berries'!"

Signed,

Vitto 

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There are so many ways I could go on a tangent with what you wrote Kirk...

I'll stay on E's main topic of "business" though.  

Tom Hanks' character in You've Got Mail says "if anyone has a problem, the answer can be found in The Godfather."  

;)

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There is no question that in order to succeed, you need the manager, the agent, the label and everyone else to be doing their job. The compensation is pretty much standard, except for the label. 15% goes to the manager. 10% goes to the agent.

In some cases, when you have a super, high powered attorney, even they can work on a percentage ( 10% ). Record labels all have three sets of contracts for artists. If you're a "rookie act," and don't have an entertainment lawyer representing you, you get "Contract #1". That's the one that's 400 pages long, and contains hundreds of ways for the label to screw you, and take all your money.

If you've had some success, and you have an entertainment lawyer, you get "Contract #2." That one is 350 pages, because the label assumes your lawyer understands SOME of industry "standards," and he would probably not agree to "Contract #1, and would cross out things he knew were just plain ridiculous.

And finally, if you've become successful enough to afford to have the "high powered, entertainment lawyer" representing you, you get "Contract #3". That one is only 250 pages. That's because the label knows YOUR attorney knows darn near all the ways the label has built into the other two contracts to screw you, and they know, if they sent him either of the first two contracts, he'd simply cross out the 150 pages that were completely absurd, and that allowed the label to screw you 200- different ways. 

However, even with the high-powered entertainment lawyer representing you, labels STILL have a myriad of ways to get you. I've heard stories about a certain major label, printing up hundreds of thousands of albums, by major artists, making them exactly the same, in every way, right down to the same packaging as the REAL album, but leaving off their logo, or any mention of the label, and dumping them as "bootlegs" all over Asia.

The artist has no way of tracking that kind of thing, the label sells the albums, and simply keeps ALL the money, since, technically, those albums don't exist. The artist gets paid nothing for a "bootleg." There are, unfortunately, a hundred more ways for labels to screw you, beyond this one.

And, if you ever suspected that they weren't playing straight with you, and sued them, their in-house lawyers will make sure to drag the case out for five or six years, at which point your career is over ( See: George Michael ).

I've also heard that some labels keep three sets of "books" for "accounting purposes." One set is for the artists, in case they ever tried to do an audit, the second set is for the label, and the third set is for the stockholders.

It's a very tangled web.

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marvin   

Yes at times the management can be the saving grace. In the Lewisohn book, "The Beatles: All These Years Vol.1 TUNE IN", there are revealing quotes from Bob Wooler (Liverpool dj and Beatles associate), Neil Aspinall, and even John Lennon, that if Brian Epstein hadn't happened when he did, the band would have likely broken up. The band become jaded and bored with what was happening musically. Epstein had the faith in them to want to be their manager and to push them toward new avenues.

On a financial and career-expanding level, the best thing that happened to McCartney was meeting Linda and her family of lawyers, and John meeting Yoko, someone who was very business-savvy.

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MikeD   

When you are in your twenties, all you care about is your "art" & not the business side of it. You trust that people have your best interests in mind. Reality hits later. Give credit to Paul & Gene fom Kiss, they learned the game and took control of their careers. Eric, I give you a lot of credit for hanging in there career-wise starting with the lack of priority from Capital, band dissention, Clive's intrusive nature, Gus D., & so much more they we don't know about. Do things on your own terms now.

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Many rears ago, I got a "tip-off" from a certain employee at CAM. We were riding in a cab and he turned around from the front seat and said "You should really ask to see 'the books'". He was telling me that there were things going on "accounting-wise" that I should look into. I immediately told Vittorio that I wanted to see the books.

His response was "Why do you want to do that? Heric, ( he spoke with a Roman accent ) do you need-a some-a money? How much? $75,000? Heric, you know I only want-a for you to be sussess-a-full."  Shortly thereafter, I asked my agent to find me an attorney so I could sue CAM. He said "What kind of an attorney do you want?" I told him I wanted "Wyatt Earp in a business suit." He gave me the name of an attorney, Elliot Hoffman, who had a waxed handlebar mustache, and rode to work on a motorcycle. I immediately liked him.

One day he told me a story that had been told to him by one of his clients, Livingston Taylor, James's brother. He said, over the years, Livingston had come up with a "theory" about how to read and negotiate a contract. He called it "The Mad Dog Theory Of Contract Reading." It went something like this: "When a label wants to sign you, ( or a manager, publisher etc ) they sit across the table from you and smile, and tell you everything you want to hear. They're going to make you successful, and they're going to "protect" you, and they're going to get your songs into movies, and on and on, and, all the while they are smiling at you, and nodding, and agreeing with you, and doing everything to allay all of your concerns. And because you're an artist, you WANT to believe them!

Livingston said, "When you find yourself in that situation, you should look across the table at the smiling man, and picture a "mad dog, frothing at the mouth". And when you read that contract you need to keep the "mad dog" in your mind, and understand that the "smiling man" across the table will do everything he can to steal your money and ruin your life and career IF YOU LET HIM. And THAT is how you must look at every contract.  The "mad, frothing dog" who would leap across the table and devour you, not the smiling man saying nice things, is who you are REALLY negotiating with. And if you are silly enough to believe that the "mad dog" will NOT devour you, and you miss something in the contract that gives the dog that opportunity, he most certainly will."

And THAT'S the truth.

Shortly after we filed our lawsuit against CAM and Vittorio, and served them a subpoena requesting the books, CAM's offices had a very convenient fire, and the books were burned beyond recognition. And then, their accountant had a stroke, before we could depose her. She couldn't talk or answer questions.

It took eight long years of fighting, and a hundred thousand dollars or more, before we could get them to court. My younger brother, Fred, ended up representing me, because, eventually Elliot Hoffman determined that, even if we won, he suspected that Vittorio would be "uncollectable." He was sure that Vittorio had probably put all the money in his wife's name, and transferred it overseas.

I was in New York for depositions just days before we were to go to court, and, at lunchtime, Fred and I went downstairs to a restaurant that was in the office building where the depositions were taking place. We were sitting at our table when in walked Vittorio, who smiled and nodded "Hello" as he passed us. I just glared at him. He had residences in New York and Rome, and his son was going to private school. and I was living an a small apartment in a Cleveland suburb because he had stolen all my royalties for years.

At some point, my brother got up and walked across the room to where Vittorio was standing, waiting to pay his bill. Vittorio looked at Fred and said "What does-a your brother want-a from me?" And Fred replied "He wants your blood."

Vittorio looked shocked, but I'm quite sure that he had also been informed by his attorney that, if he lost in court, he could go to jail.

The next day, Vittorio and his attorneys called and asked us what we wanted. I said I want 100% of all the publishing rights for all of my songs back. He could keep whatever he had stolen, up to then.

He settled that day, avoiding court, and I got all my copyrights back.

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birdy   

I would like to add that I finally decided to be a good girl and ordered the "Essential". Honestly, I am piss poor and haven't bought a CD in a long time. Furthermore, I'm not really into all the ballads. Many of the songs I will be hearing for the first time. (Not that I would know how to judge the quality to the originals, anyway.) I feel that many "stars" don't deserve my money when I am barely surviving. But I like you because you are genuine. Your music is good but your personality shines even brighter.

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MikeC   

KISS will be on The Tonight Show, with Jimmy Fallon, friday, April 11th. I  don't know what songs they will play, if they play at all then. With Anne Hathaway, tuesday, Kevin Costner wednesday. Stevie Nicks and Dave Grohl thursday, There is a huge contest by KISS to who can tell them how to celebrate their epic 40th anniversary, With money to be paid to the winner of the contest, in 500 words or less.

When KISS plays, they are playing with The Brand name in mind. Now the CEO of The Hall says they are not considering the whole body of work, by KISS. This means the multiplatinum albums. Each new member has played for 10, and 20 years, except for a five year time, when the originals came back.

Here's what I believe Ace and the CEO have missed, using sports and doctors as a comparison: And Ace, who is finishing his new album,  should be promoting music, and the band, just like former sports players give workout clinics, on how to play the game.

If they like a certain professional sports team, the former players are considered to be members of the same team, with the same brand name. Even if the first group played 10 years, and the next group played for five years.  The newer players are current members, of the same brand name team, from way back. If someone was the first opthamologist doctor, that next doctor is equal to the former.  And maybe the newer doctor invents   something, unlike the original member. But, they are still members of the same vocation. If you played team sports, you were a member of a team from  the same alma mater as a current team member.

They ought to buy jackets for the induction, with the current members showing the inside of their jackets with a photo, showing they played for KISS, when Gene and Paul walk up to the stage. And signed, KISS Member, Forever.

They just put on a big show at their first AFL game. Over 12,000 fans. 4500 more than the average AFL attendence. Over 300 NFL players have played in the AFL League, making it a top notch league. With Steel Panther playing, guitarist Nita Strauss singing The Anthem, and Lemmy. Their team was lowered from the ceiling. Dancing cheer leaders in bikinis, during breaks in the game. Lasers, etc.

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MikeC   

And, the question to ask, in regards to sports, is, 'Has there ever been former athletes from the same sports team name and brand, put in their SportsHall Of Fame, and a player or players from the same team, decades later?

Profoundly, the answer is, 'Yes"

But why?

Because the latter player earned everything he did, like the earlier athelete.

And newer KISS members earned everything that their name is attached to. They played on multiplatinum records. And they earned it, all by themselves. The former members didn't play on their albums. The newer albums give them credit. And, promoting the brand name, just like any athelete does, by carrying the team name from fifty years more or less.

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MikeD   

Eric, after reading your fascinating account regarding CAM, just wondering if you were ever tempted to address this in song. Your "venting" song like "How do you Sleep?" or "Steel and Glass".

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MikeC   

That was fantastic, Eric. It was the greatest earlier move in your career..

And, Ace agreed with Paul of KISS- that some bands with replacement members have been allowed into The Hall, while others haven't.

And, I don't think that Ace has publishing or patent rights on latter KISS products or it's images. So, he couldn't go out and play as a  KISS cover band, since I think he doesn't own that brand name. KISS always plays as KISS, extending their image and songs, of earlier and latter times. I have never heard of them playing, currently, as a KISS cover band.

Every professional goes by their brand or vocation name. Like a doctor, or business. Just because someone isn't in their business anymore still allows that business, brand or doctor to coninue, into the future, also.

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