More On Magnatune
Had a real nice phone call with John Buckman, the owner of Magnatune tonight regarding my various concerns expressed in this blog entry. I probably can't remember everything we talked about, but I now know that Magnatune is trying very enthusiastically to promote itself and the artists on the label, hence the 50/50 split and the 5 year deal. The 50/50 split is both philisophical (ie. it's a partnership between label and artist) and to cover costs. The 5 year deal is mostly to make sure that when Magnatune prints up compilations and merchandise that the artists don't yank permission away from them, rendering all of that stuff worthless. Which seems pretty understandable to me. He did say something about modifying the contract to 1 year either from now on or upon the artist's request, I can't remember due to being partially brain dead.
He told me they're most likely going to put a list of the latest promotional/marketing events and items online so that while nothing will be guaranteed contractually, the fussy worried artists like me can have a better understanding of what's been going on in Magnatune promotion-wise and understand the situation a bit better and why you're agreeing to some of the things you're agreeing to. I think that's a pretty good idea.
John explained the Creative Commons to me a bit and I think I feel slightly less confused. I at least got the impression he understands it and that it's somehow useful in licensing, so that seems all right by me.
He confirmed the concerns about the non-exclusive deal keeping artists from signing an exclusive deal but added two very good points: a) Major labels are very accustomed to not owning the previous recordings of artists. Like Nirvana and Sub Pop, etc. and b) Unlike indie labels, Magnatune doesn't own the songs of the artist, the artist has just licensed those particular recordings to them for a period of time. So if for some reason you can't work something out with Magnatune and the major label, you're within your rights to re-record the album and then you have exclusive control over that recording. With an indie, they own the songs and you are total-E boned.
Anyhow, I'm sure there was more and I hope I didn't get any of the things he said wrong. Basically in a nutshell: John seemed like a real good guy with a lot of cool ideas and a passion for what he's doing. I'm really looking forward to being on board and helping out in any way I can. Also he and his wife said nice things about my music and anyone who likes my music is OK by me.