In Search of...: The (not so) Secret Diary of a Band

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Hold did you record in the 5th best recording studio in the world WITHOUT a record deal?

In the Woodroom at Real World
As I mentioned in the previous entry, we recorded 11 songs last year at Real World Studios. The focus of the band at the moment, and this blog, is finding the best way to release these recordings, as an album, hopefully in the spring of 2012. What I didn't explain is how we got there in the 1st place.

Traditionally, a band would have been "signed" by a record contract, under which the label would have put up the money (possibly in the form of an advance) for the artist to record, produce and ultimately release an album. This album is then the property of the label, who can decide it needs changing or discarding altogether, as well as making most of the decisions regarding the strategy for putting it out.

We currently own pretty much all of our record. Instead of the above model, we funded the project through a mixture of a form of sponsorship and good faith and belief in the band. Oh, and we spent pretty much all the money the band had saved over the previous couple of years!

The sponsorship came from Bowers and Wilkins (the speaker company). They have a long relationship with Real World and Peter Gabriel in particular, and every year they support all sorts of artists in different ways, in return for limited exclusive use of their music for their "Society of Sound" subscribers. For us, this support manifested itself in the form as a generous donation towards our studio costs.

The good faith and belief came predominantly from our producer Steve Osborne. Having been turned on to the band by Real World Publishing (who administrate our publishing), he offered us a deal whereby there was no upfront charges, but instead he would get a greater number of 'points' on the record, or % split of the income it would hopefully generate through sales, use on TV and film etc.

It also came from other, less obvious places though. Because while there were financial costs to the band, the commitment to decamping to Wiltshire for a month had to also get the approval of partners, bosses and others. The fact is that, whilst it's nice to think of a band as a gang, separate from the world, we're in fact 5 guys with lives and dependants and people that rely on us. What was perhaps most affirming about the whole thing, was the support we did get in this department. This band has meant so much to all of us that all the other strands of our lives inevitably get drawn in to it. My boss comes to gigs, Ben's Mum is regularly our hotelier and Oscar is arguably our youngest fan. To know that we had this support was invaluable, but also made us doubly determined to make the most of our time, because it wasn't just us sacrificing things like money and time, but people with nothing material to benefit from any Urusen success were moving big and small mountains to ensure we made it happen.

The next 6 months will in one, ultimately crude way, determine how worthwhile those sacrifices were. Speaking personally, it was one of the best months of my life, and more musically rewarding than anything I've ever done. The band feel pretty much the same. We are all immensely proud of what we achieved, and have a bank of shared memories that we will keep forever. But we never went in to it purely for the experience. In my next entry, I will bring you inside our current head space, getting the music we made into you, the public's, ears, heads and hearts!

As part of our arrangement with B&W, Ben put together a rather splendid short film about our time at Real World for their website, which you can watch it below.

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