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SWIMMING UP$TREAM WITHOUT A PADDLE
There's This Band, See, and Somebody Wants to Sign Them, and...
By Rodel Delfin

UPSTREAM EXPERIMENT, PART TRES: The recent derby for upstream rights for Fueled By Ramen band The Academy Is . . . is a clear example of the heightened attention the industry is giving such arrangements. And its an indication of how major label A&R is evolving in todays business climate. As the term upstream becomes commonplace in music-biz conversations, even dopes like us are getting a clearer picture with what it actually means after talking to a couple music attorneys--Peter Lewit and David Chidekel, to be exact, who both have recently negotiated upstream deals. Though the arrangements may vary, they say, the core idea remains the same--major makes deal with indie label and artist for rights to move artist to the major when said artists indie record hits a predetermined sales mark. The sales threshold varies from deal to deal, of course, but its typically around 50k or so. Simple enough? The upside for the indie is that their record(s) gain broadened distribution and will hopefully be worked as a priority through one of the major independent distribution systems (ADA, RED, Caroline, and soon, UMG's Fontana). In some deals, the major gives the indie cash for marketing and artist development, and the indie often gets major-label help with radio, video and retail at the national level once the artists records warrant it. In some cases, the artist may even get an advance when they upstream. Sometimes, an upstream agreement may entail a 50/50 joint venture between the major and the indie for upstreamed albums. And albums can even be setup to not be cross-collateralized (i.e. the major can't collect monies owed on album 1 from monies earned by album 2). We won't bore you with the finer contractual details. The upside for the major is obvious: Its cost-effective. First, it allows the major to get in early with an artist and avoid expensive bidding derbies (e.g. Taking Back Sunday or Thursday) and the heavy cost of breaking a new act. A dollar spent by labels such as Equal Vision, Fueled By Ramen or Trustkill goes a lot farther than the same dollar spent by a major. Second, the major gets the benefit of working with people at the indie level, who understand their particular music culture. Several majors have actually made use of this particular advantage via downstream arrangements, whereby newly signed major-label acts with small followings get worked through a sister indie to give the impression that the act is an independent artist, thus fostering their grassroots development. So, in theory, it all sounds good, but what are the potential disadvantages and pitfalls? Tune in next week . . . NEWS TO USE: Lots of East Coast chatter over the Mike Selverne-repped The Veronicas. The Australian act, composed of 19-year old twins, apparently has hit songs on their demo. The group is also repped by the Engine Room, which is the Aussie company responsible for The Vines. Word on the street is that weasels are going ga-ga over the twins, who reportedly already have seven-figure offers on the table. . . On the pub tip, the purchase of DreamWorks Publishing is rumored to be going down any minute. The two suitors said to still be in play are former Warner Music exec Rob Dickens and Cherry Lane Publishing. The deal is rumored to be worth 40-50 million clams. Whats next for DreamWorks Pub execs Michael Badami and Leotis Clyburn? . . . BUZZIN: The Vacation, Melee and Josh Partington . . . Hit me up: [email protected]

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