Our Label Isn’t Paying Us. So We’re Releasing Our Album for Free

The Paper Lions have a problem: they can’t get paid by their label on their latest album, Trophies.

The solution? Release the album for free, and tell your fans all about it.  “We have yet to see a paycheck for a single record sold by them,” the band told fans.  “If you bought our record on Amazon or iTunes, or even at a record store, we didn’t get that money.  We don’t know why. We don’t know if it’s being held somewhere, or if it’s been spent.”

The band told Digital Music News that this is definitely not an unrecouped situation.  “The record deal was straight up distribution with a split on all revenues,” a member told us.  “We fronted all the money for expenses, so there was nothing for the label to recoup.”

But what label, exactly?  The band didn’t disclose, but we tracked this down to MB3 Records, an indie label with worldwide distribution via EMI Distribution and a division of The MuseBox, Inc.  Which is where this got pretty strange, because the president of the MuseBox said they’d had no contact with the band, and there was almost no money (‘$100 in the pipeline’) for them.  “WOW, very interesting,” Musebox CEO  Nadine Gelineau emailed Digital Music News after we informed her of the development. “They completely fell off the radar.  I personally sent their manager about 20 emails and left 10 voicemails and never ever got a return call or email from him or the band. My Canadian staff said the same.”

The deeper we dig into this, the messier it gets.  Even more baffling is that Trophies seems to be yanked from iTunes, and only available as an import on Amazon.  Which sounds like another record label relationship gone horribly wrong (for all sides), and yet another chapter in a long, depressing dossier.

This is what the group (formerly the Chucky Danger Band) recently messaged to its fans while pushing the nuclear button.

Some of you may have noticed that we’ve started doing something that, for us, is a little different. Today, we’d like to tell you why.

In August of 2009, we raised the money to rent a studio, hire a producer, and record Trophies. A few months later, we were approached by a record label that wanted to release Trophies on our behalf. After a period of negotiation, we signed a deal with that company. They released the record in September of 2010, and everything was dandy.

Fast forward to the present: we have yet to see a paycheque for a single record sold by them. If you bought our record on Amazon or iTunes, or even at a record store, we didn’t get that money. We don’t know why. We don’t know if it’s being held somewhere, or if it’s been spent.

We asked ourselves, what do we do now? Hire a lawyer? That would cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. Ultimately, we just want people to hear the music. And in reality, this experience has given us an excuse to do something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.

So we’ve decided to give Trophies away in exchange for your email address. And we feel pretty good about it.

Follow the link, click on “Free Download”, enter your email, and Trophies (with Traveling as a bonus track) is yours for the taking.

Thanks everybody.

PS. We will only use your email addresses to occasionally update you with news about the band. We will never give your email addresses to anyone else.

PPS. If you ever bought Trophies directly from a band member (at a show, from the back of the van, etc.) we did get that money. It was used for gas.

PSPS. People have been offering to donate money. That is very generous. Any money that we take in from this donate button will go directly towards funding our next record.

30 Responses

  1. Strange Friday

    EMI isn’t to blame. Look into MB3 Records & The Musebox Distribution, a division of The Musebox Inc.

  2. Dalt Wisney

    Not sure what’s dumber a shitting asshole or these gents.

  3. Steven Corn (BFM Digital)

    Something is missing here. Who paid for the manufacturing of the CD that’s available as an import? Did the distributor do any co-ops or advertising? Most distributors have a hold back for returns as well as a distribution fee. Or, it could be as simple as the fact that maybe the album earned less than $100 in sales (a typical threshold for issuing payments).

    The point is that who knows what’s happening. THere’s obviously some money somewhere. But if the band never even got a royalty statement, it’s their responsibility to demand one. Then it’s their further responsibility to question it if they don’t think it’s right. So did that happen??

    I send out 550 statements a quarter. If one gets missent or an email gets lost, I always hear about it within a week or two.

    I think that this situation is a mutual blame game without anyone accepting responsibilit

  4. Kool Kool

    More stupid bullshit from people who had their brains lobotomized by Facebook.

    Sure, go ahead and give your album for free, then try to sell the next one to your mailing list. It is not like you are able to learn from other peoples’ experiments…! It takes some minimum brain activity to be able to do that.

    Hey, one more band fucking things up and commiting business suicide, more space for those who get it. Harsh? Sure. But it’s reality.

    • Visitor

      i think your reference to “get[ting] it” is the entirety of this conversation. and if you know what “it” is in terms making this business make money again, friggin come out with “it.”

    • Noise

      I don’t think that band has sold the numbers they claim they did. But the Last.fm stats are as useful as Alexa. Basically, crap. I produced an album that has sold ~65,000 so far. There are less than 10 people who have it on their Last.fm data right now.

      • zbeat

        I call BULLSHIT. That discrepancy would be quite difficult to achieve, short of a major meta-data problem. Care to share the artist, so this can be verified? I’d be happy to eat crow if this is true.

        Sure, you could probably argue that certain genres (and regions) are under-represented on Last.FM, as the user-base probably skews hip and tech-savvy. But this wouldn’t apply to the pop/indie-rock of Paper Lions (http://www.last.fm/music/Paper+Lions/).

        • explanation

          Last.fm shows only highly pirated albums. The rest is not there. Simple as that.

  5. Borris The Z

    I hope these morons earn a couple of dollars from the donations, in order to afford a cheap in ear system, with an audio loop that says “breath in….breath out….breath in….breath out…”

  6. hahaha

    They can’t even get their official website on No.1 for their band name!

  7. Clyde Smith

    When it’s the band speaking, is that really the manager or somebody in the band?

    It would be kind of funny if this turned out to be the manager’s fault!

  8. @wampusmm

    First thought I had when I read this was “are they any good?” “Stay Here for a While” & others make a case.

  9. Anon.

    Just one thing to note… Paper Lions album “Tropies” has only actually sold 173 units at physical retail in Canada, according to Soundscan. Regardless of the fact that Paper Lions handled their own marketing budget, the label and distributor still would have incurred small expenses (shipping, packing, and maybe even manufacturing, who knows really). I think it would be safe to say that “$100 in the pipeline” for the band probably isn’t far off what they’re actually due on sales. For those of you with Soundscan access… look closely before thinking this album has sold over 3,000 copies in stores… most of that is offstage sales.

    Nevertheless, good publicity stunt… I just wanted to point out that “news” like this definitely isn’t worth the time or energy people put into even just reading the Digital Music News, let alone the folks that had to spend time writing the article.

  10. Jeff Robinson

    Likely, both sides saying exactly the same thing. No shenanigans- EXTREMELY probable.

    A band that is not touring or playing weekly club dates stands to sell $15 per quarter from miscellaneous online music discovery through either self-or-larger distribution. My label has 5 such acts and that is about what they sell- many months, less than that figure.

    People need to learn that the internet is NOT a promotional end. Meeting strangers face-to-face is still the best way to earn $$ in the music business whether through shows or selling recordings at shows.

    Both MB3 and the Paper Lions are to blame for being ignorant, but in this case, both should live and learn. Both now know more about the music industry and that’s a priceless education

  11. 111

    Dear MB3 Records, a short open message from someone who likes your products: please hire a SEO professional to work on your website’s relationship with the search engines. Please.