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Advances

  1. agivens

    agivens

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    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2018
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    3
    In the 2008 Sony movie release Cadillac Records, which tells the story of real-life Chess Records, Howlin' Wolf gets introduced to Muddy Waters after signing with the label. Muddy notices the beat up truck that Howlin' drove up in and says that if Howlin' can stick with the label long enough he'll get a Cadillac which is what the label's artists were known for driving. Howlin' ominously replies back that he owns his truck rather than his truck owning him, which foreshadows that Muddy Waters would have to continue recording for the label in order to keep his Cadillacs and would never own his music since he was being paid advances rather than royalties from the sales of his records.

    Leonard Chess, the owner of Cadillac Records, then goes on to offer Howlin' a $100 advance for signing that Howlin' quickly declines saying, "Just pay me what you owe me."

    This is a hard lesson that has to be learned by producers, songwriters, and artists. Most recording artists start out earning session fees; they usually start out with flat rates and may be able to get paid hourly. Once they have some success a business owner, possibly a record label, will come in and offer an advance to handle collections and the business side of things in exchange for signing over some of the rights to the music that they create. Forming a business alliance and taking an advance is the normal path that most recording artists and songwriters take to get someone to help finance further growth in their careers and company.

    There's nothing wrong with taking an advance under favorable terms, but the goal is to strategically take advances until you can start receiving royalties and then move away from taking advances since the more money that you take on the front end the harder it is to recoup. The higher the advance and the more advances that a musician takes the further back the payout of royalties moves.

    Muddy would get more advances to keep himself driving the newest Cadillac which was putting him further and further in the hole with Cadillac Records, while Howlin' would pass on the advance and take his cut of money from the profits that came in after the sale of the records which ultimately put him in a better position to negotiate later contracts and kept him from being owned by the label.

    Musicians today should take a less from Howlin’ in order to ensure that they get the most benefit from a successful record and song.

    watch the clip here