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Who else has walked away from a recording contract?

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The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Kina Grannis about her experience turning down an Interscope deal to go it alone as a "YouTube artist" -- without going into too much detail on how that process actually worked. It's obviously not a common practice to turn down a recording contract, but it would be fascinating to get more examples of musicians or other artists who had been offered a deal -- and hear more about how those deals were negotiated/re-negotiated and turned down. Are there any other examples you can think of?

initiated Jan 13, 2012 in Lessons Learned by Michael Ho (2,370 points)   10 14 27

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(Sorry for being so vague in this response, but I don't have the artist's permission to name names or specifics, and I dont want to damage the friendships I have with these people.)


Several years ago, a band from my hometown entered a radio contest.  

The winner would get a good number of free hours in a professional recording studio, a contract with a major record label, and regular airplay on the station running the contest.

These aren't your sterotypical dumb musicians.  One the band members worked insurance by day, dealing with contracts and dollar ammounts (but his long scruffy hair and beard did a good job of hiding this expertise of his).  

When they won the contest, he read over the contract carefuly.  If the label was able to do EVERYTHING they promsied they would do, it would have expanded their audience by a significant amount, but they would be making exactly the same amount of money they were currently making, only they would no longer own the rights to their own music.  

They figured that same money + loss of ownership = not a good idea.  

Luckily, the studio time / air play was not tied to the contract signing.  They did not sign, and they put out the album, had a few songs get regular air play for a couple months, and they had a few years of rather good local success before breaking up.
response added Jan 26, 2012 by Kyle Clements (2,460 points)   3 9 17
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Funnily enough, just got this through from CD baby this morning. The below is a direct cut and paste from their e-mail so I make no claims about the validity or accuracy of the information. But I do remember her from when she had about 50 friends on myspace ;~)

Building a flourishing music career on her own terms.
Over the last seven years since Ingrid Michaelson has been with CD Baby, she has gone from a relatively unknown singer/songwriter to an internationally-known headlining act. Discovered online in 2006 by her manager who runs a music licensing company, Ingrid began to garner TV placements on some of the biggest shows on television (Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill, and Scrubs, among many others) and quickly started to build a huge fan following as a result. In 2008, she opened for Jason Mraz on his European tour, and followed it up with a U.S. tour of her own. Along the way, Ingrid has received countless offers from major labels, but each time has decided to remain independent and in control of her own career path, selling over 800,000 albums in the process. She has come a long way since her humble beginnings, but she continues to use CD Baby for her distribution, because we've made it easy for her to create, share and sell her music on her own terms.

response added Jan 28, 2012 by drew stephenson (3,370 points)   3 10 22
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In 1995 i recorded a demo album with my partner. We won a best demo of the month in  a magazine and got a few good reviews, so we sent the tape off to our favourite labels one Friday. The following Monday EMI phoned up  to say it was the best demo they had ever heard, there then followed a year of music solicitors, publishers, labels and managers speaking  to us, saying  they were going  to do stuff. We were offered a publishing  deal for no money which we turned down and at one point a famous manager sat us down with a contract and asked us to sign  it. We didn't, we walked out. Personally i didn't like the bandana and cowboy boots, but i also didn't like it when he said: 'if you  have any worries, here's our solicitor (solicitor walked in)'. I have often wondered about that day. But seeing  the bands he has managed since i do feel that we were right.
response added Mar 13, 2012 by Tom Fraser (570 points)   2 3 4
@tomwgf Never believe another's lawyer. They are paid to represent them, not you. They don't have your best interest at heart. Only believe your own lawyer.
@shawnhcorey And even then don't believe them too much!

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