Ross May, singer-guitarist with Faded Chroniclez, played twice at West Hollywood’s Whisky a Go Go last year. Each gig cost his band $600.
“We had to drop a deposit of half up front when we got the tickets,” says May. “We had to pay the other half when we got there.”
May and the other members of his six-man power-funk band were given 100 tickets with a face value of $12 each. If they sold all 100 tickets, bandmembers could divide $600 among themselves.
“We sold about 70 of the tickets the first time, and less the second time. We found that about two-thirds of the people who bought tickets actually came up to see us. We broke even the first time. The second time, some of [the money] had to come out of our pockets. But we wrote it off since they give you a video of you playing live for $150, which is a screaming deal.
“The video was bad-ass, but the audio sucked.… We found out later, if you wanted a good audio feed, you had to pay an extra $400. We can’t even use the video; you can’t be represented by something that has bad sound.”
After those shows, May got a call.
“Celina [Denkins], the general manager of the Whisky, called us. She said she really liked our band and that we should play at this battle of the bands.” That contest, hosted by the Whisky and cosponsored by MySpace Records, promised $25,000, a demo deal, and $5000 worth of equipment to the winner. The finalists would compete in front of judges. May says he was flattered that Denkins reached out to his band. He submitted the required video of his band to enter.
“Then Celina called,” says May. “She asked me why we didn’t send [the video] in. For some reason it didn’t go through [the mail].”
May subsequently discovered that the contract would have given MySpace Records “perpetual, worldwide” rights to the song and the “right to use, publish, reproduce” the song “anywhere in the world for any purpose.”
“And they wouldn’t even have to notify us,” says May. “Just by submitting the song, they own it and they would never have to pay us a dime.… The moral of the story is make sure you read all the fine print [in music contracts].”
Faded Chroniclez appears January 30 at the Big Bear Music Festival.
— Ken Leighton