We now had three high-quality episodes of The VinylCast produced. I knew how to get them pressed and how to get them to the listener. All energies now shifted to the business side of getting the bands to sign on and setting out our launch plan. (Interesting aside during the process. Having been a photographer in the past for magazines and newspapers, one of the bands we connected with at the Kaslo Jazz Fest asked me to take a set of new promotional photos for the band. That was cool. Check out The Jerry Cans for some truly unique and awesome tunes.)
Perhaps again a little naïve, I had initially thought my industry research and a few online templates would get the job done. To make sure I figured, let me at least run them by a lawyer, hopefully for not too much cash and make sure. I got on the hunt and found Vancouver Entertainment Law. They seemed to be perfect and exactly what I was looking for. I made contact, had a quick chat, and sent over the draft.
The next day…. Dun, dun dun… “You’ve got just enough here to get yourself in a lot of trouble!” was the answer. Not exactly what I was hoping to hear.
I was quickly reassured though after he connected me with one of his senior partners who was also a musician, producer himself in addition to being a full-time entertainment law lawyer. Interestingly enough he was largely doing the law side for fun after making a killing licensing some of his songs to a Simpsons video game that hit it big. Go figure…
Here’s the tough part. I reached out to him just before we were hoping to launch in early November. Expecting a quick edit of the doc and then to be putting things up for sale to catch the Christmas season, time and reality decided we weren’t going to make the Christmas rush…
Ultimately it took until the end of January to get the completed contracts back in hand. I was extremely impressed with the law firm which may be a rare thing to hear. They were easy to work with, very comprehensive, fair and honest. In the end the cost wasn’t exorbitant to get 3 high end, legally tight documents to keep ourselves and our company from being sued into the ground.
While I now had the templates in hand, I still had to decide on what we / the company was prepared to offer to pay for royalties for the use of these bands existing songs as well as the brand-new masters we were recording with them. This starts to get a bit proprietary, but we wanted to go above and beyond the industry norm and pay what we thought were more than fair royalties to the bands. At the end of the day, if it’s not a good deal for the bands and artists, we’ve got nothing, so we made a point to pay significantly more than the industry standard.
Another big fingers crossed moment came when I filled in all data and sent off what amounted to 20 plus pages of legal contracts to the manager of the band we wanted to feature on episode 1. I heard back right away “Thanks for sending them over, we loved the episode. I’ll run through these with the band and get back to you.”
And then I waited….and waited….and waited…
Each week I checked in to see how it was going, but nothing yet. I was getting worried as without the legal documents signed, we were in a standstill and couldn’t move forward. Every question you could think of went through my head. Was the money not enough? Was there a problem with the contracts? Was the show not good enough? Not professional enough?
My other partners were getting antsy as the project sat temporarily at a stand still, waiting for thing to be legit so we could legally move on.
Then it happened…. The dramatic timing couldn’t have been better. It was March 19th. My birthday. I got up and said let me try and contact the band again. I got through, talked to the manager. Turned out the docs had gotten lost in cyberspace, but the band was all good with them, and their manager sent over the signed documents that morning.
Happy Birthday to me! Another massive and essential hurdle cleared. Things were legal. Things were legit. We were ready to do this.
That brings us up to about 2 weeks ago, and the official launch of our social media strategy. That’s where we’ll pick up next.