~ Brian Slagel is the king shit of Metal Blade Records, and with the exception of Black Sabbath, has probably contributed more to the community of Heavy Metal than anyone else. Metallica and Slayer were introduced to the world via the Metal Massacre compilation series. He also signed my first band Cryptic Slaughter way back in '85! Here he is dropping some knowledge from his experience that you young bands should take to heart.
“A 360 deal for those of you asking is when a label signs a band and they take money from every form of income the band gets. Touring, Merch Music sales, etc… So they want their fingers in all the money a band makes. Not cool if you ask me. Bottom line this is a business and I always say first thing a band should do is learn about the business as it is easy to get ripped off Also artists need to know that management, record labels, etc.. we all work for you! It is ultimately your business and dont entrust running it to everyone else, always make sure at least one guy in the band understands and knows business. The successful bands always have this.”
“Labels get a lot of bad press and some deservedly so, but also watch out for shady merch companies too. Merch is so important to bands these days, you have to be with a good company there as well. WIth a good deal too. Ultimately to be a successful band you need the whole team around you. Good label, booking agent, manager, lawyer and merch company. All need to be on the same page and working TOGETHER! It is like car, you have 4 wheels and if they do not all go in the same direction at the same speed, your not going to get anywhere.”
“In regards to health insurance, remember a record company is just a part of a bands income and deals. They have deals with publishers, merch companies, booking agents, etc… So a band is it’s own entity, merch companies do not provide health insurance for bands. Once a band is big enough they themselves need to be a corporation. Then they can get their own health insurance. That is how the system works. If bands were employees of the record company we would also have to take out taxes on all the money given to the artist. That would really limit what they would get as we would have to hold up to 42% of all the money for the government. So in the end it does kind of work and we try to help out the bands get insurance etc, also managers are supposed to help with that as well. As we have all said, this is a business and can get pretty complicated. I knew NOTHING when I first started out and learned mostly by mistakes. Knowing about business is really, really important for all! I know it kinda sucks, but better prepared than sorry.”
~ Cryptic Slaughter released 3 records from '86 - '88 on Metal Blade. 3 of us were teenagers in high school, and Les the guitar player was a few years older. By default he became the "business guy" simply by being not as immature as the rest of us. Back in that time the "360 deal" was not even on the menu. Hell, our first 2 records were only released on vinyl and cassette... yup it was that long ago. We all still lived at home and were on our parents health insurance. We all eventually parted ways after our summer tour in '88 in pursuit of adulthood and responsibility. I am happy to say that we all have stayed in contact and everyone is healthy and doing well. Thanks Brian for believing in us! Those were some Golden Years!