From Record Deal to Indie

In the music biz, we’re often conditioned to believe that a dream come true is getting the coveted ‘record deal.’ It suggests recognition and a leg up to greater success, which to me mostly means still getting to do my thing, but with more support. 

So in 2012 I signed a deal with the Spectra Jazz label (part of the Spectra Music Group) in the U.S. 

The guy who signed me was very enthusiastic about my CD Para Ti, saying it was an elegant, timeless work of art. He sincerely believed in my music for its original sound, which is neither jazz nor flamenco nor latin, although it has all of those elements. 

We worked on a U.S. based line-up for tours and started getting some great press. So far so good… then, he suddenly left the company without explanation. I later connected with some other acts he'd signed and they told the same story: yes, he pretty much disappeared. 

I spent the next two years trying to get out of the contract, in order to get my digital rights back.

According to my contract with Spectra, they were to deliver quarterly reports, which never materialized. I never saw a dime, and they refused to share their accounting records with me.  Although they breached our contract on several points, I didn’t want to incur any more legal fees, so I let it go. I’ve since put the album back up on digital platforms on my own as an independent. 

Looking back, I did my part correctly. Co-writer agreements were signed and songs were properly registered. The deal was approved by a well known music law firm in Vancouver. I paid all the legal fees and did my homework. Still, the music business is a risky one. 

We keep moving forward. Artists have an intrinsic thirst for the process of creation. During the time that Para Ti was out of my hands, I wrote another album (Sangria Jam). I’m always gathering ideas for the next album. I think the moral of the story is to keep informed as the business changes, don't get pushed around, stay in the creative flow as much as possible, and just do the best you can. It's also helpful to know what your specific goals are (sales? Touring? Licensing?). There is no secret formula in this rapidly changing business, and priorities change. In my case, it's all about keeping my composition juices flowing and developing my music for the live show. No label needed. 

4 comments

  • Alan Walters

    Alan Walters South Wales

    I really think this must have been so hard for you. They obviously weren't willing to put any effort in. As I've said before I am Blown Away by your Para Ti album & maybe it's as I've mentioned before I really think your situation is very similar to Eva Cassidy's. You sing in many genres & your music is totally Amazing. Eva Cassidy had the same problem because she wasn't a niche artist no record company could place her. How wrong they all were. I remember clearly the day I was driving my taxi & Terry Wogan played her cover of Fields Of Gold. For me it was one of those Jaw- dropping moments. It was the same when I first heard your music. I just hope that enough people can hear your music. You will soon have 4 albums & how totally Amazing they all are. Sadly Terry is no longer with us. I hope you find someone like him to play your music on radio.

    I really think this must have been so hard for you. They obviously weren't willing to put any effort in. As I've said before I am Blown Away by your Para Ti album & maybe it's as I've mentioned before I really think your situation is very similar to Eva Cassidy's. You sing in many genres & your music is totally Amazing. Eva Cassidy had the same problem because she wasn't a niche artist no record company could place her. How wrong they all were. I remember clearly the day I was driving my taxi & Terry Wogan played her cover of Fields Of Gold. For me it was one of those Jaw- dropping moments. It was the same when I first heard your music. I just hope that enough people can hear your music. You will soon have 4 albums & how totally Amazing they all are. Sadly Terry is no longer with us. I hope you find someone like him to play your music on radio.

  • Nancy Ruth

    Nancy Ruth Spain

    [quote=Alan Walters] I really think this must have been so hard for you. They obviously weren't willing to put any effort in. As I've said before I am Blown Away by your Para Ti album & maybe it's as I've mentioned before I really think your situation is very similar to Eva Cassidy's. You sing in many genres & your music is totally Amazing. Eva Cassidy had the same problem because she wasn't a niche artist no record company could place her. How wrong they all were. I remember clearly the day I was driving my taxi & Terry Wogan played her cover of Fields Of Gold. For me it was one of those Jaw- dropping moments. It was the same when I first heard your music. I just hope that enough people can hear your music. You will soon have 4 albums & how totally Amazing they all are. Sadly Terry is no longer with us. I hope you find someone like him to play your music on radio. [/quote] Thanks, Alan. It's so great for artists to have such supportive fans like yourself, and just to know that you enjoy the music. So appreciated! Gracias...

    Alan Walters wrote:

    I really think this must have been so hard for you. They obviously weren't willing to put any effort in. As I've said before I am Blown Away by your Para Ti album & maybe it's as I've mentioned before I really think your situation is very similar to Eva Cassidy's. You sing in many genres & your music is totally Amazing. Eva Cassidy had the same problem because she wasn't a niche artist no record company could place her. How wrong they all were. I remember clearly the day I was driving my taxi & Terry Wogan played her cover of Fields Of Gold. For me it was one of those Jaw- dropping moments. It was the same when I first heard your music. I just hope that enough people can hear your music. You will soon have 4 albums & how totally Amazing they all are. Sadly Terry is no longer with us. I hope you find someone like him to play your music on radio.

    Thanks, Alan. It's so great for artists to have such supportive fans like yourself, and just to know that you enjoy the music. So appreciated! Gracias...

  • Jeff Young

    Jeff Young South Beach, USA

    Unfortunately, your story is all to common. Glad you kept your focus and did not let that episode poison your dreams. Keep moving forward and continue to put smiles on the faces of all your fans. I might add that there are still many good folks throughout the Music Industry, ones who are passionate, caring forand respectful to the artistic community

    Unfortunately, your story is all to common. Glad you kept your focus and did not let that episode poison your dreams. Keep moving forward and continue to put smiles on the faces of all your fans. I might add that there are still many good folks throughout the Music Industry, ones who are passionate, caring forand respectful to the artistic community

  • Nancy Ruth

    Nancy Ruth Spain

    [quote=Jeff Young] Unfortunately, your story is all to common. Glad you kept your focus and did not let that episode poison your dreams. Keep moving forward and continue to put smiles on the faces of all your fans. I might add that there are still many good folks throughout the Music Industry, ones who are passionate, caring forand respectful to the artistic community [/quote] Thanks, Jeff... and indeed you are one of those who is committed to nurturing and informing artists... and we are grateful :)

    Jeff Young wrote:

    Unfortunately, your story is all to common. Glad you kept your focus and did not let that episode poison your dreams. Keep moving forward and continue to put smiles on the faces of all your fans. I might add that there are still many good folks throughout the Music Industry, ones who are passionate, caring forand respectful to the artistic community

    Thanks, Jeff... and indeed you are one of those who is committed to nurturing and informing artists... and we are grateful smile

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