Last month, Chevelle‘s Pete Loeffler likely raised a few eyebrows while revealing on WEBN’s KiddChris Show that the group had not “made any money” from their record sales despite have sold over six million albums. Clarifying a bit of what his brother said, Chevelle drummer Sam Loeffler elaborated on that point while speaking with Two Doods Reviews (seen below).
Pete initially started speaking about the band’s future as they just completed a contract with Epic and were contemplating their next step. He stated at the time, “”Contracts are a bitch, and we’ve signed some raw ones. And we need to start trying to make some money off of our catalog, which is 10 albums deep, plus all the side stuff. We haven’t made any money off of record sales, album sales. It’s all gone to the major labels. A lot of people make money off of us; we just don’t make money the way the deals are structured. We just aren’t excited to get back into any kind of contract. So if we find a new home at a new label, wherever it is, it’s gotta be a special deal where you get something for your hard work.”
When asked about Pete’s comments, Sam Loeffler offered a more in depth accounting of how the record industry works with artists, which he adds is something that may be surprising to some.
“We didn’t say how much money we’ve made in anything except for we haven’t made any money from album sales, which is true. We’ve done very well on all the other parts of the business, which is great,” said the drummer, adding, “That seems to be what’s happened with the industry, is that it’s kind of like the industry knows that touring and merch and publishing and things like that are their own thing, so they’re, like, ‘Because of that, we’re gonna take everything else. So when it comes to your albums, you give us nine albums, and you’ll get nothing for it.’ The album becomes a promotional tool. And I think that that is something that is surprising.”
“Long story longer, the reality is had you not made that deal when you did, who knows if it ever would have gone to where it is now? Because we’ve done great in a lot of places — we still do,” continued Loeffler. “I think the whole thing with Pete saying that, about how we haven’t made any money on albums, is more about letting people know how it works when you sign away your masters for 29 years.”
He added, That’s really what it is. And if you can give a little bit of info out to somebody out there who’s, like, maybe on the fence about signing this major label deal but they’re doing really well on their own, promoting their own thing… It all depends on what’s out there and what you’re able to do on your own. There are some great artists who have done a really good job promoting themselves and have been able to keep all the control. And that’s great too. And that’s the other side of it too — you can use the major label to get it out there and to do what you’re gonna do and then transition into a situation where you have more control.”
Loeffler was complimentary of the band’s relationship with Epic Records, who have been their label since their second album, 2002’s Wonder What’s Next.
“The reality is, with Epic Records, where we’ve been for 20 years, we have a lot of control; they’ve been very good about letting us do almost whatever we want, and supportive. But [in] 20 years, we’ve had eight different [label] presidents, nine different A&R people. There’s no person at Epic that’s responsible for us not making money. Everyone there, I’m sure, wants us to make money. It’s just not the model that exists. And they’ve been supportive. And we have good people there that have done a lot of work.”
He concluded, “People don’t understand how the major label record deal works. Just the standard deal is that the artist pays for everything — marketing, promotion, radio promotion, videos; the artist pays for every single thing. It goes against their record sales. If you are a major pop artist, the label might spend millions of dollars to promote your music, and that money comes out of your share of the record sales. So if your share is 20 percent, your 20 percent pays for all the marketing — the millions of dollars. So until it gets paid back, you’re in a negative situation.”