(UPDATE) Retired Artists takes the DIY out of Punk Rock.

Edit, these guys must have gotten some backlash, because right away they changed their name, URL, style, and whole approach. Now they’re “Riffwriters”, but it’s the same bogus, non publishing fools trying to re-invent the wheel that they never learned to steer in the first place.

Again, Caveat Emptor.

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http://www.Retiredartists.com is a site that promises to hook you up with established musicians for a fee. Basically, it’s like any other publishing house, in that they have a stable of in-house songwriters, who sell songs to clients for pop stars to record . With this site, these guys aren’t pop writers, and their clients aren’t pop stars. They’re Ex punk Rockers, old metal heads, hardcore dudes who are so full of themselves as to say things like “We grew up, but never had the love of music leave us. Everyone involved with RetiredArtists was in a band that was signed and toured extensively, on labels ranging from Victory Records to Bridge 9 Records. You most likely heard of the bands we were in, but we aren’t going to be specific on the site.”

In discussing this with some musician friends, we were all skeptical on whether or not it would work, but also thought that there are definitely people out there who are lazy enough to go their route.

Basically, for a flat fee, around 170 a song, they will write something for you using their uber awesome hardcore skills. They will even send you everything recorded in Protools for you to just drop a vocal on, and away you go, instant band.

I’m having a real problem with this. The types of music listed on the site, “metal, hardcore, punk or rock” are the genres I grew up loving. I know a little bit about them. One thing I can assure you, is that this would not be seen as a good idea by all those bands that came before, all those bands that took the time to write their shitty songs, that earned their cred and legitimacy by developing a sound and expanding the boundaries of music.

Not Retired Artists. . . . . . and actually, let’s think about their name. . . . . Retired Artists? Why would you call yourself retired, then promises a 3 week turnaround on your prepackaged goods? Doesn’t sound like much of a retirement. Sounds to me like a bunch of musicians who can;t hack the road anymore, but instead of letting it go, they want to sell their experience. They feel their time was special,. and that they gained this ease of songwriting that is so good, you’d be a fool not to hear it. They have quantified musical goodness, and have wrapped it up in a nice little package, under $200 a pop!

Straight off their site, “The best part? Everything is discreet. Nobody will know. Why play your shitty songs when you can play consistent amazing ones written by us badass guys who toured in (and with) bands whose names would make you nut yourself.”

Make me nut? Who are they marketing to? Are they really willing to trade their integrity, their experience, and their time in, for a job ghost writing? And if so, why not go the traditional route, and write around what’s selling in the market, like the pros do? Why play my shitty songs? Easy answer, because they are mine. Because I am the artist, and I have my own dues to pay. I don’t imagine $175 buys you any time on stage, or a wealth of experience in dealing with band members. Another good reason to play your own shitty songs, is so you don’t end up playing somebody else’s shitty songs.

These guys are not pros. They tell you they’re going to give you a unique service, when in reality, your fee of $175 is just insurance against their shitty songs.

If their songs were worth a penny over 175, they would sell them for that. They would not be limited to “Hardcore” Labels like Victory, if they were real tunesmiths. Believe it or not, songwriters exist. There are people out there who are good at collaborating, which involves  a real interchange between people, to create music. That is a whole side of A&R and music that most punk rockers don’t even know about. That’s what’s keeping the Retired Artists Retired, its that they’re too old, too tied down, and just to chewed up from the road.

But then, if you;re going to buck tradition, and charge up front for tunes, why ask for royalties?

Check this out, again from the site:

“You can record the songs (or we will record them), but if you are signed to a label and they release them, they can hold the rights to the recording but not the songs themselves. Even on the recording, there is a 20% royalty cut due to the artist who wrote the music for every profitable form of media produced (outside of our set CD percentage). (Example, a band has 500 7″s made, the band stands to make a dollar off each one, so its 20cents owed per seven inch to the artist. Money is due at pressing, so 500 records would be made and the artist would collect $100 from the band. (20% of the money the band would make off the record).”

If you are signing to a label that releases CD’s, the artist is to receive .20 cents per cd pressed, which is $200 per pressing of 1000 for you who suck at math.

By the way, nobody will know you didn’t make that awesome music for the song you are playing. We are 100% discreet and the only people that will know about anything will be the band (and possibly label if they need to cut checks to our artists)”

So there it is. They rape you at both ends. Even in the big leagues, a songwriter is entitled to $.091 per 100% of a composition. Whatever deals are made on the side to set up the writing gig, produce the demos, and create a real collaboration, that’s all done by the publisher. The publisher then has their own creative types who goes out and pitches these songs, and the demos to either record labels with artists ready to release them, or to bands or clients that use their services. There’s no need to be shady, or hide that fact that you’re writing for an artist, because it makes sense in this case.

That’s my main problem with the Retired Artists idea. I wouldn’t blink if it were another publisher offering songs for sale, but the general douchebaggery of the arrogance, and language on the site, and the lack of that punk ethos that makes the music good in the first place is just disgusting.

There’s no room for this shit in music, just like there’s no room for the thousands of 14 year old bands taking up good stages with bullshit pay to play shows, but as long as music is tied to the music venues, and they’re run by the thugs and scumbags who call themselves promoters nowadays, this kind of shit will never go away.

Some kid out there will pay the money to fly these guys out, and totally lack any identity in his songs, get up on stage, call himself punk rock, and maybe even believe it for a second.

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