Thursday, October 8, 2009

FootColumn: Switchfoot and Expanded rights and 360 Deals?

UPDATE (October 9, 2009, 1:00 AM PST): We got word in from Switchfoot's management saying that Switchfoot INDEED retains the artistic freedom and rights of an independent band for this particular deal with Atlantic, and that the situation is VERY favorable for the band. Rob Cavallo and Co. over at Warner Music Group have a passion for this band and their message, and the deal is great for both parties. Hope that helps you guys out! I'm personally glad to get some confirmation for what I wrote below... Peace.


Hello there friends! Here is some interesting recent news about Rob Cavallo, the guy who is responsible for finding and signing Switchfoot to their deal with Atlantic.

Marketwire posted this story about his new position as Chief Creative Officer with Warner Music Group.

Cavallo recently completed work on Dave Matthews Band's "Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King" (which he recently brought to WMG for distribution outside of North America). Rob has also just signed the band Switchfoot to an expanded rights deal with Atlantic Records and is providing additional production on several songs for the album's producer, Mike Elizondo.

^Interesting, right? Switchfoot's got what's called an "expanded rights" deal with Atlantic. I did some research but not much in the way of information came up.

But this next story (as posted on LOBH before), is a story from the LA Times about the same thing, essentially, except for one minor (or major) detail. But check this out:

Cavallo has already signed Southern California rock act Switchfoot to a multi-platform "360" deal with Atlantic Records, and is credited with bringing the Dave Matthews Band to Warner Music this year for distribution outside of North America.

^Even more intriguing. We now see that what Switchfoot's got with Atlantic is a "360" deal.

What is a 360 deal you might ask? Well, it's definitely become a recent trend in recent years. It is oftentimes looked on in a negative light, oftentimes viewed as a struggling record label's way to get their hands on a cut of almost everything the band sells and makes. This type of deal has been viewed as their response to faltering record sales in a time when digital downloading and free music continue to increase.

Heather McDonald from says that "with a 360 deal, a label can tap into that the money that [the] band earns from playing shows and selling t-shirts. In exchange, (so the story goes) the label will work with the band on their overall career, trying to drum up opportunities beyond album sales. The labels say that this actually lets them devote more time to developing an artist, because they don't have to go all out chasing big sales front the start to try and recoup their investment. If they have more ways to make their money back, then they can take a slow and steady approach to building a band and give the band more space and time to become a success before getting dropped."

She goes on to say that she feels unconvinced, saying that she feels "these deals aren't about selling music – they're about selling anything - literally anything."

Elsewhere on, one can read that a 360 deal makes the record company more of a "pseudo-manager," looking after the artist's entire career, as opposed to only focusing on record sales.

So what does this all mean for Switchfoot? Well, in this November 2008 report from, Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman declared that all new artists to the label are now required to sign on to 360 deals.

This could begin to explain why the Switchfoot deal with Atlantic Records is a 360 deal – it certainly fits into that mold, as Atlantic is a Warner-owned label.

Executives will argue that 360 deals make sense for both parties, with Bronfman arguing that without other ways to make money from an artist other than cd sales, labels wouldn't be able to continue to provide promotion for its artists.

The NY Times reports that what happens in deals like these is that "in return for... bigger share, labels might give artists more money up front and in many cases touring subsidies that otherwise would not be offered. More important, perhaps, artists might be allowed more time to develop the chops needed to build a long career. And the label’s ability to crossmarket items like CDs, ring tones, V.I.P. concert packages and merchandise might make for a bigger overall pie."

Paramore, which obviously isn't doing so bad in its own right, is one of these major artists signed to Atlantic under a 360 deal. They've done well, and can be considered a success under this model.

Now, again, we come back to Switchfoot, freshly independent from the Major Label industry. Some of us may be wondering what in the world they're doing signing back on with a major label to put out "Hello Hurricane." Others will argue that this is the best possible move to make. The Switchfoot boys poured their heart and soul into these tunes – why not put it out to as many people as possible?

I suppose without knowing all the details, there can be no real resolution in the minds of us fans. But judging by the way the Switchfoot is talking about this deal, I'm sure they found the perfect deal.

Going back to the first announcement back in early August, the guys called it a "partnership" with Atlantic. In Jon Foreman's CallIn interview with Positive Media the other day, Jon called it a partnership:

"So, we were planning on putting it out ourselves. Then, the folks at Atlantic chased us down, [because they] really loved what they had heard; Rob Cavallo and a couple of the other guys, Greg Common. And so, after thinking about it, we decided to partner up with them, so we could get the music out to everybody. Because we really feel like this record, and it is one that we want to be heard around the world, and they're the folks that can get it out there, internationally. So, we're amped."

Also, it's important to realize that Switchfoot's lowercase people imprint still owns the rights to the songs. lowercase people serves as Switchfoot's company, which is being distributed through Atlantic.

This is a great deal, folks. Not only does the band get to retain it's independent identity artistically, they keep the rights to their songs, and keep the rights to everything else as well. A 360 deal puts a commission of tour and merch sales into the pockets of Atlantic/Warner, but that doesn't mean that Switchfoot loses those rights. They keep them.

Also at the same time, Atlantic is going to be pushing Switchfoot hard and heavy all across the globe. We have already begun to see it, with "Hello Hurricane" songs getting played during major College Football games on ESPN. "Mess of Me" is getting steadily more airplay on radio stations. There is more mainstream excitement surrounding the release of a Switchfoot record than there has been since "Nothing Is Sound." Be very stoked.

And seeing as how the band has already seen huge success in the past and stayed the same humble, awkward, funny surfer dudes from So. Cali. that they are, I'm sure there's nothing to worry about with them. They've been around long enough to know whether they're doing the right thing or not. They've got their heads on straight.


Thomas said...

Hey Job,

I gotta say, that was a really well written and analyzed piece. Once again, I apologize I haven't been able to write as much as I wanted, I can have a foot column in in a few days if you need one..... ;)

but this was really great. The way you analyzed everything, and answered any questions and SF fans might have.

So kudos to you my friend, for a really well written post :D


hayley said...

I hope this 360 deal means promoting them know coming to countries to promote the album/future albums because I wanna see them again hehe :D

Job said...

TJ, thanks so much dude. You're a great writer. Let's get some more stuff from you. ;)

hayley, I'm almost 100% certain they will get promotion worldwide. :)

Bleah Briann said...

Yeah Job, about writing, I'm still waiting on a left or right answer form you. ;)