Saturday, July 25, 2009

(part 183) MONEY FROM RCA

click to enlarge
Original RCA promotion photo taken in New York City at Rockefeller Center in 1978.

RCA gave me $16,000 for the four songs Ben and I produced. That was $4,000 a song, so there was a bit of profit in that number.

I don't know why I didn't ask for more, but I assume at the time, it seemed reasonable to me. I know I was trying hard to be honest about my costs, so I probably figured out what I'd spent and added a little to arrive at that amount.

Remember! This was 1977 and you could still go into a quality studio, with good players, and create something for a reasonable amount of money.

The good thing about quality musicians is they get the job done, so even though they cost more their work is accomplished with efficiency, which saves you money.

We had the songs, the players, and the studio, so when we started we worked, and didn't waste studio time thinking about what we were going to do, we knew going in.

Everybody was clear on their job, and because Ben was used to me, and the band was used to Ben, there was no real friction about what was expected. In the long run this proved to be a financial plus.

Once I got the money from RCA, I decided I should go back in the studio and cut more sides, hoping to end up with an album.

RCA didn't want an album, they wanted a single release to test how things might go, and then we'd see. I on the other hand kept thinking album, believing if I recorded it they'd buy it when they heard it.

Once I was successful at selling the first four songs, and recouping the money my girlfriend's father had given me, everybody decided I really did know what I was doing.

This was both good and bad, but back then it all looked good. My girlfriend's father then decided he wanted to invest more money in my project, partly due to my success, but also because his daughters needed a job.

In his mind, it made sense for them to work for me in a small company that he would finance. I didn't object, so RPJ Music and Step Three Productions were created to publish and produce my music. Step three came for the twelve in AA...

The next check I received from him was for $30,000 to use as I saw fit. It was now looking like everything I touched turned to gold, which was a dangerous place for me to start inhabiting.

The more responsibility I got, the more pressure I felt to do the right thing, whatever that was. I'd gone from nothing to a whole lot in a year and a half and wasn't sure of what to make of it.

My answer was to concentrate on going back in the studio and record. This gave me a focus and sense of purpose, which I held on to for balance.

As long as I knew where I was headed, I could keep busy doing the things that would get me there. I kept trying to refocus my mind on accepting the success I was having, but the more of it I encountered, the more worried I became about how to incorporate it into my ever changing life.

I'd been rocketed from a lowly halfway house beginning to the surreal world of West Hollywood's music business hype overnight. It started looking as if whatever I thought I needed would suddenly appear out of nowhere.

As good as this might sound, I wasn't very well equipped to handle it. I was still too used to things going wrong, and failure, to suddenly switch to the opposite effect gracefully.

As I plodded along, RCA decided to release Stay With Me/Long Hard Road as a single, with Stay With Me as the A-side. It was not my choice, but I had no power over what they decided.

I used my full name, Robert Parker Jameson instead of Bobby Jameson, because I wanted to disconnect from the past and what I perceived as my failures.

For whatever reason, my dealings with the label were almost exclusively with the new and then current president of the company, Bob Summer.

He'd been the force behind RCA's decision to buy my recordings, and this in the long run, would cause trouble with his A and R reps, who felt their position had been circumvented by him. The reality of inner company politics is nothing but poison.

(A & R stands for Artist and Repertoire).

This is one of the songs we recorded when we went back into the studio after RCA bought the first four songs.