CHEVELLE drummer Sam Loeffler has clarified his brother’s recent comment that the band hasn’t made any money from record sales despite the fact that CHEVELLE sold six million albums for Epic Records.
Speaking to Two Doods Reviews, Sam said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “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. And 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.
“There’s a lot of details — ins and outs and everything — there. 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.
“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,” the drummer continued. “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.
“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. And I think that, unfortunately, some of those people will probably be disappointed to hear that, but all you have to do is put yourself in anyone’s shoes. Somebody who’s an inventor and goes out and develops this fantastic engine that saves five miles a gallon for a super airliner and he spends his life’s work doing it, and then, at the end of it, he gets zero for it. It’s, like, well, he’s probably entitled to something. And maybe someday we will make something from it.
“People don’t understand how the major label record deal works,” Sam added. “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.”
Last month, Pete revealed to “The KiddChris Show” on Cincinnati’s WEBN radio station that his band is a free agent after fulfilling its contractual agreement with Epic. “We just finished our record contract,” he said. “How many bands can say that? We just handed in our last one for Sony/Epic, and we’re stitting here wondering what’s next. Where do we go now? Do we go back to being an indie band? I mean, that’s kind of cool. That sounds exciting. I don’t know. I don’t know where we’re gonna go now. Do we start a label? Do we do it ourselves? We’re not a TikTok band necessarily; we don’t have that platform.”
He continued: “We’re trying to change, but not change too much to lose your core fanbase, and yet you do wanna grow, and yet you don’t wanna be stuck in the same archaic music-business model.”
Asked if he and his brother still don’t know if they will re-sign with Epic, Pete said: “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.’
He continued: “It would be nice to do something different and actually make a buck off of an album for once; it just hasn’t happened for us. We’ve sold six million albums for Epic Records, and they’ve made 50 million dollars. It’s lopsided. And the artist — just like [American stand-up comedian] Dave Chappelle said, he knows he signed a deal with for the Chappelle show [‘Chappelle’s Show’] long ago, and it’s a raw deal. It went to someone else, and they can put it on any platform they want, whether it’s Netflix or HBO or whatever, and he went to them and said, ‘Look, I know I did that, but it’s wrong — it’s still wrong. You need to compensate the artist.’ And that’s kind of where we’re ending up too. It’s a bad business model for the artist.”
Pete went on to say that Epic still retains the rights to CHEVELLE‘s entire catalog. “The fact of the matter is when you sign a record deal with a major, they own it for, like, 20-something years,” he explained. “We said, ‘We’d re-sign with you if you just sent some of it through the pipeline to us.’ All the profits, they’re keeping everything. ‘And if you just send a little bit through, maybe we can talk about this, [about] continuing on.’ I mean, there’s some good people at Epic. And then, in a lot of ways, we feel burned.”
CHEVELLE‘s latest album, “Niratias” (Nothing Is Real And This Is A Simulation), was released on March 5. The follow-up to 2016’s “The North Corridor” was recorded throughout 2019 and 2020 with longtime producer Joe Barresi (TOOL, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE), CHEVELLE.
“Niratias” bowed in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200. It debuted at No. 9, and was the first new release to chart within the Top 10 in over three weeks. In addition, “Niratias” achieved several other accolades. This week, the LP impressively debuted at No. 1 on several Billboard charts, including Rock Album, Alternative Album, Hard Music, Overall Album, Digital Album and Internet Album. “Self Destructor”, the album’s acclaimed lead single, also reached the summit of the Active Rock radio chart this week, marking CHEVELLE‘s 12th No. 1 single at the format.
“The North Corridor” debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 album chart and produced a No. 1 Mainstream Rock single, “Joyride (Omen)”.