The fact that we started looking for a major label deal so early was because Dan and John’s previous band, Trip Shakespeare, had been on a major label, and they had spent the last seven years leading up to Semisonic doing van tours of the US, producing and recording their own records, and then finally getting a record deal and being on the cusp of major label success and then getting dropped.
You see the money from the songwriting royalties. There are two sources of income for songwriters. Anytime a song gets played on the radio, or in a restaurant, or at a stadium, you get a performance royalty. There are various formulas that determine what the rate is but when you have a hit song on the radio, each time a radio station plays your song somewhere, you’re making a few pennies and those pennies really add up because there’s a lot of radio stations out there. Then there’s record sales. There’s money that goes to the band for being the band and all of that is just gobbled up by recoupable debt. But then there’s songwriting money that goes to songwriters and cannot be touched by recoupable debt. So for every record you sell, you get a few pennies for every song. Well, you sell a million records, those pennies add up. You’re not a millionaire, but you’re making some money.
Music was what I was in it for, but it would sure be great if we could be one of those people who are in the music business and also set up for the rest of their lives and don’t have to worry. So in that sense, I was concerned with the business. I never took the attitude of “whatever happens, happens, I’m just going to enjoy it.” Which, in retrospect, is really what I should have decided, but you know, by the time Semisonic got going I was in my early 30s, and by the time "Closing Time" came along I was 38.
Category: Music Quotes