The BEM Manifesto

Every record label needs a manifesto – here’s ours…

Bad Elephant Music (BEM) is a record label with a difference.

The music industry has changed immeasurably in the last ten years, a change which we at BEM see as good for everyone (with the possible exception of major record company executives!). It’s now possible for musicians and songwriters to make professional-quality recordings of their material for very little outlay, and the low costs of production of CDs together with high-quality digital distribution means that releasing an album no longer requires the backing of a Sony or an EMI.

But artists are in the business of creating. Releasing a recording involves a lot if work – getting tracks mastered, arranging for artwork to be produced, sorting out duplication of CDs, advertising, setting up mail order and digital distribution – the list goes on. Musicians want to be free to create, to have the space to make the very best music they can.

This is where BEM will help, Working in very close collaboration with musicians we bring the results of their creativity to the listener. Not only can we get CDs made and sort out the digital world, we’ll publicize and market the music with the enthusiasm of fans.

Because fans is what we are, first and foremost. We know that BEM isn’t going to make us rich, and that’s not how we measure success. We’ve got ‘day jobs’, just like most of the artists we work with, we’re not relying on BEM for our livelihood. If we can help bring some great music into the world, cover our costs, make a small profit for the ‘talent’ and maybe afford the occasional curry, then we’ll consider the job done.

What’s In It For Me?

The Music Lover
As fans ourselves we know the thrill of unwrapping a new CD, putting it into the player and hearing it come alive for the first time…the uncovering of new depths with repeated listens…the feeling of satisfaction when the artwork complements the sounds. The demise of the CD has been widely predicted over the last few years, but we think it’s a format that’s still in great health, and it’s the way we prefer to buy music ourselves.

So you will get CDs from us, professionally made and presented, and at a price that’s fair for everyone – for you, for the artists and for us. We offer a fast and friendly mail order service, with postage and packing charged at cost, to anywhere in the world. Our returns service is second to none – if you’re unlucky enough to get a disc that’s defective in any way at all, we’ll replace it at our expense, no questions asked.

If you prefer to buy your music as downloads then that’s fine by us, and we apply the same quality criteria in the digital realm. We’ve chosen CDBaby as our partner for downloads, providing high-bitrate (that’s good quality) MP3s of all our releases. We also recognize that with downloads you often miss out on the artwork you get with a CD, so we make special versions available on our own website.

Whichever way you like to buy your music, you can be sure of one thing – to BEM, quality music and quality service go hand-in-hand.

The Artist
To us it’s all about building relationships. If you sign with BEM you’re entering into a partnership with us. We’ll talk to you before anyone signs anything to find out what makes you tick, who your audience is, where you want your music to go. Only when both you and we are happy that we can work together will we put pen to paper.

There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ BEM artist. We arrange things to work for you, tailoring the package to suit. Maybe all you need is someone to arrange for your latest album to be duplicated and distributed. Maybe you need help right from the start, finding a producer and a studio. Maybe you’re somewhere in between. We’ll work out the right deal for any situation.

We can’t promise to make you rich, but we do promise to give you a fair deal. Weasel words like “breakage fees” and “container charges” don’t appear in your contract with us, which will be written in plain English, easily understandable by non-lawyers. We’ll be investing in your project, and we will expect to get our money back, but we will make sure you understand how that’s going to work.

You should expect to get a profit from you music…after all, we do! Our basic model is that once we’ve recovered our investment (the money we put into production, duplication and marketing) we’ll split the profits with you equally. We’ll also be absolutely transparent about what we’re paying out, so you can see precisely how the business end works. The contract we make with you will cover a specific album or project, with a fixed period of time during which we have sole rights to distribute it. We never own the music itself – you made that, and you deserve to keep it. At the end of the ‘distribution period’ you’ll have the option of staying with us (we hope you will) or being free to sell the music yourself, or through someone else.

Not all musicians perform live, but fortunately there are other ways to promote your music. If you do gigs, then we’ll be there, and we’ll make sure you have CDs to sell to the punters, but if you don’t then we’ll look at what we can do with video, internet marketing, the press, and so on. It’s in our interests to promote you as much as it’s in yours.

And that’s it, plain and simple. No hidden agenda.

BEM – music is our passion.