Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lester's Time Has Come Today, Corrupt Music Labels Need To Pay Royalties

If you have listened to classic rock, there are artists for whom you aren't sure of their names, but you know the melody and can place the music to a certain era. The Chambers Brothers are one of those bands that could finally be getting the recognition they deserve and the royalties owed for past album sales

One saddening notion to hear about are the musicians, who haven't been paid for their past record sales in the pre-digital download era. It is currently far easier to track the sale of music through streaming and downloads, thus allowing the sales to be transparent, instead of fuzzy math. For all the musicians that came before the explosion of Itunes and other digital outlets, getting exact figures on album sales was a shady aspect of the business. The sad part is that we still know of bands this is happening to, due to bad business dealings and out right thievery.

Social Media and the explosion of the internet have created a whole new outlet for bands to grow. As an artist be on top of your music and the business end of it, to build a solid foundation for your efforts to flourish.

Find out more about Lester Chambers on Kickstarter

"Record companies screwed over Lester Chambers of The Chambers Brothers for decades and as a result, today he's poor. My social enterprise, breadpig, is working with Lester and his son Dylan to organize this Kickstarter to back a new album by (and entirely owned by) Lester Chambers himself so the man can finally get his due. The open internet can make right what the music industry has done so wrong.

As seen on r/videos and the frontpage of YouTube, this trailer of Lester's story has now had over 500,000 views!

Read Lester's reddit Ask Me Anything interview from Dec 13th.
Last spring, we saw the story of Lester Chambers bubble up on the internet. The lead singer of 1960s soul music group The Chambers Brothers posted this photo:

Lester Chambers' Viral Photo
Lester Chambers' hand written note on never receiving royalties for his music

“I am the former lead singer of a 60′s band. I did not squander my money on drugs or a fancy home. I went from 1967-1994 before I saw my first royalty check. The music giants I recorded with only paid me for 7 of my albums. I have never seen a penny in royalties from my other 10 albums I recorded. Our hit song was licensed to over 100 films, TV & commercials without our permission. One major TV network used our song for a national commercial and my payment was $625 dollars. I am now 72, trying to live on $1200 a month. Sweet Relief, a music charity, is taking donations for me. Only the 1% of artists can afford to sue. I am the 99%.”

The music industry may have screwed Lester Chambers for decades, but we the internet public can right their wrong.

Thanks to the open internet (things we fought for against SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, etc.), sites like Kickstarter and other innovations that are being worked on by entrepreneurs right now, we have the opportunity to do right by artists and cut out those who'd mistreat them. We have the opportunity to create solutions that will support artists in the digital world.

The Chambers Brothers
The Chambers Brothers

Lester Chambers is putting together a new album titled "Lester's Time Has Come." With this project, we have the opportunity to support not only the awesome work of a storied and talented musician, but we have the chance to stand up against the tyranny of the record industry. Stand with Lester, and stand for innovation that supports artists' rights.

A note from Lester: "I thank God for the opportunities I have been blessed with and when Alexis Ohanian called all I could say was WOW. All the times I sat hoping and wishing I could make another record had finally come true. In this record I promise to have some of the worlds GREATEST songs from your past and some Great New songs for your new year to come!"
Read more about Lester in his interview with Vice.

Father & Son
Lester Chambers with his son Michael Dylan

Even with a daunting list of illnesses and a life of hardship at the hands of the music industry, Lester is not a beaten man, far from it, and it's clear that his son is a big part of that.

"My son, Michael Dylan, said 'Dad don't worry. I'm never gonna leave you. Always stay by your side.' He slept on the floor with me.... Every father in the world should have a son like I have."
"Fathers be aware, if your son is not what Michael Dylan is to me, to you -- straighten him out."

Lester & Dylan Chambers, a few years later.
Lester & Dylan Chambers

Funds from this project will go to Lester via the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which provides financial assistance to career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. Sweet Relief has been supporting Lester and other musicians in need, and they will be helping produce Lester's album.

This project is managed by Breadpig, an online publisher headed by Alexis Ohanian. Breadpig gives a majority of its profits to its artists (in this case 100%).

We cannot thank Lester and his son Dylan for opening up to us and taking a day to tell their story. May this kickstarter campaign let us all finally say that Lester's Time Has Come.

Lester still rocks.
Lester Chambers performing in San Francisco

Special thanks to Lerone Wilson of Boondoggle Films for all video work, as well as Maneli Jamal, who generously rocked the music on said video.
Here is Lester's detailed budget for this album, Lester's Time Has Come.
Rehearsal costs: $3,800
Producer: $8,000
Musicians (Band): $8,000
Five Weeks Studio Time: $10,000
Mastering: $2,400
Musician fees (including Tower of Power Horns, Lenny Williams, Zakiya Hooker, Ant Dog, & Marin City Choir): $6,200
TOTAL: $38,400

Lester & Alexis
Add captionLester & Alexis

Filming this kickstarter trailer in Lester's home.
Filming this kickstarter trailer in Lester's home

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The Christmas songs are all set, and we'll be sending those along to all our backers on a rolling basis. 

The album "Lester's Time Has Come" is a work in progress. We'll be working on the album, and the art as this campaign rolls along. We hope to keep you as looped into the process as much possible. We'll send updates your way, and let you know if there are any delays in production. 

And of course if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to any of us."