REM / IRS signing press release (with annotations)

Press release from May 31, 1982 announcing the band’s signing with I.R.S. Records including news of the first release with the label, an EP called Chronic Town, plus plans for a full-length release to follow in 1983.

“I read IRS honcho Miles Copeland’s autobiography recently and he talked about REM being the most low maintenance, easy to work with, no drama band of all of IRS artists – which of course including many notable (& great) bands laden with drama, conflict, squabbling (especially over songwriting credit/royalties), drugs and ego”

++ Noteworthy is the fact that REM split songwriting credits/publishing (read: royalties) equally between the four members of the band {guess I don’t know how/if this continues after bill berry left} This tactic is key to helping bands stick together.

So many bands split up when the checks start coming in and the drummer who spend so much time hauling gear, where the bass player that comes up with all kinds of grooves that make the song work etc gets left out in the cold… How many bands can you think of that the “lead singer/front person” left, started a new band with session musicians and just sort of fizzled out? So many band members have lifelong feuds as they split hairs about who came up with which part of which melody and which lyric was changed and end up with a dozen different “writers“ on each song or, just one writer for a whole album.

For the uninitiated, the lion’s share of the money from a musical recording is in the songwriting royalties, rather than the performance royalties (and yes I know it’s not all about that anymore in the age of streaming over physical media but this is coming from a guy who still buys physical media and publishing is still where the money is)

++ Used to be concerts were sorta a loss leader for album sales and now concerts are a big ticket item and merch is where the gravy is made (with exceptions etc. etc.)

Anyhow, this is where the REM story started progressing from a green Dodge van to a tour bus and theaters, two small arenas, and before you know it, for a while “the biggest band in the world“ selling out giant outdoor stadiums.

One other thought: in some bands (like for example the Beatles and the Police) where there were principal songwriter/s (Mc/L or Stg) the other band members would often/always get a song or two on each album >> I think in part to “be collaborative” but also to make sure they get at least a taste of the mechanical royalties from each album sold.

Of course George Harrison was a fine songwriter in his own right but after watching the Beatles documentary (that really long one) it’s clear the songs didn’t tumble out of him like they did with John and Paul. Ringo just sort of fiddled around with something here and there, helped out from his friends appropriately.

I thinking about synchronicity album, Stewart and Andy both have a song – both stick out like big toes in small shoes – but it means that there’s a check coming in for every album sold.

++ pal Mikael remarks: imho, George was, by far, the superior writer in the band.

++ my reply: my uncle agreed and made a whole album “by Bachman by George” (If I recall correctly) but in the case of the Beatles, after watching the documentary, B’s were very much a Paul and John “project” and George felt that and that’s why he kept on quitting. And dear Ringo, always showing up on time, letting the others do their goofy impressions & their squabbles.

Whatcha think?