In a recent conversation with David Morrell on the RUN GPG podcast, Filter‘s frontman Richard Patrick shared his thoughts on the dramatic changes in the music industry over the years. Reflecting on his experiences, Patrick remarked, “The music industry is really crazy right now.” He recounted a time when securing a record deal was tough, but once you did, the label offered significant support.

Speaking from his personal experience, particularly during his time with Warner Brothers, he recalled the generous backing he received: “Back in the day, if you were lucky enough to get a record contract, which was hard, they took care of you. From my perspective, not necessarily in the early days with Nine Inch Nails, but from my perspective, my record company, Warner Brothers, was a godsend. They were absolutely amazing.

“I asked for the moon and they were, like, ‘Sure. You can do whatever you want. We’re here. It’s an artist-oriented label. We do what you want us to do.’ And I’m, like, ‘Okay. So I wanna grab 30,000 dollars’ worth of equipment, go back to a little house in Cleveland, Ohio, and make my record, and then have someone else mix it later on.’ And they’re, like, ‘Done.'”

Patrick detailed how Warner Brothers facilitated his creative process, providing expensive equipment and ample financial support. For his debut record Short Bus, the label funded everything from gear to a high-budget music video for “Hey Man Nice Shot.” Additionally, the label ensured that the band had a liaison on tour to manage press and other logistics.

“And like I remember going through my equipment and getting all this fancy stuff, just amazing stuff, and they bought all of it and put it together in road cases and I went across the country out to Cleveland, Ohio, and sat there with Brian Liesegang and worked on these records, or the first record, Short Bus, and I just remember being taken care of.

“And then money — I had money. They gave me pretty much an allowance to sit there and work, and they gave me an advance, which I used to live. And then it was, like, ‘Hey, let’s do a video. Here’s 300,000 dollars for that. Who do you want to work with?’ ‘I wanna work with Kevin Kerslake. He did the Smashing Pumpkins video that I like.’ And they were, like, ‘Great. Here’s his treatment.’ I get in touch with this guy. He gives me his treatment. I’m, like, ‘I love it. Let’s do that.’ That’s the video for ‘Hey Man Nice Shot’. And then they put someone on the road with us who was a liaison between all the people that we were supposed to meet, all the press we were supposed to do. And so she lived on the bus with us, which was crazy because we were pretty wild back then. But it was amazing.”

This level of support, Patrick noted, is virtually nonexistent today. Nowadays, the industry places a premium on an artist’s social media following: “And now you just don’t have that anymore. So the way they’re doing it now is if you have a TikTok following of, like, 100,000 people and you have your own built-in following already, you can get a record deal, but I don’t know how much they take care of anybody anymore. I think they just kind of take their money. They put the records out. I don’t know if they have A&R people. It’s bizarre.”

Patrick cited Billie Eilish and Finneas as examples of this new era, acknowledging their incredible talent and rise to fame through viral channels: “It’s wild because Billie Eilish is truly one of the most talented — she and Finneas are some of the most talented people ever. And they made it by going viral off of their own SoundCloud and stuff. And I remember my daughter told me about Billie Eilish when Billie Eilish was 16 back in 2018, or whatever it was, ’17 or ’18 or ’16. So, the cream is rising to the top, but it’s wild how different it is.”

Patrick lamented the decline of rock music’s popularity and the high costs associated with maintaining a rock band: “Rock is not that big anymore. That’s the sad thing, is rock music isn’t really that big anymore. And it’s expensive to be in a rock band. It’s very expensive to be in a rock band.”

Unlike in the past, where record labels bore these costs, modern bands often rely on home studios and digital collaboration via platforms like Dropbox. Patrick described his own process of creating music today, which involves piecemeal recording and remote collaboration with bandmates.

“You make noise, so you have to find a place that’ll allow you to make noise in. Basically, what I’ve done was I started off using a little studio in my house to make the beginnings of the record. Then I would go to a studio and flesh it out and add guitar overdubs and stuff like that and do drums in a studio. Then I would go to a mixer and spend six weeks with a mixer, Ben Grosse. And we had a place to stay every time we did anything.

“And now, because budgets are gone, I have my own little studio that I have. And then all of my bandmates have their own private home studios. And so I’ll come up with the main piece of music and then I’ll sing it and then I’ll send it out to my guitar player Bobby and he’ll play bass on it and sing overdubs or sing background harmonies or something like that. So we send it through Dropbox, and that’s how we work on it. Eventually, it’ll come time to do drums, and we’ll just spend two days with a great drummer who will flesh it out on drums for two days.

“And that’s the most expensive part about doing a record these days. But my monthly rent for my little studio… Luckily, I’m moving into movie scores as well, so that supplements my studio time as well. But it’s wild.”

Discussing the financial realities, he contrasted the budgets of past albums with present ones: “Filter‘s latest album, The Algorithm, cost probably around 15 grand to make, and The Amalgamut cost $600,000. Title Of Record… People are, like, ‘Oh boy, those first three records, man, they were amazing.’ Yeah, each one of ’em cost, like, $400,000 dollars to make.”

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