Panel 1. The World On A String COmics. Music, autobio, etc. 2021 Ken Alleman. Why do so many musicians hit it big, only to run into money trouble later on? Image of an old timey cartoon money bag.

Panel 2. Image of a Venn diagram. Circle number one reads, "There's no shortage of musicians who are the right combination of talented, young, and naive." Circle number two reads, "And there's no shortage of people in the world whose only useful life skill is finding ways to exploit those musicians!" The overlap reads, "Rock and roll!"

Panel 3. Caption reads, "When you sign a record deal, the label will typically give you an advance. This is money you're given ahead of time to pay for the cost of making the record, plus your living expenses." Medium close image of a man in a suit handing a money bag to a man with a guitar on his back.

Panel 4. Caption reads, "For some musicians, the advance is more than enough to pay for the record and their living expenses. Much more. So they find other things to spend it on. And why wouldn't they? This is the big time. This is what they've been waiting for." Collage image of a nice car, a mansion, and a bottle and a glass.

Panel 5. Caption reads, "This is by design. Sudden cashflow can be overwhelming, especially to someone who isn't used to having it. It makes them more agreeable, less likely to negotiate the terms of their contract. An advance is not free money. The record label expects to make that money back in the form of sales." Same image of the man in the suit handing money to the man with the guitar on his back. Only this time, we see from afar that another man has snuck up behind the musician and is attaching a ball and chain to his foot.

Panel 6. Image of a dial with "royalties" at one end and "advance" at the other. The peg on the dial is pointing at "advance." The musician is struggling to reach the peg and push it towards "royalties," but the ball and chain holds him back. Caption reads, "You, the musician, don't see a dime until your advance has been returned in full. The bigger the advance, the more records you have to sell in order to pay it back. An advance will never be bigger than the company can afford to lose, but it will often be bigger than the musician can afford to pay."

Panel 7. Image of a big bag of money with an X through it. Image of a smaller bag of money, plus a contract with "rights, points, etc." listed on the front, which the musician's hand is reaching for. Caption reads, "Be skeptical of big money and big promises! The bigger the money and the bigger the promises, the more skeptical you must be."

"The World On A String" site and contents
CC BY-SA 2024 Ken Alleman
except where indicated otherwise.