Sunday, January 22, 2006

I am trying to break your heart

just watched the documentary i am trying to break your heart.
it follows Jeffy Tweedy and Wilco through the recording and release of a new album.
Warner paid them 200K to record Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Once it was mixed, Warner demanded new recordings and mixes. Wilco refused, and 24 hours after delivering the album the band was dropped from the label.
The incident got a lot of press, some of the songs went online. Pretty soon 20 labels were making offers.
The band decided to go with Nonesuch, a subsidiary of Warner. They ended up getting quite a bit more from the new label, the recording was paid for by Warner, and the album did very well.

So that got me to thinking....

Has anything like this ever happened in the publishing world?


emeraldcite said...

Probably, but everything happens behind closed doors and no one pays attention...except a few of us geeks.

I'm sure someone's book wasn't accepted as fulfillment of their option and they took it elsewhere.

Nobody off the top of my head, though...I'll go see what I can find. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds doable, especially if both sides believe that the relationship has run its course. Without excitement on both sides, great work doesn't get done.

Shesawriter said...

I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I will say I was smiling while reading this little tidbit. Good fortune for them though. Not only did their dream come true, but it was even better than what they'd expected. :-)


anne frasier said...

i imagine it does happen and we just don't hear about it. i would guess it happens more with writers we've never heard of. i can't think of any big names this has happened to publicly -- although i do recall somebody buying back his book. can't think of who that was.

tanya: yeah, to have something so devastating turn completely around was pretty cool. i suppose it's appealing for the new label because they don't have to pay for the recording.

Jeff said...

I'm not familiar enough with the publishing business yet to answer the question, but it does sound like in this case with Wilco it was a bummer day turned good with a mutually satisfying contract.
I don't see why the same sort of thing wouldn't be possible in publishing.

Jer said...


anne frasier said...

jeff, i think with music there's a much bigger incentive because in a case like this the recording has already been paid for.
that's 200 thousand the new label doesn't have to pay.

jer, i've seen that meme floating around and thought it looked interesting!

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Happens in Hollywood all the time. They even have a term for it: turnaround.

Not QUITE the same, but similar. When a screenwriter turns in a script that nobody likes, the studio either hires a new writer or puts the script into turnaround.

When it's in turnaround, any studio that decides it wants to make the movie can buy the script from the original studio.

A script of mine went into turnaround at Showtime and was subsequently grabbed by Nu Image. Then all hell broke loose and the ending wasn't a happy one...

Except maybe it was. I sold a book and got the hell out of the movie business. :)

Tribe said...

I used to really like Wilco until I saw this...and its an excellent documentary....but Jeff Tweedy is so, so full of himself.

That, and Wilco just doesn't do country anymore...

anne frasier said...

rob, that's really interesting. it makes sense, which is why it seems strange that i haven't heard about anything similar in publishing. i'm sure it happens in some form, but probably not that often.

tribe, i had the opposite take on the documentary. :D
i've never been a huge wilco fan, but i'd heard the documentary was good. i thought it was kind of slow and plodding until the bad stuff happened. and i didn't get that jeff tweedy was full of himself, but i have to admit that my mind really wandered during the first half. then when they were dropped i was glued to the screen.