Blog•December 5, 2014 7:22 PM ET
Slipknot guitarist says band has never made money from record sales
In a new interview with The Morning Call, Slipknot guitarist Jim Root said something that might surprise some people: "We don't see a penny off of record sales and we never have."
What, you're asking? Slipknot has sold more than 5 million albums in the U.S. alone. According to sometimes-trustworthy Wikipedia, Slipknot has sold over 20 million albums worldwide.
Is Root lying? Probably not, at least not outright. Obviously, record labels make more than artists, especially when they shadily "recoup" every expense. Additionally, it's likely that Slipknot had a crappy contract with Roadrunner Records for their first few albums. Finally, there are a bunch of guys in Slipknot, and the money gets divided quite a few ways. That said, I imagine he's made some money from album sales, however, I'm sure it's nothing compared to what he's made from touring and merchandise. Then again, if they've sold tens of millions of albums and he hasn't seen a dime, something seems off.
Specifically, here's what Root told The Morning Call:
"You don't even know are we going to have a career. Are we going to be able to sell records? Are we going to have a label? I mean, labels are [closing] all the time. It takes like pop and rap to keep these labels going because those are the only people that are buying records anymore. To have a No. 1 with 130,000 copies sold is, you know, I remember when we first started selling records, in order to have a No. 1, you'd have to sell at least a half a million if not more, for the rock side of things. And now it's a fraction of that. So it kind of really shows you the state of where everything's at. I don't put too much into that anyway because we don't see a penny off of record sales and we never have. For us it's all about touring."
He's broke now, but for much of the 90s, ex-Faith No More singer Chuck Mosley was living off royalties from two albums with the band, neither of which went platinum. In a 2009 interview, Mosley said of the royalties, "It's always been enough to pay all the big bills, like the rent and the car."
I have no idea what songwriting credits or publishing rights Jim Root possesses with regard to Slipknot, but if he hasn't made any money from album sales, that's really sad.
UPDATE: A few people, including some industry folks, have pointed out the most likely scenario: Slipknot got album advances. Meaning, they got paid before each album was released, but didn't actually receive money from eventual sales (i.e. royalties). So while Root et al didn't technically earn "a penny" from album sales, they DID get money for making a record. At the end of the day, there's not a huge difference, but it does allow Root to come out publicly and say he didn't make a single cent from album sales (lol).