You might have heard that after a long relationship with Oakland's Lookout! Records, Green Day recently decided to take back their pre-Dookie releases due to concerns over unpaid royalties. If you want to read more background on the story, Punknews.org, MTV.com and Pitchfork offer coverage.
There seems to be a lot of hubbub over Lookout's business practices, with former president Larry Livermore quoted by Pitchfork as saying Lookout was "apparently using the [Green Day royalties] to put out a series of terrible records that very few people wanted to buy. Gambling on new bands is part of what a record label does, but you don't do it with other people's money." Be that as it may, after our experience working at record labels, we here at SFist just want to ring in and say that this happens every day in the music industry! Signing bands that fail, throwing money out the window, having bands pick up and leave when they're not contractually obligated to stay, this is a day in the life of most record labels. We're not saying it's right, we're just saying it's common.
Lookout reports that their respect and friendship with Green Day is still intact, which says a lot. We're sorry to hear that Lookout has had to cut back staff, because we want to see independent labels thrive. Current President Christopher Appelgren told us that their "goal is to re-establish Lookout Records as a small, strong and simpler company attuned to meeting its obligations and not creating new obligations that cannot be met."
Let's not forget the good things Lookout has going on: Mary Timony played at Ladyfest in Olympia WA this past month, Communique are finishing up a tour with Tegan and Sara, and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists are about to embark on a national tour. And with several multiplatinum albums under their belts including American Idiot and a history of extensive touring, merchandise sales, publishing royalties, etc., nobody's worried about the financial or creative future of our boys in Green Day. We offer our good wishes and support to Lookout for being one of the bay area's strong indies. Here's hoping they bounce back and continue.