I've done alright over the years; won a few gongs and had a few hits, so retiring is about having had enough - I've got enough money so I won't be reliant on the State Pension. The once bright, dreamy music industry that I joined in the mid 70's has now been replaced by a corporate cow run by accountants and lawyers whose sole purpose in life seems to be to drain the life out of the industry and regurgitate safe product.
I can remember back in the 70's there was so much enthusiasm about. The offices of the big players (Sony, East West, Island, etc) were vibrant places full of eccentric artistic visionaries who were constantly looking for the next big thing. A & R (that's artist and repertoire to you darling) people spent endless nights in smokey bars across the country looking for talent and nothing was dismissed.
Now the offices are like legal firms; primarily because they're populated by accountants and lawyers. A&R is as rare as rocking horse shit and the labels look to their ever ageing big artists to churn out safe stuff that makes big bucks. Look at the Cher album of ABBA hits - what on earth does that add to the lexicon of music - which they push because it will net them a few hundred million dollars even after they've paid for all the Photoshopping that must have been needed to the old girl before they wheeled her out.
The industry does record new talent of course, but increasingly they rely on small producers like me to take home recordings and generate something acceptable out of the raw product. For me that's been fun; I have worked with some great new bands over the last twenty years some of whom are now big acts, but for the acts themselves the focus has moved from gigging, where you used to be spotted by A&R, to home recording, YouTube and Spotify. Only by generating interest on there do they get interest from the record companies.
So retirement seemed like a cracking idea. Get away from the shoddy corporate globalist enterprises that the record industry has become. Relax and get some sun. Chill and turn my back on the music world. But of course it's not as easy as that.
I have a business, I employ people, they have salaries, cars, pensions and whatnot. They also have wives and kids. Suddenly you discover that retiring is socially irresponsible because of all the harm I might do to other people, and somehow that's my fault!
So I decided to sell the business. I can't sell my own production and writing skills but there is a huge infrastructure behind that which I can sell and, with it, the security of the people who work for me. I also appear to have a ton of personal guarantees on every sort of finance agreement you can imagine and I need to get out of those as well. My accountant tells me all this of course, so I agree to sell rather than just walk.
Then the lawyers get involved........
In my many years of business (I've never been employed my whole life) I'm met some dicks. I've met arrogant dicks, lying dicks, duplicitous dicks and even dangerous dicks, but nothing compares to lawyers.
In my day to day business I don't deal with them. I have a PA and she does all that stuff. I also have a Head of Legal and whilst I've never really understood what he does I now realise he's been keeping these pretentious, vacillating bastards away from me for years. But now I have to deal with them.
As it turns out my business is worth quite a bit of money (eight figures) and there was a lot of competition to buy. So I had to get the lawyers in to handle the bidding process. I wanted to be able to deny any liability for who bought the business so it seemed like a good idea - it wasn't. Their recommended buyer at the end of three months was a Russian whose money was shady in the extreme and whose connections to organised crime terrified some of my staff. So I sacked him and the lawyers and started again.
In the end I'm selling to an old chum from the business. He's paying half what the Russian was going to pay but it's still a nice number and I know he'll look after my boys and girls. So, having done the deal myself I pass it to another firm of lawyers. Now I may just be cynical but it seems to me these guys over complicate everything to increase their perceived value and, by definition, their bill. I've been talked to like I'm 9 years old by some spotty faced 30 something in an expensive suit on more than one occasion, I've been kept waiting for over 30 minutes twice and yesterday, the climax of all this tragedy, I was told my logic was unsound by a kid of about 27 who couldn't even manage to tie his shoelaces! So I snapped, hauled him over the table and asked him to give me one good reason why I didn't hospitalise him. My Head of Legal (?) then came into his own talking me down from this precipice. The young prick dusted himself off and exited the room. The Senior Partner said we'd reconvene soon - I suggested when he'd found somebody old enough to do the job without having to take breaks every hour to phone his mum for support. And I left.
Today I've been told the firm is unhappy with me and unless I apologise to this twerp they will bill for what they've done and let me find other lawyers. I won't be apologising.
So I called my mate who's buying from me and suggested we let his lawyer finish the paper crap and I'll sign it. He said OK and that he wouldn't shaft me - I know he won't so that wasn't necessary. Evidently the bill from these clowns is going to be around £150,000 and whilst that seems a lot let's not forget all the childcare costs they must have looking after their junior staff.
I'm now looking at completing the sale next week. My Head of Legal is staying quiet (he'll be my mate's Head of Legal soon and he isn't rocking any boats) and I'm working on trust with somebody I've known for 30 years.
So the lesson I've learned is that the world's second oldest profession is actually way more unscrupulous that the oldest. At least prostitutes don't talk down to you (well not unless you ask them to) and they're usually pretty transparent about the costs associated with their services (including the add-ons). Lawyers are leeches on society and business and I'm very glad I won't be dealing with them ever again.