It doesn’t matter if people are talking about books, movies or records – the commercial development of an artist is the same.
Usually, there is a triple-tier contract…
Break-even – The first project covers the costs, if not more.
Break-point – The second project is when the income is doubled.
Breakthrough – The third project is when the income is tripled.
For example, Slayer really broke through with their third album – Reign in Blood. How much money that a company receives depends on how much that they want to spend. If they have limited expectations, they will have limited budgets.
Artists often complain that they don’t get advertised enough but the companies are just being sensible about the demands of the market. There’s only so much money that can go into one project before the company’s other projects are taken into consideration.
That’s why a lot of bands and authors never go beyond a certain plateau. Other artists (from the same company) become more popular, so it makes more sense to pour more money into them. Facebook and Twitter have become invaluable because an artist’s company can predict how many copies will sell. It’s becoming common for a literary agent to ask the author to reveal their Twitter page or even their blog.
If an artist is given accommodation and nutrition by the company (i.e. a trailer during film production or a hotel suite during a publicity tour), the company won’t be generous with their cheques unless the artist has a considerable amount of appeal. What distinguishes books from albums and movies is that timing is less of a factor. Releasing a novel in the spring is no less effective than releasing it in autumn. Books are the most flexible of the products because they can be used anywhere.