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Best $600 ever spent: Sub Pop shares Nirvana's original contract

Seattle's Sub Pop has just released the original recording contract with Nirvana. Suffice it to say it's the best $600 they ever spent. (Sub Pop Records)

When it comes to investing, few deals are better than the one Seattle's Sub Pop records signed with Kurt Cobain and the original members of Nirvana when the band was first starting out.

The label has just posted a copy of the first recording contract for Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Chad Channing and Jason Everman. It's noteworthy in its simplicity, and the fact that for just $600, Sub Pop ended up with "Bleach" - the biggest selling album in its history.

The deal called for Nirvana to deliver an initial album after the contract took effect in January 1, 1989, then gave both sides two option years that would have required two additional albums.

After Bleach, Kurt Cobain was increasingly unhappy with what he perceived to be Sub Pop's lack of support and promotion for the album. The band, having jettisoned Channing and Everman for Dave Grohl, signed with David Geffen's burgeoning music label. Geffen bought out the contract, and the rest is history.

Nirvana's next release, "Nevermind," would become an international sensation. But don't cry for Sub Pop. Although "Bleach" sold a modest 40,000 copies before "Nevermind," it would ultimately sell over 1 million copies after the success of "Nevermind," a re-release, and Cobain's untimely death.

Not bad for $600.

About the Author


Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He covers everything from May Day riots in Seattle to the latest Boeing news.

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