Wednesday, January 3, 2018
What does it mean to start a record label in this day and age? Who knows, but we're going to give it a go. There is a crazy amount of really great local talent here in Redlands and the surrounding area. I think it really needs to be bottled up and passed around to the rest of the world. So I'm making that my mission.
I have spent the last 30 years with music as something of a hobby and a part time passion. Something that I was approaching with a "maybe some day" attitude. I've learned a ton over those 30 years and my passion (maybe obsession is a better word) has lead me to build a really decent little studio. And it comes as a little bit of a shock to me that that studio actually allows me to create music with production values to rival anything on the radio. Such is the extent to which digital recording systems have evolved over the last 10 years. It's also deeply apparent to me that reasonably affordable gear has evolved to the degree that the only thing truly in the way of making great sounding music is me.
Anyway, my career making instruments and pickups has been very good to me. I've got a solid ongoing concern that has given me the freedom to investigate one of my most crazy dreams of all - that of finding some success in the music business, er, world. Calling it a business means that in a conventional sense there would be the likely possibility some income would come along.
But in the music world making any kind of income from music is correctly seen as something of a moon shot. Especially in the insane digital wild west we currently find ourselves. The fact is as soon as one digital audio file is out there in the world it can be had for free if someone is determined to find it. The de facto alternative to piracy is a subscription to a streaming service. Which is not all that much better. Owning all the rights to a song that gets payed on Spotify usually results in a payment of about a half a sent per stream. That means unless a track is obscenely successful there is really no appreciable income from streaming.
So, how do we find a sustainable economic model for a label? I have no idea. And honestly, right now I don't care. We will figure it out. Or we won't.
There are of course other ways to generate income. Ari Herstand wrote a pretty decent book about the current music business landscape called How To Make It In The New Music Business. It describes what amounts to a convoluted morass of potential income streams. There are literally dozens of places money can potentially come from. So what kind of maniac would decide it's a good idea to dive into that mess and try to sort it out?
Me! I love puzzles. And this is as complicated and challenging a puzzle as anyone could ever have conceived.
As far as I know at this point, step one is to make killer music. We got that, in my opinion anyway. Which is all I really have to go on as a producer. That and the great feedback I get from folks that I share the music with. In any case I believe enough in this music that I'm going to invest a great deal of time and energy getting it out into the world. Which brings us to step 2.
Step 2 is getting people to listen to that killer music we made. This is where it gets hard. This is where we need to build an infrastructure that includes a website and all the social media accoutrements.
Step 3 is to continue working at step 2. We need to make videos. We need to release tracks digitally. We need to make cd's and vinyl if it seems warranted. We need to make Patreon pages or figure out how to crowd fund our projects. We need to sell swag. We need to figure out how to promote the music and get it on blogs. We need to figure out how to get reviews and publicity. We need to make sure we are aware of the multitude of financial streams and have them all dripping into our coffers.
Whew! That's a lot. And it's probably just the surface.
So, even though there's nearly no money in this pursuit currently I'm putting my time and energy into making it happen. Let's call it sweat equity. I do hope it pays off, mainly because I want as many people as possible to hear the killer tunes we're putting out there.
And actually it looks like I have a handful of people that want to help make this happen, including my amazing life partner Cyndie. Also, Sonia here in the shop is helping with her artistic design skills. And all the artists I'm working with are getting involved as well, including Edward Heppenstall (my Moba Jones partner), Julia Lenhardt, Small Spaces, and Matt Coleman.
It's truly a labor of love. We don't really know what we're doing (not sure that can really be known in this day and age), but we're going to just dive in and do it.
Bottom line, I love music and I love making music. This is what I'm going to do and I will have a lot of help. I hope lots of you like what we do and help make it a viable endeavor.
Thank you. :-)