The life of an independent record label owner

Before I finished my studies at SAE Institute in Rotterdam (Bachelor in Audio Production), I had to write a thesis on ‘alternative ways to to run an independent record label in response to the vinyl resurgence’. It was a wonderful experience and learning curve for me, because it gave me insights in the life of such companies, the way they operate in a quickly evolving music industry, and of course the struggles. As my company Signalfire works with countless independent record labels and artists, we found it a good time to chat about some great, independent record labels we’ve been fan of and bought vinyl from — and talk about their independent approaches.

Tracy at ZamZam Sounds / Polygon Press

The first example of an independent record label that has been in operation for a good few years is ZamZam Sounds from Portland, United States. They release dub-oriented sound system music on a monthly basis and are doing one hell of a good job. The way they push their brand, music releases and art is what makes them so succesful — and dedicate all their free time to ensure the highest standards in sound. Ezra & Tracy know how to curate, handle and ship their stock to all parts of the world. Life ain’t easy when your house is full of records — see the picture of Tracy above hugging .

Encrypted Audio —

Encrypted Audio, the dubstep blueprint runned by Tony Riley & Rich Weston, has done a great job in shining light on their (newcoming) dubstep artists. In fact, they’ve given them the opportunity to release on wax since the beginning of 2015. The label distributes a big part of each pressing via its Bandcamp account, with the remainder of stock to hit the usual vinyl vendours that ship them out across the globe. Imagine going to the postal office with 150 vinyl packets, t-shirts and other gear under the slogan ‘Coded in sound’. Awesome!

Crucial Recordings cleaning out the shelves

Music producer Sleeper, label owner of Crucial Recordings, does the independent trick by selling thru Bandcamp and the help of our good friends and (vinyl/digital) distribution companies Unearthed Sounds & Railbird-Digital. The dark artwork that is accompanied with every release gives the wax a ‘refreshing’ look, just wait until you hear the music. With Sleeper’s interesting way of presenting material through videos, short hints and artist mixes allows him to stay connected with his ever-growing fan base.

It’s good to see independent labels (and record stores) grow in response to the vinyl resurgence. It feels like vinyl is back on the right track to become the number 1 format, but who knows.. time will tell.

Thanks for reading.

Olaf — Signalfire