An opinion article by Joseph Timmons, Xombiewoof Magazine
The Independent Music labels of America are breathing and thriving due to the need for real and honest love of Music.
I would like to start this article by saying that I do not think I am an expert on the music industry, in fat anyone that does think they know everything and have the “winning formula” most likely do not and should exit the room right now. Back when I was young, one of my fondest memories was going to the local record store on Fridays after I got my allowance, the record store was, for me, a place of wonder. I would take my few dollars and browse the 45s or if I was lucky that week, the LP sections and make that painful decision of what record I would bring home and what would have to wait till the following week.
There was a certain philosophy in my mind that the record I hose would be a step forward in my path to greatness, the bands I liked were for me a way to connect with those that thought like me, that said what I was thinking and more, a bond of music connecting me to something greater than myself. Listening to bands that inspired me to think and feel, lead me to becoming a drummer, the first time I heard Vanilla Fudge, Cream, King Crimson and others that spoke to me and me alone helped develop who I was and am. Frank Zappa and Tom Waits, The B52’s and Talking Heads… Legends in Wax.
Somewhere around the late 80’s and early 90’s the record industry failed us, the pursuit of glamorous money and the departure from substance to profit made the joy of music stale, the advance of technology made the music too easy to produce and the concept of digital music streaming, once thought of as a way to get music to the masses faster, became the place of illegal downloads and the loss of worth, so it seemed, music was becoming dull and tasteless.
For those of us that held music to a higher standard, it became a pain rather than a pleasure and the rule of the Boy Bands and Autotune was drowning out the call to worship, and the record Collector was without options.
Thank the gods of Vinyl that today we have the independent record producers today!
Due to the advance of technology and the industrial nature of man and the music lover, the indie label scene is thriving and more record labels are opening shop on the internet daily. Labels like Hidden Volume, Philthy Phonographic Records, Fat Elvis Records, Say-10 Records and more are bringing to the light of day artists that we would never hear of if the present record industry giants would still reign supreme. Internet sites such as Bandcamp give us ways to hear, sample and purchase albums from all over the world and hear music that means something to us on whatever level our mind is at, simply splendid really.
The limited runs of the smaller labels does have its downfall if you don’t buy a title the day it comes out you may “miss” an opportunity to hold a rarity in your collection, but many of the small labels have banded together to do distribution between them, so the spirit of mutual support and fair competition is holding to a philosophy of mutual and supportive existence, the labels are producing Zines and keeping with the early Rolling Stone theory of the power of music is the path to intelligence, the sharing of wisdom and the key to nirvana is in the vibe and the tone arm of the turntable is the wand of power. I know, I hold a very glamorous view of music and I wax poetic of the Record, but in life you have to have something to believe in.
Now, don’t get me wrong, making records in not an inexpensive prospect, and for as many labels succeed, many fail, there is still a place for CD’s, Digital copies of music, Music Streaming services and even the Cassette tape is on the way back into our hearts, Radio manufacturers are coming out with the boom box, ghetto blaster styles again and even some bands are doing 8-Tracks as the rare one off (Whaaaaaaaaaa?), but Vinyl, that is my medium of choice.
In the coming months, I will be doing several articles, stories interviews, and for those that like the sound of my voice, podcasts about the Indie Record Label Scene, interviews with artists, producers and managers as well as with label operators, with luck, possibly some video interviews as well.
My suggestion to you, get to the thrift store or get online, find a turntable, hell, get to the local box store and pick up a Crosley record player for less than 100 bucks and then get on Bandcamp, search out the unique sounds out there, or get on Facebook and search “Record Labels” you will find an infinite number of resources, come back and check out our blog again, or http://www.xombiewoof.com, we will have a list of Indie Labels you can choose from to make your moments magical again, as for me, I’m dusting off the shelves for some more albums that just showed up via UPS yesterday, good thing my wife does not mind my love for records, but I do need to build an extension on my home, the record room is getting a bit crowded.