I posted a short clip a few days back that involved Black Lips drummer Joe Bradley briefly discussing the band’s record label situation. The full discussion on the topic is entitled “Artists As Businesses” and involves a panel additionally including DJ/Fool’s Gold Records founder A-Trak and Greg Anderson, guitarist of the drone metal band Sunn O))) and Southern Lord Records co-founder. All three offer insights on how they got started, the transition from being a band to a ‘professional entity’, the division of labor within bands and their ‘team’, and other functions that go beyond just playing music. Once a band crosses the professional threshold, things naturally become more complicated and there are more worries than merely worrying about dividing the check up amongst band members after playing a show. Lawyers, accountants, business managers, booking agents, and publicists enter the fray, requiring bands to divvy up their gross income amongst these persons. I find this to be very interesting and am eager to check out the other panel discussions that occurred during this Music Conference. A skeptic or a purist might wonder why a car company is involving themselves with underground music and will probably even scoff at the title of this post, but I never got a sense that any of this particular discussion was ‘corporate’ or brand enabling.
Congratulations to Matador Records for taking the cake in this one. The three Matador/True Panther albums that I noted below were securely in my Top 10 Albums of 2010 list. So, good job, Matador! Keep it up and here’s to 21 more years! Sub Pop and Fat Possum, two other large independent labels, put out some great records as well. On the smaller scale, Goner Records, based in Memphis, released a handful (probably even more) of quality records and I can only guess that 2011 will be another great year for that label and store. Burger Records, which has garnered national attention for its release of cassettes, is small as well, but their devotion to music and the bands that they put out is overwhelmingly large. As far as “better luck next year” labels go, we’ve got In The Red. In The Red has been a consistent favorite for me, but nothing that they put out this year really floored me. It was a bit of an off-year for Domino Records as well. Of course, that can go out without saying the year after releasing two stellar records, Merriweather Post Pavilion [Animal Collective] and Humbug [Arctic Monkeys]. EMI did pretty awful, but that’s expected too…it is a major label after all. Warner Brothers was a mixed bag; Devo’s LP was pretty good, but nothing else really tickled my fancy. I know a lot of people were feeling Dr. Dog and the Black Keys (especially) this year.
1. Matador/True Panther Records – Notable Releases: Hippies [Harlem], Gay Singles [Hunx & His Punx], Memphis [Magic Kids]
2. Sub Pop – Notable Releases: Teen Dream [Beach House], I Will Be [Dum Dum Girls], Everything In Between [No Age]
3. Fat Possum Records – Notable Releases: King of the Beach [Wavves], Lisbon [Walkmen]
4. Goner Records – Notable Releases: First Blood [Nobunny], Melted [Ty Segall]
5. Burger Records – Notable Releases: Cum Stain [Cum Stain], Shame, Shame [APACHE]
1. EMI – Un-notable Releases: Of the Blue Colour of the Sky [OK GO], Sea of Cowards [Massive Attack]
2. Domino – Un-notable Releases: There Is Love In You [Four Tet], Hidden [These New Puritans]