It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to run my own record label, so when I got offered a chance to operate my own boutique label for one month as research for this article, you better believe I jumped at it.
I learned a lot of things on this brief journey, and let me tell you, music fans: it was an experience that I’ll treasure forever. It deepened my appreciation for music, opened my eyes to the inner workings of the industry, and forever alienated me from all of my closest friends and relatives.
Before I started running Meltbonanza Records, I thought that a label owner’s job was to cultivate talent. Matador, Sub Pop, Drag City, SST – that’s how they all got their start, right? Finding killer music and putting it out into the world.
I was so wrong.
A label owner’s job is to ask everyone they know to throw their own hard-earned money into the kitty. It’s like being a cigarette moocher, but instead of cigs you’re bumming college funds, 401Ks, and rainy day savings. And let me tell you something – I was good. No, you know what? I was GREAT at it.
The fact that almost all of my friends are currently taking me to small claims court only proves how good I was at getting people to invest in such a risky, no-payoff venture.
Within two weeks, I had mastered the art of guilt-tripping my friends into “supporting the scene” so well that I was able to pay for the rights to reissue a Boredoms album that was still in print! Only this album would come in a gatefold sandpaper sleeve with a multicolored vinyl disc that exploded if you played it backward. Pretty amazing, right? It was so worth every penny that I’ll never be able to pay back because I spent all of those pennies on a record that blows up when you play it backward.
I spent so much money on advances and legal fees that it’ll be years, maybe decades before I’m in a financial position to pay any of my loved ones back. And my credit rating? Let’s just say I didn’t even know that credit numbers could go THAT low. But whatever – nobody gets into music to make money. I know I sure didn’t!