By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Thank God for Man’s Ruin existing so that I could see what not to do. Man‘s Ruin was a big inspiration. They were one of the first labels that was really putting out, and really supporting, the heavy music scene. Here’s a label that I thought was just brilliant as far as some of the releases, the artwork and everything. The respect that I have for [Man‘s Ruin owner] Frank Kozik is that he was really passionate about what he did, and he came from a real artist’s perspective. But he didn‘t know how to run a business. The main flaw was quality control. At one point, it was like if a band had even heard of Kyuss, Fu Manchu, or owned a Big Muff pedal, Man’s Ruin was gonna put it out. I was appalled at some of the shit he was putting out.
I‘m a fanatic about pretty much every song on every release. I wouldn’t put out a record and go, “Yeah, it‘s okay.” I want everything that I put out to have real quality. And I’m really proud that Southern Lord is starting to get a name for itself. There are a certain amount of people that we‘ve built as a following that are gonna buy our stuff, no matter what. They like my taste, and I don’t deviate too far. I‘ve done a few kinda different releases, but people were into it.
EMBRACE ALL MODES OF
Our main distributor is Caroline, they account for about 70 to 80 percent of our sales in the U.S. And the rest go through smaller distributors in smaller quantities.
The Internet has definitely changed distribution. There’s all these cool people who are into this certain kind of music, and they‘ll sell it on their own Web sites and fill orders out of their bedroom. I’ll do a couple boxes of CDs consistently with them.
Our Web store accounts for a good percentage of our income. And of course I get tons of mail orders through my post office box. We do a 7-inch singles club, six a year, and those go like wildfire. I like to do vinyl for as many projects as I can, because I like the sound and the packaging, but it‘s expensive. And at the distributor level, my sales of vinyl have gone down so much. It’s mostly mail order for vinyl. If a band tours, that‘s where you can really sell it.
I deal directly with as many record stores as I can. People working at record stores, they like talking to labels anyways ’cause they wanna be able to get on the guest list when your bands are coming on tour, or to try to get the bands to come into the store and sign shit. So whenever I get an e-mail or a phone call from a store, they‘re like, “Uh, can we get a play copy or a poster?” I’m like, “How ‘bout dealing direct?” ’Cause that way they‘ll remember you, they’ll put up your posters, and you get the money immediately. You don‘t have to wait 90 days for your distributor to pay you, minus the returns, minus the charge-backs for advertising. Dealing direct is where you really make your connection with the store.
People come up to me all the time and say, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but when I first heard your record, I burned it from a friend -- but then I went out and bought it! And I got a T-shirt too!” I love how people try to justify it with me. They wanna support the artist. Maybe if the first exposure is someone burns them a mix CD or they get something off the Internet, then that‘s the thing, they’re gonna go out and buy that, they‘re probably gonna go see the band in a club. They wanna go to the shows and pay. Because they know if that doesn’t happen, the artist ain‘t coming back down to their town. I think, at this level at least, that people can make that correlation.
ONLY ALLY WITH BANDS THAT ARE WILLING TO CONQUER.
With payment and royalties, it’s a profit split, 5050 between the label and the bands. So I always tell bands, “I‘m gonna work hard. I need you guys to do the same, because we’re both splitting the money. So if you guys don‘t tour, if you don’t go out there and self-promote, if you don‘t do all this stuff that you should be doing to get your name out there, then the record’s not gonna sell” and I might not do another record with them. I do a certain job and I expect the bands to do a certain job. I‘m responsible for everything, and I try not to fuck up. I think bands can see that. You don’t have to go through five people to get your answer. It‘s me, and I’ll tell you straight up what the answer is.
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