While there’s lots of bad news stories around at the moment about the state of the music industry new label Choose My Music have bucked this trend, securing funds to release their first six LPs is 2013 on Kickstarter in just 15 hours. Sarah Lay talks to label founder Dom Paczko.
On 12 February 2013 another music-related Kickstarter was released into the wilds of the web. Choose My Music Records was looking to raise £1,200 to fund six LP releases during 2013. In just 15 hours they’d met that target and with nine days still to run for pledges to be made the grand total now stands at £2, 223 (at time of writing).
There’s lots of talk, and plenty of evidence, that the music industry is struggling in lots of ways at the moment. Partly the impact of the internet, partly a culture shift which sees people expecting to get music for free, and partly the economic climate. So why launch a record label against that back drop?
Choose My Music started off as a personal music blog for Dom Paczko. In the beginning he would ask people to pick records from his collection and he’d then write about them, gradually expanding to actively seek out new indie music for the site.
This search for new music led to the State of Music project which saw Dom pick an indie band or label from each of the states in America, interviewing them for the blog and generally trying to bring their music to a wider audience in the UK. Five compilation albums followed as well as featured spots on BBC 6Music, Amazing Radio and Q Radio as well as numerous community and internet stations and blogs.
As his musical tour of discovery came to an end but feeling that he wasn’t yet done with being a label and taste-maker Dom decided to continue on with Choose My Music and set up as a full label and began to think about how to fund the project.
“Originally I was going to go for just a simple straight forward album pre-sale through the website, but I figured using Kickstarter would possibly open us up to a wider audience through people just browsing their website.
“I remember the sense of dread when I clicked the ‘Launch Project’ button on day one. It was an all or nothing thing for me. My thought was that we might just scrape the target after the 22 day deadline, it actually only took us 15 hours which was hugely unexpected.
“The response was just phenomenal and I am grateful to everyone who has supported the project. I guess, for me it has been a period of emotional reinforcement that I am on the right path and doing something that people actually enjoy.”
More artists and labels are turning to crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Pledge in order to secure buy-in and money up front for projects, often offering rewards to those willing to offer financial support. In essence the model replaces the old advance system from record companies, allowing artists to cover costs and be in with a chance of making a living wage from what they create.
Is this way of securing funding something that Dom would recommend to others given the success he’s already seen with his own label?
“For me it has worked really well, I have been astonished by the response, but it can sometimes be a risk for bands and labels.
“Not hitting target would have been a crushing blow after all of our hard work during 2012, and it did cross my mind that if I failed to meet the target I would seriously consider the future of Choose My Music Records. I don’t mean that to sound like I would be chucking my toys out of the pram but it would have really made me think if the label would be worth pursuing.
“I have found that using the crowd funding system it has really helped people to buy into Choose My Music Records as a label and it is always nice to know that so many people have faith in what you are trying to do.”
The funding window for Choose My Music Records closes on 6 March and the release date for the first long player is slated for early April. Is Dom ready for what happens now?
“It is really starting to dawn on me what I have let myself in for this year, not only are we releasing albums by Flashbulb Fires, DEERPEOPLE, L’anarchiste, Unsung, Social Scientists and The Revolving Birds we also have a planed series of four free compilation albums called New Music For Mondays coming out during 2013 (Vol.1 is out now).
“The real aim is to get some of these bands more recognition in the UK, and most of them have expressed interest in coming over and playing in the UK.
“I feel that all of our bands for 2013 would fit well into the music scene here and could make a strong impact. I would love to help these bands play UK tours, but the costs involved are pretty astronomical without being able to get them a decent support slot, and these are like gold dust for a small label in my position.”