Owner Interview with Ed of Dark Meadow Recordings
Label: Dark Meadow Recordings
QRD – When & why did you start your label?
Ed – January 2010, to release our first album as Syrinx & my friends’ albums as well as my own & people I like.
QRD – Where did you get the money to finance your first few releases?
Ed – My day job with permission from the wife.
QRD – How many releases have you put out?
Ed – 9 Full Releases, 7 Splits, 2 compilations.
QRD – How many releases would you like to do a year?
Ed – 9 or 10 Full releases, 7 or 8 splits.
QRD – How many hours a week do you work on the label & how many would you like to?
Ed – 6 or 7 per week, I wouldn’t mind working 10.
QRD – What are the fun &/or rewarding parts about running a label?
Ed – Music.
QRD – How have your motivations for having a label changed?
Ed – Not at all, maybe bigger ideas, but always low key.
QRD – What do you feel is the biggest waste of your time running the label?
Ed – Html on websites, it’s very boring.
QRD – What are some labels you admire or feel a kinship to?
Ed – Silber, Drone, Kranky, Amex Nori, Crater, Cubiculo Noise Recording, Roil Noise, Smell the Stench.
QRD – What other work experiences prepared you to have a label?
Ed – Owned a shop, watched other labels. Came up with my own ideas.
QRD – What makes you label special & unique?
Ed – I think the artwork for our main releases are cool, done by my friend & colleague Dave Saunders aka Glowingpixie; & the way it’s run amongst friends, without my mates help I wouldn’t bother. A mixture of music that’s considered unpopular with low runs of releases.
QRD – How has your physical location effected your label?
Ed – It hasn’t, actually its made it more successful as I wouldn’t have met Hoist, Ghoul Detail, Viral Lode, & Glowingpixie other wise.
QRD – Do you enjoy music as much now as you used to & how has running a label effected how you listen to/hear music?
Ed – I have to listen to more music I like & have an excuse to listen to it over & over again.
QRD – What’s your demos policy?
Ed – We don’t have one, I usually contact people directly, we do accept demos for our split series that we do as free download or CD on request, but have only contacted people for them too so far... we usually just say no, because I know who I’m releasing for the next two years anyway & the artists know, there’s only one chap on standby at the moment.
QRD – How do you find out about new artists for your label?
Ed – By emailing them, MySpace is a good start.
QRD – How do most fans find out about your label?
Ed – Forums, MySpace.
QRD – What’s been your biggest selling release & why do you think it was?
Ed – Syrinx - Outbound, because it was the first one we released so people have had more time to buy it.
QRD – What release that you’ve done was the most important & special to you personally?
Ed – Ghoul Detail’s Medicated release, I have been a big fan of his for a number of years, now I get to jam with him regularly & release music together as Syrinx, his release was something that was so exciting for me & his music & presence is a good influence on me.
QRD – What are some things that make you want to work with a band?
Ed – I haven’t worked with bands really, projects yeah, I like to like them, musically & personally. Playing with Nuns, Rei Rea, & Misantronics for instance have labels & like our sounds, we like theirs so it seemed a perfect progression to work with them.
QRD – What are some things that would make you stop working with a band?
Ed – That’s never cropped up, but I guess over egos. I like humble people who know what their expectations are, if it’s too big for me & they want more than what I can offer, then I’ll admit Dark Meadow isn’t right for them at the moment.
QRD – What is the thing all releases on your label have in common?
Ed – They are limited to short runs, they have the unliked to the majority sound.
QRD – How involved are you with a band for acting as a producer as far as hearing demo ideas or selecting tracks to be on a release or mixing & mastering?
Ed – The main artists are friends of mine, I work with Ghoul Detail & Glowingpixie, so opinions & ideas fly back & forth, the other artists I let do what they want to do, they kind of have an idea of what we like, but it’s more about artist experimentation. I don’t select tracks, unless it’s my own stuff. I offer opinions if wanted.
QRD – How involved do you like to be in the artwork design for a release?
Ed – I am always involved with opinions, but again Dave knows what we like & knows how to pull things off...
QRD – How long is it from when an artist delivers an album to you until release date & why?
Ed – I ask for the tracks 20 days before
release, because it gives me time to send it to the printers & so I
can listen to it & prepare things like websites & artwork, etc.
Ed – I don’t work with bands really, Syrinx is the only one & I’m in it & we’re not going to split up between albums. The rest may split up with themselves, but they haven’t signed anything, all they’ll do is make me slightly unhappy.
QRD – What do you wish bands on your label would do?
Ed – I wish they do things that make them happy.
QRD – What’s a record you’d like to put out that you’ll never be able to?
Ed – I want to do an album of forest sounds for the forestry commission. Maybe an anti Canadian Seal Hunt album featuring sounds of seals beating humans over the head.
QRD – If you really like a band, but aren’t sure you could sell many copies of their record; what do you do?
Ed – I only contact people who are going to sell a minimal amount of copies. Numbers doesn’t matter to me; if I like their sounds & have the room then I’ll put them in the roster. If they sell more than 80 then we’d have unhappy fans, fans’ll have to be quick with their fave artists next album.
QRD – How is financing of a release split between artists & the label?
Ed – I pay for releasing it, they pay for their time, which most of the time is free as they do it all themselves.
QRD – How do you split profits from a release between artists & your label?
Ed – No one has asked for any money, most are just happy to have things released & receive copies of their albums, I do offer royalties if I sell enough to cover printing, production etc... but like I say, no one has said “Pay me.” Dark Meadow isn’t a profit making label, we just release more of the artists’ stuff with the money that’s made.
QRD – Do you have written contracts with your bands or handshake deals?
Ed – No contracts have ever been signed or talked about, the artists can release where & when they like.
QRD – Do you take a cut of a band’s publishing?
Ed – No.
QRD – How important is it to you to have touring acts on your roster & what do you do to encourage it?
Ed – No one I work with is bothered about touring, they’ll do it if they wanted; but they’ve all expressed negativity in making a show to misunderstanding audiences.
QRD – Do you handle promotions in house or hire out & why?
Ed – In house, I prefer it that way.
QRD – How do you maintain contact with your fanbase?
Ed – Forums, MySpace, once I have people’s addresses or emails I send them free stuff now & again, shops have taken freebees too.
QRD – Do you have intern & street team programs & if so, how do they operate?
Ed – No.
QRD – How big of a staff do you have & how big of one do you need?
Ed – 3, Dave, Jon, & I. I do most things, but Jon works on the production of artwork & Dave does the artwork; but they offer opinions & ideas happen between the three of us.
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with record stores, radio stations, magazines, & websites?
Ed – Send them free stuff,
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with bloggers?
Ed – I don’t.
QRD – Do you view advertisements as a way to generate interest & revenue or more as a way to financially support magazines & websites you like?
Ed – They are very good if we could afford them. I find it a good way of hearing about things.
QRD – What is the job of your distributors?
Ed – To send a mail-out telling people they have our stuff, we only have small numbers going to distributors as we sell ourselves on our site.
QRD – How do you decide how big the initial pressing of a release should be?
Ed – Think that we only do 80, we are working on a collaboration between Syrinx & Jessica Bailiff so that’ll have more to cover more costs & because Jessica Bailiff is a legend in our eyes, cult figure, 100 seems right to me. Her music alone is worth more & I could easily sell more, but it’s more about experimenting between the two artists.
QRD – What percentage of a pressing do you use for promotions?
Ed – I usually distribute about 20 to reviewers, friends, radio.
QRD – Do you sell merchandise other than the music (t-shirts, etc.)?
Ed – No.
QRD – Do you sell music that is not on your label?
Ed – No.
QRD – How has running a label effected your own artistic career?
Ed – I can make my music & have a home for it.
QRD – Ideally, would you release your own material?
Ed – I do. Ideally I wouldn’t, but Dark Meadow is my only home.
QRD – What do you do to try to build a sense of community within your roster?
Ed – Yeah we know how to contact each other, but it ends up me just talking at everyone. :)
QRD – What’s your most common conversation with bands as far as balancing artistic integrity & financial viability?
Ed – “Do you want to do an album for us?”
QRD – How often do you look at your “return on investment” & adjust your business model?
Ed – I don’t.
QRD – Do you worry about search engine optimization & website traffic?
Ed – If it goes up then I like it, if its unchanged I wonder why, if it goes down I release something new or put out a new blog.
QRD – What have you done to cut costs over the years?
Ed – Nothing.
QRD – Do you think the album format is dead?
Ed – I wouldn’t do it if I thought it was, I just do smaller runs.
QRD – Do you think the return of vinyl & cassettes is a fad?
Ed – Return? Did they go away? Fad to me might be pleasure to others, I’m happy if they want to fund such products, I will buy them.
QRD – Is it important to have physical releases over digital ones or does it not matter?
Ed – Yes, it matters loads to me, but I cater for both.
QRD – What do you think of ultra-limited runs of releases (less than 100 discs)?
Ed – Awesome. I like the idea, & keep to it.
QRD – What do you think of “print on demand” discs?
Ed – Very good also, our full releases won’t go down that route, but our splits & promos just send me an email.
QRD – How much content do you feel should be available free to fans?
Ed – Loads, almost 60% of our stuff is free. I didn’t want to do it, but my goal was to get the music itself heard, not make profits from someone else’s work. If the artists want to make money then they won’t release on our label, that’s not what the music we make is about.
QRD – What do you do about people distributing your music without financial compensation (piracy & file trading)?
Ed – Don’t care. They can have it. As long as they listen to it.
QRD – What’s something you see other labels do that you think of as borderline unethical?
Ed – Signing & releasing too much stuff. Concentrate on those you have.
QRD – What changes in things would cause you to stop your label?
Ed – My wife saying she’s had enough of me spending cash on people’s music. It won’t happen I don’t think.
QRD – What would you suggest to someone starting a label today?
Ed – “Do it, send me some stuff, I’ll send you some of mine. We’ll do a label split if you like.”
QRD – Where do you think money is currently most available to labels/musicians & where in the future?
Ed – I don’t think about money. Make money from music if you want to, I don’t believe it helps my sort of music, so I have no idea where the money is made.
QRD – Why do you think labels are still important to artists?
Ed – Getting physical releases with artistic control.
QRD – Music has had different hotspots on the internet over the years (newsgroups, MP3.com, MySpace, LastFM), but with MySpace’s decline, what do you see as the place where “normal” people go to find out about & get excited by new music?
Ed – Just look on the net, MySpace has only declined because it’s just full of bands & hardly fans. Fans are now bands that can’t buy because they’re funding their own bands. Nice to have a chat though.
QRD – In 20 years what do you think/hope your label will be known/remembered for?
Ed – In 20 years I’d like to walk the coast of Britain, while listening to some of my fave Dark Meadow releases. I don’t mind if no one remembers us; it’s not about the label, more about the artists. 20 years we’ll probably have children that’s got children & the “look what granddad did” conversation will be the only remembrance.