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QRD #45 - Record Label Owner Interview Series
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Label Owner Interviews with:
Badman Recording Co.
Boring Machines
Champion Version
Dark Meadow Recordings
End of huM
Exotic Fever
Fluttery Records
Fourth Dimension/Lumberton Trading Company
Greyday Records
Lagunamuch Records
Morc Records
Moving Furniture
North Pole Records
Radical Matters Editions/Label
Second Motion Entertainment
Silber Records
Trace Recordings
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loscil by rob bridgettjonas reinhardt by alexandra macarthurboduf songs by jessica sweetken camden by matt jencikken camden by matt jencik
loscil by rob bridgett
Label Owner Interview with mr. kranky of kranky
November 2010

Name: mr. kranky
Label: kranky
Artists Roster: numerous
Websites: kranky.net

QRD – When & why did you start your label?

mr. kranky – The label was started in 1993 specifically to release the debut album by Labradford.

QRD – Where did you get the money to finance your first few releases?

mr. kranky – I worked other jobs & saved.

QRD – How many releases have you put out?

mr. kranky – About 150 at the moment.

QRD – How many releases would you like to do a year?

mr. kranky – We don’t plan on any number of releases in a given year, we release things as artists complete them. But in general we average 10-12 releases annually.

QRD – What are the fun &/or rewarding parts about running a label?

mr. kranky – The music & the artists we work with.

QRD – What other work experiences prepared you to run a label?

mr. kranky – None.

QRD – What makes your label special & unique?

mr. kranky – The artists we work with.

QRD – How has your physical location effected your label?

mr. kranky – Not at all.

QRD – What‚s your demos policy?

mr. kranky – We listen to them.

QRD – How do you find out about new artists for your label?

mr. kranky – However we can.

QRD – How do most fans find out about your label?

mr. kranky – You would have to ask them.

QRD – What are some things that make you want to work with an artist?

mr. kranky – Only one, their talents.

QRD – What is the thing all releases on your label have in common?

mr. kranky – Quality.

QRD – What do you wish bands on your label would do?

mr. kranky – Sell more copies of their releases.

QRD – If you really like a band, but aren’t sure you could sell many copies of their record; what do you do?

mr. kranky – We do what we always do, sign them & release an album. The decision to work with any artist is based strictly on their art, not on commerce. We are never “sure” that we can sell many copies of a debut release from an artist; it’s a crapshoot at best. I can live with an album that I love that doesn’t sell that well, but I can’t at all imagine living with an album that I don’t love.

QRD – How is financing of a release split between artists & the label?

mr. kranky – The label finances all releases.

QRD – How do you split profits from a release between artists & your label?

mr. kranky – It’s a 50/50 profit split.

QRD – Do you have written contracts with your bands or handshake deals?

mr. kranky – Contracts.

QRD – Do you take a cut of a band‚s publishing?

mr. kranky – Absolutely not.

QRD – How important is it to you to have touring acts on your roster & what do you do to encourage it?

mr. kranky – It helps, but it’s a thankless job for most artists working at this level & we have never asked anyone to tour.

QRD – Do you handle promotions in house or hire out & why?

mr. kranky – In house for all but a few releases.

QRD – Do you view advertisements as a way to generate interest & revenue or more as a way to financially support magazines & websites you like?

mr. kranky – Strictly as a way to support media outlets that support us.

QRD – What is the job of your distributors?

mr. kranky – To fill orders.

QRD – How do you decide how big the initial pressing of a release should be?

mr. kranky – Educated guess.

QRD – Do you sell merchandise other than the music (t-shirts, etc.)?

mr. kranky – We sell t-shirts & hoodies & random non-kranky releases from artists we work with.

QRD – How has running a label effected your own artistic career?

mr. kranky – I don’t have one.

QRD – What’s your most common conversation with artists as far as balancing artistic integrity & financial viability?

mr. kranky – I have never had that conversation with any artist.

QRD – Do you think the album format is dead?

mr. kranky – No.

QRD – Do you think the return of vinyl & cassettes is a fad?

mr. kranky – I don’t know.

QRD – Is it important to have physical releases over digital ones or does it not matter?

mr. kranky – It matters at the moment.

QRD – What do you think of ultra-limited runs of releases (less than 100 discs)?

mr. kranky – I don’t think of them.

QRD – What do you think of “print on demand” discs?

mr. kranky – I don’t think of them.

QRD – What do you do about people distributing your music without financial compensation (piracy & file trading)?

mr. kranky – It’s sad. Most of the artists we work do not make a living from their art. If I showed up at someone’s job on payday & grabbed their paycheck as they were about to receive it, that would be wrong. I see these activities as the same thing.

QRD – What’s something you see other labels do that you think of as borderline unethical?

mr. kranky – Existing.

QRD – What would you suggest to someone starting a label today?

mr. kranky – Don’t.

QRD – Why do you think labels are still important to artists?

mr. kranky – It’s an established brand. As much as people would like to believe that the internet means you can be your own label, very few people have succeeded with that model.

QRD – In 20 years what do you think/hope your label will be known/remembered for?

mr. kranky – Releases that stand the test of time.