Owner Interview with Wim Lecluyse of Morc Records
Name: Wim Lecluyse
Label: Morc Records
Artists Roster: Edgar Wappenhalter, Winter’s Day, Circle Bros, Drekka, Puddle Parade, Soccer Committee, Karina ESP, Annelies Monseré, Jessica Bailiff, Iditarod
Websites: www.morctapes.com, www.twitter.com/morctapes, www.facebook.com/morctapes, www.myspace.com/morctapes
QRD – When & why did you start your label?
Wim – Around 1998 I heard about stuff like tape labels & it seemed cool to have one myself. So I put a label name on the tapes I recorded myself (in an edition of 1 copy). The name stuck after I made it into a “real” tape label.
QRD – Where did you get the money to finance your first few releases?
Wim – The first tapes cost me nothing to make. The first CD I put out, in 2001, was paid for by doing a student job.
QRD – How many releases have you put out?
Wim – 56, it seems. But the first 8 or so weren’t real releases - just private recordings on which I’ve put a catalog number.
QRD – How many releases would you like to do a year?
Wim – these days, I do about 3-4 LPs/CDs/EPs per year. That’s about all I can handle time wise, so I’m happy with that number.
QRD – How many hours a week do you work on the label & how many would you like to?
Wim – Some weeks 0, some weeks 16? I’m glad I don’t really pay attention.
QRD – What are the fun &/or rewarding parts about running a label?
Wim – When you hold the finished copies of a new releases that you enjoy both musically & visually & that you know that it would not have been released if you didn’t do it is quite a good feeling.
QRD – What are some labels you admire or feel a kinship to?
Wim – During the very first days, tape labels like Kaw, Studio Muscle, & Best Kept Secret. Later on, labels like BBPTC, Unread, Kraak, Kranky, Evelyn, & especially Bluesanct have become huge inspirations. I’m glad I got the chance to work with some of these people as well.
QRD – What makes you label special & unique?
Wim – The artists on the label.
QRD – Do you enjoy music as much now as you used to & how has running a label effected how you listen to/hear music?
Wim – I got less tolerant for bad music. Such a waste.
QRD – What’s your demos policy?
Wim – I never put more energy in listening to a demo than what the person that sent it to me did. eg: sending a MySpace link with a generic message: you press send, I press delete. When someone sends me a collection of songs selected especially for Morc & a letter saying why he or she likes Morc; I’ll definitely listen to it several times.
QRD – What’s been your biggest selling release & why do you think it was?
Wim – I think the Jessica Bailiff CD ‘old
things’. I hope because people like it a lot?
QRD – What release that you’ve done was the most important & special to you personally?
Wim – I think I can tell a story about why I love every single release. If I can’t, I probably should have not put out that release in the first place. I think I’m proud of every release on Morc.
QRD – What are some things that make you want to work with a band?
Wim – I love the music. The music needs to be released & if Morc would not to do it, it would probably remain unreleased for some reason. Also, I need to like the people that are in the band.
QRD – What are some things that would make you stop working with a band?
Wim – The band splits up?
QRD – What is the thing all releases on your label have in common?
Wim – I love the music.
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?
Wim – Not. Most of the time, I get to hear a few tracks before I decide whether I’ll put out a release or not, but final product is still a surprise for me as well. Always turned out well thus far.
QRD – How involved do you like to be in the artwork design for a release?
Wim – As much as the artists want. I do give some guidelines as for packaging size, etc. though.
QRD – How long is it from when an artist delivers an album to you until release date & why?
Wim – It takes about two months to get the physical copies done & have those shipped to the bands & distros.
QRD – What’s a record you’d like to put out that you’ll never be able to?
Wim – I’d say a record by an artist I love, but has stopped making music. Maybe the new Mark Hollis record? He’d fit perfectly.…
QRD – If you really like a band, but aren’t sure you could sell many copies of their record; what do you do?
Wim – Release it, but only produce as many copies as seems reasonable to me.
QRD – How is financing of a release split between artists & the label?
Wim – Recording is financed by the artist. Mastering, production, etc. by the label. Wish I could pay for the recording as well, but there’s really no budget.
QRD – How do you split profits from a release between artists & your label?
Wim – 15% of the copies + 50% after break even.
QRD – Do you have written contracts with your bands or handshake deals?
Wim – Handshakes. Even if I’d write contracts, they would have no legal value, so what’s the point? I think I don’t trust labels & artists that require contracts for DIY/low budget releases.
QRD – Do you take a cut of a band’s publishing?
Wim – Only from Annelies Monseré. But that’s a unique situation.
QRD – How important is it to you to have touring acts on your roster & what do you do to encourage it?
Wim – Not important. Some music is just not made to be performed 80 times per year.
QRD – How do you maintain contact with your fanbase?
Wim – Email & catching up at shows maybe? Social media are still very much one-way communication.
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with radio stations, magazines, websites, & bloggers?
Wim – Not much, though a few have been really supportive. I noticed that having a good relationship with artists & distributors is most important, & that’s already time consuming enough.
QRD – What is the job of your distributors?
Wim – Spreading the word amongst people that are really interested. & spreading the releases.
QRD – How do you decide how big the initial pressing of a release should be?
Wim – Anything from 100 copies on. I don’t think a physical release with a smaller pressing is eventual more of a collectors item, so the music just gets to be a “detail” on that - not always to the band’s fault though.
QRD – What percentage of a pressing do you use for promotions?
Wim – LPs: 0%. CDs: 10% maybe? I try to use as many downloads as possible.
QRD – Do you sell merchandise other than the music (t-shirts, etc.)?
Wim – I make Morc buttons & zines. Though these are for free.
QRD – Do you sell music that is not on your label?
Wim – No. Running a distro is a whole different thing. Most of the people that I know that tried to combine it saw it end in a financial disaster that hit both themselves as well as the labels that they carried.
QRD – Has running a label effected your own artistic career?
Wim – Yes. I have less time to work on my own music.
QRD – Ideally, would you release your own material?
Wim – No. It feels silly trying to sell yourself.
QRD – What do you do to try to build a sense of community within your roster?
Wim – I make sure that people who are on the roster know each other’s music. & if they happen to be in the same area, try to get them in touch with each other.
QRD – What’s your most common conversation with bands as far as balancing artistic integrity & financial viability?
Wim – I never talked about financial viability with a band. That’s not their responsibility.
QRD – How often do you look at your “return on investment” & adjust your business model?
Wim – Eh? Business model? As for ROI: I know when a release is break-even or not. But most of the investment is non-financial. So when I feel good about a release, I’m glad about the return on the investment.
QRD – What have you done to cut costs over the years?
Wim – Releasing the right amount of copies.
QRD – Do you think the album format is dead?
Wim – For people hooked on downloads, probably yes. For me, no.
QRD – Do you think the return of vinyl & cassettes is a fad?
Wim – Cassettes: most likely. With CDs being available in runs of 100 copies for very reasonable prices, I think tapes are more a collector’s object than a good way to present your music. Vinyl, definitely not. Some music (organic drones & folk especially) just sounds better on vinyl.
QRD – Is it important to have physical releases over digital ones or does it not matter?
Wim – Physical releases are important to me. I hardly listen to MP3s, so I don’t see why I would put out a digital only release.
QRD – What do you think of “print on demand” discs?
Wim – I’d never buy one. Most of my CDRs skip.
QRD – What’s something you see other labels do that you think of as borderline unethical?
Wim – Releasing bad music by bands that are popular in some way. Trying to have more influence on the final release than the artist wants.
QRD – What changes in things would cause you to stop your label?
Wim – All good musicians having found a better home than Morc.
QRD – Where do you think money is currently most available to labels/musicians & where in the future?
Wim – Day jobs.
QRD – In 20 years, what do you think/hope your label will be known/remembered for?
Wim – I really don’t care if people will remember Morc, as long as they remember the albums they heard that were on Morc.…
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