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QRD #52 - Indie Label Interview Series
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Interview with Indie Label Owner Zdenko Franjic of Listen Loudest!
March 2011
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Name: Zdenko Franjic
Label: Slusaj Najglasnije! (Listen Loudest!) – for music; Bratstvo Dusa (Brotherhood of Souls) – for books
City: Zagreb, Croatia
Websites: www.gla.ac.uk/~dc4w/listenloudest/front.html, www.myspace.com/slusajnajglasnije, www.myspace.com/lutajucidjzdena, http://www.myspace.com/babilonci

QRD – When & why did you start your label?

Zdenko – I started in 1988.

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

Zdenko – I worked in a bank archive.

QRD – How many releases have you put out?

Zdenko – I stopped counting. I think over 400.

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

Zdenko – Lately I do 80 a year.

QRD – How many hours a week do you work on the label & how many would you like to?

Zdenko – I don’t know. It’s hard for me to separate work from unwork.

QRD – How have your motivations for having a label changed?

Zdenko – It didn’t change. I still want to do it.

QRD – What are some labels you admire or feel a kinship to?

Zdenko – Chess Records, Fat Possum,

QRD – What makes you label special & unique?

Zdenko – Actually, I’m not a label. I’m an independent announcer & a one man operation. In business an amateur, in art a naïve.

QRD – Do you enjoy music as much now as you used to & how has running a label effected how you listen to/hear music?

Zdenko – I enjoy music even more & understand it more.

QRD – What’s your demos policy?

Zdenko – I’ll do any artist which agrees with my way of work.

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

Zdenko – All possible ways.

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

Zdenko – I have a stall at concerts.

QRD – What’s been your biggest selling release & why do you think it was?

Zdenko – Satan Panonski. Because of their quality.

QRD – What release that you’ve done was the most important & special to you personally?

Zdenko – All releases are important to me.

QRD – What are some things that make you want to work with a band?

Zdenko – Music & sincerity.

QRD – What are some things that would make you stop working with a band?

Zdenko – Insincerity.

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

Zdenko – Every one has a story to tell.

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?

Zdenko – I’m not acting as a producer. Artists have freedom to do what they want.

QRD – How involved do you like to be in the artwork design for a release?

Zdenko – As much as is needed.

QRD – How long is it from when an artist delivers an album to you until release date & why?

Zdenko – It depends. I do my work in a few weeks.

QRD – If a band breaks up between the recording of a release & the release date, how does that effect what you do?

Zdenko – That doesn’t affect me.

QRD – What’s a record you’d like to put out that you’ll never be able to?

Zdenko – I can do whatever I want.

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

Zdenko – I’ll do ‘em anyway. I have some releases I never sold a copy.

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

Zdenko – For every two copies I sell, I give one to artist.

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

Zdenko – No written contracts.

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

Zdenko – I don’t do publishing.

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

Zdenko – It is not important to me.

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

Zdenko – My promotion is: one copy to Vladimir Horvat for a review in Terapija & one copy to KZSU Radio.

QRD – How do you maintain contact with your fanbase?

Zdenko – With my stall.

QRD – Do you have intern & street team programs & if so, how do they operate?

Zdenko – I’m afraid not.

QRD – How big of a staff do you have & how big of one do you need?

Zdenko – I’m a director & the only worker.

QRD – What do you do to build relationships with radio stations?

Zdenko – If they ask me nicely I’ll send them a copy & in return I want a playlist.

QRD – What do you do to build relationships with magazines & websites?

Zdenko – Same.

QRD – What do you do to build relationships with bloggers?

Zdenko – Same.

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

Zdenko – No.

QRD – What is the job of your distributors?

Zdenko – To do their job.

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

Zdenko – I do just a few copies for a start.

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

Zdenko – I do digital records & books.

QRD – Do you sell music that is not on your label?

Zdenko – Yes.

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

Zdenko – It helped me.

QRD – Ideally, would you release your own material?

Zdenko – I’m doing that. First book I did was mine.

QRD – What do you do to try to build a sense of community within your roster?

Zdenko – A smile & respect.

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

Zdenko – Artists are free to do what they want. Me too.

QRD – How often do you look at your “return on investment” & adjust your business model?

Zdenko – I never do that.

QRD – Do you worry about search engine optimization & website traffic?

Zdenko – No.

QRD – What have you done to cut costs over the years?

Zdenko – I spend less on myself.

QRD – Do you think the album format is dead?

Zdenko – No.

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

Zdenko – They never left so they can’t come back.

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

Zdenko – For me, yes.

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

Zdenko – 100 discs is not ultra-limited for me.

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

Zdenko – That’s what I do.

QRD – How much content do you feel should be available free to fans?

Zdenko – Free MP3 is ok by me as an artist. All my releases are free through “soulseek”. User name is: franticz

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

Zdenko – I like pirates. I’m one myself.

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

Zdenko – I wish other labels all the best.

QRD – What changes in things would cause you to stop your label?

Zdenko – If I die.

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

Zdenko – Do it.

QRD – Where do you think money is currently most available to labels/musicians & where in the future?

Zdenko – Money is not important.

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

Zdenko – They do work which artists don’t want to do.

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?

Zdenko – “Normal” people can find anything if they’re looking for.

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

Zdenko – In 20 years I’ll be dead & I will not care.