with Bernd Jungwirth of Withering Trees
Name: Bernd Jungwirth
Label: Withering Trees
City: Füerth, Germany
Artists: H Stewart, Mystified, Getzel, Luis Antero, Harnes Kretzer, piper_ben, & then some
QRD – When & why did you start your label?
Bernd – Started it in 2011, because no label would release my own music back then.
QRD – Where did you get the money to finance your first few releases?
Bernd – Didn’t take me any, as I used a free blog site.
QRD – How many releases have you put out?
Bernd – As of January 5th, there’s 22 of them.
QRD – How many releases would you like to do a year?
Bernd – I’d love to have 15 to 20 in 2013.
QRD – What are the fun &/or rewarding parts about running a label?
Bernd – Getting to know great international artists & getting to listen to some amazing music.
QRD – How have your motivations for having a label changed?
Bernd – There’s been ups & downs, to be honest, but it’s always been rewarding so far.
QRD – What do you feel is the biggest waste of your time running the label?
Bernd – Placing links into blog posts, I can’t seem to ever learn how to do so.
QRD – What are some labels you admire or feel a kinship to?
Bernd – BFW Recordings, Myrdal, Resting Bell, Bypass.
QRD – What other work experiences prepared you to have a label?
Bernd – None. :)
QRD – What makes you label special & unique?
Bernd – Our artists try to deliver messages to the listeners, they don’t just produce music. We’re not in the middle of the road, we’re a little outside watching people walk by & we’re surveying them.
QRD – Do you enjoy music as much now as you used to & how has running a label effected how you listen to/hear music?
Bernd – I am now able to hear even the quietest tones & melodies. Listening to demo releases trained me in focusing on the music & the message behind the music.
QRD – What’s your demos policy?
Bernd – We accept any artist filed under drone, ambient, experimental, spoken word, maybe even neoclassical if it fits.
QRD – How do you find out about new artists for your label?
Bernd – Asking artists if they had some music to spare. :)
QRD – How do most fans find out about your label?
Bernd – Probably via Facebook or Relaxed Machinery.
QRD – What’s been your biggest selling release & why do you think it was?
Bernd – Mystified’s Ferris Spirits with about 500 downloads so far. It’s probably caused by the imagination of Mystified strolling through an old rotting theme park, collecting things & playing around with them.
QRD – What release that you’ve done was the most important & special to you personally?
Bernd – Fukushima Symphony, me & my friend Getzel made this in contribution to the nuclear disaster back in 2011.
QRD – What is the thing all releases on your label have in common?
Bernd – There’s a certain message behind every piece of music artists at Withering Trees produce. Their music might as well be showing off people’s dreams to be somebody or somewhere else.
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?
Bernd – I’m not doing any mastering. I listen to demos (which mostly are complete albums in most cases) & then I tell them what I think &, if I like the music, when it could be released.
QRD – How involved do you like to be in the artwork design for a release?
Bernd – Most of the time, artists come up with their own artwork ideas, but at times I suggest some pictures & graphics to be considered for the artwork.
QRD – How long is it from when an artist delivers an album to you until release date & why?
Bernd – Depends on how many artists are on queue.
QRD – What do you wish bands on your label would do?
Bernd – Promoting their stuff for themselves. :)
QRD – What’s a record you’d like to put out that you’ll never be able to?
Bernd – I’d love to have a Nils Frahm release once. That’s most probably never gonna happen, though.
QRD – Do you have written contracts with your bands or handshake deals?
Bernd – It’s more of an agreement, as we only release Creative Commons music for free download.
QRD – How do you maintain contact with your fanbase?
Bernd – Facebook, Relaxed Machinery, maybe even Soundcloud; but I’m not very active there regarding the netlabel.
QRD – How big of a staff do you have & how big of one do you need?
Bernd – It’s the owner & two guys taking care of the homepage. That’s it. But those two guys aren’t really staff because they keep maintaining the site in their freetime, which technically makes me the only employee.
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with radio stations?
Bernd – Send them stuff via Facebook.
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with bloggers?
Bernd – Same as above, including internet radio shows.
QRD – How has running a label effected your own artistic career?
Bernd – Funnily enough, I haven’t had many appearances on Withering Trees myself. I do release my own stuff via Bandcamp.
QRD – Ideally, would you release your own material?
Bernd – Basically, if there were any material suitable enough, yes.
QRD – What do you do to try to build a sense of community within your roster?
Bernd – Talking to them once in a while & following their releases on other labels.
QRD – Do you think the album format is dead?
Bernd – I think most people’s attention span has shortened. That’s why few people listen to drone music. However, drone music doesn’t work for EPs. So there will be some albums somehow.
QRD – Do you think the return of vinyl & cassettes is a fad?
Bernd – Not at all. Sound quality of a vinyl release is so much better than an MP3 copy. It just can’t be replaced.
QRD – Is it important to have physical releases over digital ones or does it not matter?
Bernd – We’re currently not planning any physical releases. Let’s see what the future will bring.
QRD – What do you think of ultra-limited runs of releases (less than 100 discs)?
Bernd – Bad idea. Good music should be available for everybody.
QRD – How much content do you feel should be available free to fans?
Bernd – As for the idea of sharing, everything should be or at least free-to-pay when it’s about non-physical stuff. I am proud to say I do pay money for physical releases of quality music, though.
QRD – What changes in things would cause you to stop your label?
Bernd – Not having the time to work on it for a longer time.
QRD – What would you suggest to someone starting a label today?
Bernd – Be sure to release a mixture of well-known & less-known artists. Most well-known artists have some side projects they are happy to release on a new label.
QRD – Why do you think labels are still important to artists?
Bernd – Releasing music all by yourself can take its toll on the artist, psychically as well as being time-consuming.
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?
Bernd – Bandcamp & clongclongmoo, maybe even Jamendo. Those are some great sites I can recommend.
QRD – In 20 years what do you think/hope your label will be known/remembered for?
Bernd – Having released or still releasing some great artists & nice music.
QRD – Anything else?
Bernd – Thanks for caring about us, everyone! We appreciate that!!