Owner Follow-Up Interview
with Joshua Heinrich of Autumnal Release
Name: Joshua Heinrich
Label: Autumnal Release
City: Buffalo, NY
Artists Roster: fornever, Black Wedding, premature burial, Orangabelle 5, Colder Than Yesterday, Slow Drip Lizard, She Cries Alone
Original Label Owner Interview with QRD
QRD – Any major changes to the label or your general outlook on running a label since last time?
Joshua – Nothing too major. Wider digital distribution that led to some re-mastered re-issues & a slightly bigger internet presence, but it’s pretty much been business as usual with the same focus on the artistic side & getting the music out there.
QRD – How do you feel labels are more & less useful to artists now than they were five years ago?
Joshua – I guess I still feel about the same. They aren’t particularly necessary, especially if it’s the difference between self-releasing or releasing on a small label or your own label, but they give things a bit more clout... or, in my case, allow me to tie together multiple projects/bands I’m involved in under one blanket. Although, handling a lot of stuff on my own with releases, I do actually find it a nice change of pace when, as an artist, I have something released on another label & can just concentrate on recording the music & doing the artwork & then turn over the reins to somebody else. It’s maybe less fun if there’s some sort of artistic compromise involved, as is sometimes the case between bands & labels... but if the label is supportive of the artist’s artistic vision for the project, not having to do everything yourself is definitely a plus.
QRD – There are a lot less record stores than there used to be. How has that effected your model for releasing music?
Joshua – It hasn’t really effected my model as I’ve always sort of embraced online distribution anyway, going back to the late 90s. As a consumer, I definitely miss going to my local record store & grabbing the new releases or digging through used bins or buying maxi-singles for the b-sides. As far as my own releases go though, I’m pretty much doing things like I always have.
QRD – Spotify has become an undeniable force that has reduced download sales while (allegedly) fighting piracy. In the end what is good or bad about it for you as a label & do you embrace it?
Joshua – I guess it’s a double-edged sword. As an artist, I do like that pretty much anyone can listen to my music for free or for a small subscription fee in a manner that feels more legitimate than... say... giving away an album for free on Bandcamp like some artists are doing these days... & it’s in a manner that does provide some compensation, even if it’s cents as opposed to the dollars that might be made from an album sale. I also like that the DRM limitations sort of make more sense with streaming services since I’ve never really been a fan of DRM imposed on purchased music (or a lot of other media, for that matter).
On the negative side, your music is out there, can be listened to for pennies, & there’s no real incentive to buy an album when you can listen to it as much as you want, so it definitely effects music sales. Even as a consumer, when I’ve subscribed to music services, I’ve experienced first hand its effect on sales from my own consumer impulses (& I’m one of those people that still prefers to buy CDs). I’ve found myself thinking things like, “Okay, I can listen to all these albums on this service, but this album isn’t up there... so I guess I’ll buy that one for $10... but no point in buying these others when I can listen to them for free as much as I want on my phone.” &, I mean, thoughts like those are fully justified when the artist is being compensated for plays, everything is legit, & especially if you’re paying a subscription fee to listen to that music... even if the artist isn’t making anything close to what they’d make if you bought the album you might have purchased if you couldn’t stream it.
There’s also the problem of over saturation & the fact that everything is just there & in your face & available with instant gratification. I definitely don’t like the change in music consumerism where things have sort of gone from “I was checking out new music online & found this band I really like. Where can I buy their album?” to “Tell me why listening to your music for free is worth my time?”
QRD – Most labels are making a bit less money than they were a few years ago. What have you done to lower expenses or find new sources of revenue?
Joshua – I guess I’m in it for the art. I’ve probably actually spent more on website fees & distribution & everything in the last few years than I have in the past.
QRD – What social networks are you active on & what ones aren’t worth the time & energy to you?
Joshua – I don’t really have any dedicated label accounts, but I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Ello, & MySpace... as well as music-oriented sites like Reverbnation & Soundcloud... mainly under fornever (with other bands of mine having accounts on some of them). I use the fornever accounts for news about the label & my other bands, as well... & include the fornever Twitter in various website feeds. So the fornever accounts, at least on Twitter/Facebook/etc. are sort of blanket accounts for everything (including my writing & other endeavors as well). I guess my Twitter account is the most active at the moment. A few hardcore fans prefer Facebook. Sites like Reverbnation & Soundcloud that are more music-oriented are worthwhile for connecting to fans & other artists & sharing music. The other sites are pretty marginal... except for MySpace, which I rarely update anymore but where I still have thousands of fans/followers from a decade ago. Here are some of the fornever links for anyone interested...
QRD – With the rise of social networks & trusted download shops, has your own website become less important than it was a few years ago?
Joshua – I guess I still update the sites semi-regularly, but a lot of current news comes out on social media first with updating the official sites being more of an afterthought. In fact, the news on the sites tends to be more of a summary of news posted on social media. It’s still nice to have an official hub of sorts for everything to revolve around, I guess.
QRD – Do you think fan funding (e.g. Kickstarter) is the future, a fad, or an awful thing for the music industry?
Joshua – I think it’s a bit of a fad... & I’m not necessarily a fan of it myself. I guess it has its place, & it’s something that can be done well or handled poorly. I mean, it’s good if you’re sort of a returning band with a big fanbase & clear goals for a bigger scale project... like Luscious Jackson’s comeback for example. I think a lot of indie bands with smaller fanbases probably fall short of their financial goals (or annoy family & friends by hitting them up for money for their next project).
QRD – What’s something you leave up to bands to do rather than handling as a label?
Joshua – I guess, since I’m a member of the bands on my label, the lines are pretty much blurred. The choice between handling something as the band or label depends on what I’m doing... & whether the other band members are involved or if things are on my shoulders. I really do a lot of things through the bands/projects themselves, though.
QRD – Do you see albums, EPs, or singles more relevant than a few years ago or pretty much in the same place?
Joshua – I’m pretty much in the same place. I still like the album format, personally, but also like that newer distribution models have opened up the ability to easily release one-off singles & EPs without the hassle & cost that used to accompany them. I released a fornever album in January & am working on an instrumental album for later this year, but, in the meantime, I wrote 3 new songs that work as an EP & I like the idea of being able to basically finish them, do some artwork, & put it out right away as an EP... or release a one-off single for a track that didn’t really fit the vibe of the album it was recorded during (as was the case with the fornever single “watching the walls” last year).
QRD – Do you have separate release dates for different formats (CD, vinyl, digital download, streaming)?
Joshua – I usually try to get everything out on the same day with hard release dates. It doesn’t always necessarily work out that way, with some digital stores taking longer than others to get stuff up if things come down to the wire... but, generally, the same date.
Other QRD interviews with Joshua Heinrich:
Guitarist interview with Joshua Heinrich of fornever (June 2012)