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QRD #71 - Label Owner Follow-Up Interviews
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Label Owner Follow-Up Interview with Shaun Sandor of Blondena
March 2015
Shaun Sandor of Blondena Music

Name: Shaun Sandor
Label: Blondena Music
City: Houston, TX
Artists Roster: Promute, Bicameral Mind, Andrew Weathers, Small Life Form, Tesla Recoils, Bryce Eiman, 919 Noise...
Websites: blondenamusic.com, blondenamusic.bandcamp.com
Original Label Owner Interview with QRD

QRD – Any major changes to the label or your general outlook on running a label since last time?

Shaun – I have taken time off from the label in many ways, as I felt I did not have the time to fairly promote the music I was releasing for other people.  I still release, or will release, my own music on the label & pick up some other folks along the way in the future.  But for now it remains a personal effort.  I still appreciate the improvisational scene (acoustic or electronic) & avant-garde music & the label will remain in that genre.

QRD – How do you feel labels are more & less useful to artists now than they were five years ago?

Shaun – I feel labels are just as useful, at least the independents.  As long as there is a place in the digital world to keep releases coming, then there will be people who appreciate or follow what a label has to offer.  On the tangible side, vinyl has been steady & the market for CDs is down, but the labels releasing CDs seem to know their market & have no problems getting the music out there.

QRD – There are a lot less record stores than there used to be. How has that effected your model for releasing music?

Shaun – Well, it has made the tangible side of releasing less appealing.  Couple that with the rising cost of shipping, it makes it a little difficult to really want to manufacture anything anymore.  Bandcamp has helped tremendously & you don’t need a record store for that.  Most likely I would opt not to release a CD in the near future unless I already had a solid idea of where it would end up.

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?

Shaun – I embrace it, as I think it is just one way that people like to enjoy music or find new music.  I do get some revenue from it, but not much.  I don’t advertise it like I do the download site (Bandcamp).

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?

Shaun – Because I haven’t been releasing other people’s music & have stuck to just my own in the last 2 years, it is very easy & convenient for me to “release” music on the web only.  There are a few fans that I will make a particular tangible copy for, but other than that the web is the best way to release something for a very small cost (or no cost).  A little bit of advertising in the right groups has led to a lot of web traffic for me.

QRD – What social networks are you active on & what ones aren’t worth the time & energy to you?

Shaun – I am on Facebook & that is about it.  Everything else through email.  There are a lot of groups on FB that are interested in niche music & they respond well, typically.  Not sure what social media is actually worth it to me, though.  Oh, & I think I have a Twitter account too.  I don’t remember ever really using it.

QRD – With the rise of social networks & trusted download shops, has your own website become less important than it was a few years ago?

Shaun – Yes, my website is a basic place that ends up being an encyclopedic version of the projects I have been involved in & stuff the label has released.  No blogging or active pages, but something like a one-sheet that I update periodically.

QRD – Do you think fan funding (e.g. Kickstarter) is the future, a fad, or an awful thing for the music industry?

Shaun – I don’t have much of a problem with the crowd-funding sites. Sometimes I find it a little bit strange for struggling artists to ask for money from other struggling artists & sometimes I am okay with it.  There are a lot of people that really would love to support their favorite artists or friends or projects they think are cool & this gives those folks a direct line to support this, plus they get something out of it (CD, shirt, art, etc.).  I don’t think it is awful for the music industry, as it is a bit of a creative way for some people to share their creativity.  I think it will be around for a while.

QRD – What’s something you leave up to bands to do rather than handling as a label?

Shaun – Putting consignment CDs in certain CD stores or shops.  I figure if they have a particular place in mind, then a band member should handle that matter.  I figure they chose the place for particular reasons or relationships, so they can handle the consignment for it.

QRD – Do you see albums, EPs, or singles more relevant than a few years ago or pretty much in the same place?

Shaun – Since vinyl does pretty well in the niche market, I see albums being important.  With regards to singles & EPs, downloads are probably more relevant.  I see this as an attention span & overall ease of sharing a link issue.

QRD – Do you have separate release dates for different formats (CD, vinyl, digital download, streaming)?

Shaun – I try my best to have any digital & physical releases at the same time.  Everybody wants the music delivered the way they are most comfortable with, so it makes sense to me to have it all available at the same time.

QRD – Anything else?

Shaun – Blondena Music will be back to supporting some local & non-local artists in the near future, just not a positive date set yet.

Other QRD interviews with Shaun Sandor:
Interview with Shaun Sandor of Promute (October 2013)
Musician dad interview with Shaun Sandor of Promute & Bicameral Mind (June 2009)