Owner Follow-Up Interview
with Stephen H Judge of Second Motion Entertainment
Name: Stephen H Judge
Label: Second Motion Entertainment, Inc
Websites: www.secondmotionrecords.com, www.schoolkidsrecords.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?
Stephen – No changes to my outlook other than the music business is looking up. Vinyl sales are great & I am very excited to see it coming back so strong. I am not doing the label as much right now because I am focused mostly on my retail store, Schoolkids Records which I bought in 2012. I worked there ten years before I left to go to Yep Roc Records/Redeye Distribution for seven years. We have been in business 41 years & I just opened a second store in Durham, NC last week.
QRD – How do you feel labels are more & less useful to artists now than they were five years ago?
Stephen – There is always a need for labels, it just depends on the artists’ needs (financial, administrative, distribution, etc). Distribution is a key piece, if you don’t have distribution you are not really in the game. & that’s not just digital, I mean physical distribution to mom & pop stores & selling vinyl.
QRD – There are a lot less record stores than their used to be. How has that effected your model for releasing music?
Stephen – That is changing, record stores are the centerpiece of the industry & there are more & more opening every day. My store is one of the few that survived the bad times of 2000-2005. Things have changed, digital sales & streaming income factors in, but selling physical music at indie record stores is still the best place to build something that will last. I still rely on that digital check every single month to help me get through, but it’s not really my focus, it’s just another format & avenue to sell music.
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?
Stephen – I think it’s good, at least there is a revenue stream associated with it & from owning a successful record store I see sales every day from people who discover music on Spotify. So the long term effects of it are hard to account for. I realize some people are upset at the low rates they get paid & it certainly should be challenged, but for me it’s nothing but positive -- the more avenues to music via revenue &/or helping people discovering music, the better.
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?
Stephen – Nothing really, I’ve been focused on my retail store, but if I had a more aggressive release schedule, the main areas I would cut would be on manufacturing, trying to keep it thin. Especially with vinyl because it’s much more expensive.
QRD – What social networks are you active on & what ones aren’t worth the time & energy to you?
Stephen – Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. They are critical.
QRD – With the rise of social networks & trusted download shops, has your own website become less important than it was a few years ago?
Stephen – Possibly, but I think it’s just used for different things. It’s more for information & helping people find you (your catalog, your location if you are a store, etc.). So more like a listing in the phonebook, where social media is the every day communication.
QRD – Do you think fan funding (e.g. Kickstarter) is the future, a fad, or an awful thing for the music industry?
Stephen – I think it’s great. It works well for a lot of people.
QRD – What’s something you leave up to bands to do rather than handling as a label?
Stephen – Touring expenses, recording expenses, & the creative aspect of their music.
QRD – Do you see albums, EPs, or singles more relevant than a few years ago or pretty much in the same place?
Stephen – Singles can be relevant on digital platforms or physically with 7” singles if you have a following that can sustain the costs of that. EPs I guess can have a place within this, but EPs are always a hard sell. They have never been huge sellers even in the times where music sales boomed.
QRD – Do you have separate release dates for different formats (CD, vinyl, digital download, streaming)?
Stephen – No, it’s critical to keep that the same.
QRD – Anything else?
Stephen – I don’t think so!