Owner Follow-Up Interview
with Brian John Mitchell of Silber Records
Name: Brian John Mitchell
Label: Silber Records
City: Sanford, NC
Artists Roster: Remora, Small Life Form, Electric Bird Noise, Jamie Barnes, Aarktica, Rllrbll, & a couple dozen others on & off over the years
Websites: www.silbermedia.com, twitter.com/silberspy, facebook.com/silbermedia
Original Label Owner Interview with QRD
QRD – Any major changes to the label or your general outlook on running a label since last time?
Brian – A couple years ago I did a one month rush to put out everything I had scheduled & quit Silber for a few months. It let me realize the things with the label that are rewarding & that I actually want to do & the things that were really burning me out & that I really do want to have the label. So now I’m coming at it from a space where it’s a hobby that turns a small amount of profit instead of a business making less money each year. Just recognizing it as a blessing to get to work with music at all.
QRD – How do you feel labels are more & less useful to artists now than they were five years ago?
Brian – Less useful because it gets easier & easier for people to make a half decent looking & sounding product & to make it available to purchase the few places that matter. More useful because the proliferation of that ease has created a need for curators, editors, & tastemakers.
QRD – There are a lot less record stores than their used to be. How has that effected your model for releasing music?
Brian – Years ago I made attempts at reaching out to record stores & by & large they didn’t reach back. Most of my sales through physical distribution channels are through Amazon instead of record stores these days. So not really any effect at all.
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?
Brian – The year Spotify launched in the US I saw my download earnings drop by around 30% or so which is a pretty big hit & it got worse in the time since then. But I would say the amount of pirate sites in general does seem to be down & it is awesome for the consumer. Recently I’ve embraced it a bit more encouraging folks to listen to releases on Spotify & making Spotify playlists & it’s nearly doubled them as an income source since I started the push. So I’m hopeful right now. I get half a penny or so per play, so if I can get 1000 people to listen through one of our five songs in five minutes EP just once, it makes $25 & if I could get them to listen through the whole series it would make $750. It’s not working as of yet to be at that level, but I feel like there is some reason to hope for the future. https://play.spotify.com/user/silberspy/playlist/7ge7yufxSf6IR9Tpu7YIgh
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?
Brian – Pretty much stopped doing physical releases & physical promotions & stopped touring as much, so my overhead has gotten a lot lower. The only new income source has been pushing Spotify. Tried some other things like pushing for film placements & such, but never had luck with it.
QRD – What social networks are you active on & what ones aren't worth the time & energy to you?
Brian – Mainly Facebook & Twitter. I don’t really know how to use them properly though. I’m also on more or less all the rest, but use them even less.
QRD – With the rise of social networks & trusted download shops, has your own website become less important than it was a few years ago?
Brian – That’s an interesting question. In a way it has made the website less useful because people get more info from the social networks than from the main site. But at the same time the social media sites haven’t really done anything to help bands make money (at least as far as I know) & you really do need to have a place that you can control where people can pay for your product. It’s looking like Bandcamp may be the solution right now for the average band or young label.
QRD – Do you think fan funding (e.g. Kickstarter) is the future, a fad, or an awful thing for the music industry?
Brian – I love Kickstarter, but I’m not sure it’s even a fad as far as bands are concerned. A lot of smaller tier bands that I know that have had successful campaigns have gotten funded from family members. I don’t know. It seems like it works best for bands who normally sell 10,000 units to sell 1,000 units & make the same money, but that seems like a losing scenario in the long run.
QRD – What's something you leave up to bands to do rather than handling as a label?
Brian – At this point usually I’m just getting a finished product from the band & writing up a press release & running a promotional campaign for them. But sometimes I master the audio or help with the art & give tips on how to run a tour or their social media pages or whatever. It’s almost like I’m a big brother more than a label.
QRD – Do you see albums, EPs, or singles more relevant than a few years ago or pretty much in the same place?
Brian – I think with people generally listening to playlists on shuffle that albums are getting less listened to, but to me no less important.
QRD – Do you have separate release dates for different formats (CD, vinyl, digital download, streaming)?
Brian – Not intentionally, but it seems to happen. I like to have things available everywhere at once so people can get things in whatever their preferred format is.
QRD – Anything else?
Brian – I’m hopeful for the future.
Other QRD interviews with Brian John Mitchell:
Atavist by Brian John Mitchell
blood by Brian John Mitchell
exercise by Brian John Mitchell
kill bjm by Brian John Mitchell
Lost Kisses by Brian John Mitchell
mobil zombie by Brian John Mitchell
morning by Brian John Mitchell
new human by Brian John Mitchell
Shimmer by Brian John Mitchell
Suborrhea by Brian John Mitchell
Three Pieces by Brian John Mitchell
typed by Brian John Mitchell
Worms by Brian John Mitchell & Kimberlee Traub
xo by Brian John Mitchell & Melissa Spence Gardner
zombie free by Brian John Mitchell
zombie kisses by Brian John Mitchell