Label Owner Interview with Charles Rice Goff III of Taped Rugs
August 16, 2017
Name: Charles Rice Goff III
Label: Taped Rugs Productions
City: Kansas City, Kansas (previously... Oakland, California & Lawrence, Kansas)
QRD – When & why did you start your label?
Charles – Back around 1980 I created my first official album -- it was a cassette album, of course, & little did I know it would be the first of many many many cassettes, CDs, librettos, videos, etc. that I would be sharing with an ever-growing group of friends, collaborators, associates, fellow artists, & (let’s not forget) actual FANS.
QRD – Where did you get the money to finance your first few releases?
Charles – I was then & am still now a starving-type artist/not-for-profit sort of person. Most Taped Rugs products are created “on demand,” which minimizes wasted resources.
QRD – How many releases have you put out?
Charles – Considering all varieties of releases, including online only, that number is currently around 300. Just this year, as of this writing in August 2017, I’ve released four albums & intend to put out at least 4-6 more before January.
QRD – How many releases would you like to do a year?
Charles – I feel like I’ve accomplished my goals if I can get out an album every month. Because my work often appears on other labels, I include those projects in my one-per-month goals as well (meaning that not every one of my releases comes out on the Taped Rugs label). So far this year, Aural Films has released a fancy-pants 3 CD BIOGRAPHY of my work (dating back to 1981) & I’ve been invited to participate in two compilation albums from other labels as well, neither of which has yet been released.
QRD – How many hours a week do you work on the label & how many would you like to?
Charles – Since I actually participate as an artist in nearly every album released by Taped Rugs, “working on the label” includes producing my own music, which can consume a lot of time. “Working on the label” also, of course, involves promotion, creating album art, communicating with collaborators, etc. As for “hours per week,” this number varies depending on several factors, including my own inspirations, deadlines, personal health, etc. Some days, I can work nine hours or more per day on Taped Rugs projects; some days I need a total disconnect from the whole thing.
QRD – What are the fun &/or rewarding parts about running a label?
Charles – It’s all fun, all rewarding, & most importantly... it’s all necessary to maintaining my sanity. Creating & sharing art, particularly sonic art, is hard-wired into my being. I make no money doing what I do; in fact, I spend a lot of money doing what I do. “Community” is the reward for my hard work & this reward is far more valuable to me than money. This attitude allows Taped Rugs to focus all its energy on originality & creativity rather than on profit. It also allows a wide space for genre & non-genre to develop without restrictions.
QRD – What are some labels you admire or feel a kinship to?
Charles – Lonely Whistle Music, Haltapes, Sound Of Pig (now defunct), Harsh Reality (now defunct), EE Tapes, Insane Music.
QRD – What’s your demos policy?
Charles – There are no demos. Albums (no matter format they come in) are traded, offered as gifts, posted online, &/or (very rarely) sold.
QRD – What’s been your biggest selling release & why do you think it was?
Charles – Let me change this question to “most downloaded” release. As of today, that would be a 2012 online release by Disism (Goff/Kaswan) called “A Fantastic Array Of Oceans.” It’s not particularly lengthy; it’s all improvised percussion. As for why it’s the number one download -- I’m guessing because there were a couple of popular websites that promoted it (not because it’s the musically most interesting of Taped Rugs albums).
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?
Charles – I have engineered, edited, & produced maybe 95 percent of Taped Rugs’ releases.
QRD – How involved do you like to be in the artwork design for a release?
Charles – I love making graphic art, so I do create most of Taped Rugs cover art myself. However, many of my collaborators are very talented visual artists, so I also love it when they create art for Taped Rugs releases.
QRD – How do you maintain contact with your fanbase?
Charles – Much of my “fanbase” is made up of collaborators, with whom I regularly (or irregularly) email directly. Anyone who is interested in Taped Rugs usually can find the Taped Rugs website without much problem. I update the site quite often, since I am constantly mixing new elements into its cauldron of confections. Fans also are aware that just about every Taped Rugs album is posted on archive.org, & it appears that there are a number of people out there who check there regularly for new Taped Rugs works too, since Taped Rugs albums are consistently being downloaded there by somebody (somebodies...). I do not feel obligated to offer my work as a vehicle for others to advertise from, so I do not participate in Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Instagram, Tumbler, Snapchat, & I have removed much of my work from You Tube.
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with radio stations?
Charles – Taped Rugs productions cover the full spectrum of genres, but few, if any, could be considered “commercial products.” Radio stations & online broadcasters have been sharing Taped Rugs recordings with their listeners since 1980 & that’s generally because I’ve targeted specific DJs & mailed things directly to them. If I discover a broadcaster who has played one or more Taped Rugs recordings whom I have NOT reached out to previously, I try to make contact & offer him or her more recordings to share with his or her listeners. Again, my ultimate reward in musical production is “community,” & broadcasters are a very important part of “community.” I also have been a broadcaster myself on various radio stations & online music outlets (currently I host The Deprogramming Center on KOWS in Sonoma County, California). On occasion I play Taped Rugs materials for my own radio listeners.
QRD – How has running a label effected your own artistic career?
Charles – After having done this for over 35 years, a lot of people all over the world know who I am. In today’s internet universe, the number of recording artists who share their work with the world is incalculably large. I’d like to think that having a familiar name & reputation makes it less likely that I’ll be just another needle lost in the haystack, but that’s not really based on any scientific studies, just a feeling I have.…
QRD – Do you worry about search engine optimization & website traffic?
Charles – Not terribly much, but I do keep an eye out with “Taped Rugs” Google searches to find out who’s saying things about my work (or doing things to it/with it).
QRD – Do you think the return of vinyl & cassettes is a fad?
Charles – All formats are fads. MP3 players are fads. Online music is a fad. One day I predict that people will have chips implanted in their heads to experience music without even needing their ears to experience it.
QRD – Is it important to have physical releases over digital ones or does it not matter?
Charles – “Importance” is irrelevant I think. There will always be people who find a physical presentation more appealing to their overall sense of artistic appreciation. & there will always be people who resist the clutter that comes from building a library of records, CDs, tapes, etc.
QRD – What’s something you see other labels do that you think of as borderline unethical?
Charles – Abandoning artistic integrity for the sake of profit.
QRD – In 20 years what do you think/hope your label will be known/remembered for?
Taped Rugs is already 37 years old. A lot of people connect it to the 1980s cassette culture. People also seem to be impressed by the label’s never-ending & copious flow of one-of-a-kind productions.
QRD – Anything else?
Charles – For me, producing music/recordings is a sacred act. In the days before the 19th Century, it was rare for anyone to make a profit from creating music. There are still many societies on our planet where music exists completely outside of the capitalist universe, where it’s only function is to enhance religious rituals, festivals, & other gatherings of people in community. I’m of the belief that music made for profit often taints its essence, reducing one of the most precious gifts that humans have been blessed with to the size of a wrinkled dollar bill.