not the first time, not the last time.

Rejection sucks, no matter who you are, and no matter what level the rejection.

The phone rang one night, and it was one of the guys from Ditch Croaker.  I honestly don’t remember which one.  I also don’t remember any of the details of the phone conversation, other than this one: whoever was on the phone said “We’ve been talking about it a lot, and we decided that we really don’t want to put out a 7″ on Dromedary.”

It was sort of like a punch in the gut, in that we’d done a few ads that said “coming soon: new stuff from Ditch Croaker,” and I’d mentioned it in a CMJ dialogue or two.

I was also committed to putting out the Footstone 7″, which was supposed to piggyback on the awesomeness of a Ditch Croaker 7″.  Ditch Croaker had already built up quite a bit of popularity, and I was looking forward to having another band with some notoriety cuppa joe or Footstone just didn’t have.

Moreover, I had a really pleasant phone conversation with Skippy from March Records at about the same time.  March was certainly a bigger label than Dromedary, but not that much bigger – they had us by a few years, and I sincerely felt that the difference in age was the only thing that put distance between our labels.

In that conversation, Skippy said “I’ll give you one piece of advice, and it’ll be the best piece of advice you’ll ever get.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Don’t put out a record if the band is not willing to tour,” he said.  “A touring band will automatically sell three times as many records as a band that doesn’t tour.”

“Really?” I asked.


The guys in Footstone all worked dayjobs.  Even though they said they wanted to tour, the logistics of it seemed impossible to me.  Same with cuppa joe – two of the members had real jobs, and the third was a high school student who couldn’t even get into a club, much less play in one.  Melting Hopefuls might be able to tour, but any tour would be brief and reasonably local – Ray had an excellent job as a graphic artist, and I didn’t see him putting that on hold so that he could live in a van for a month.

Ditch Croaker toured.  If I remember, they toured to promote their seven-inch.  They toured to promote a three-dollar record.  This was the one record I was really looking forward to, if only to see the impact that a tour could have on record sales.

I protested.  I did my best to convince whoever I was on the phone with that there were no strings attached, no reason why the band couldn’t put out their own records in addition to ours, no reason why they couldn’t have records on multiple labels.

I definitely got the impression that they thought a record on Dromedary would hurt them.  It stung a little.  I was sort of embarrassed.  I realized it wouldn’t be the last time a band told me “no” – it wasn’t even the first time a band had told me “no.”  But I had definitely been under the impression that we were doing this record.  I had told people about it.  I had advertised it.  I had played it for people.

I wasn’t angry; I realized the band had to do what they had to do, and that it wouldn’t make any sense for them to resent us before the record even came out.  We had nothing in writing – at that stage I was big on handshake deals, and we didn’t really even have one of those.

But what I was left with, after the cuppa joe and Melting Hopefuls seven-inches, was nothing.  First, Ditch Croaker was bailing on our record, and then the Footstone tape was too weak to put out.  

I didn’t have any money after cuppa joe and Melting Hopefuls anyway, but I wanted to at least have plans.  

I had gotten a demo from a band called Emory Swank; I don’t remember who I got it from but I liked it.

My main problem was that I liked the Ditch Croaker and Melting Hopefuls seven-inches so much that nothing else I received seemed to measure up.  I recall reading interviews with label owners who said that they’d never signed a band based on a demo tape – early on in Dromedary’s development that surprised me.  With a handful of releases under our belts or on the way, it was starting to make sense.  The stuff, at this point, was just not that good.

After getting the boot from Ditch Croaker, I buried myself in cuppa joe and Melting Hopefuls.  I was really, really disappointed, and I sorta pledged to myself that I was going to make them sorry that they said no.  In my mind, although Dromedary was small it was much bigger than their own label, and it made absolutely no sense not to team up with an indie label to get another record out there.  I was not asking for any exclusive deal, or asking them to sign any type of contract, I just wanted to get their record out.  While I wasn’t angry with them, I thought they were making a poor decision.

When I spoke to Ray, he agreed.  “I don’t get it,” he said.  “Why wouldn’t you want to put out a record on an indie label, no matter how small it is?  It’s not like you’re holding them hostage or anything.  It’s just another way for them to promote their band.”

“I can understand their wanting to keep their own label going – they identify with Tsunami and Simple Machines, and I think they want to go the same route.”

“Still, I’m going to talk to them.”

I don’t think he ever did.  But that’s okay.

~ by Al on February 22, 2009.

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