a novel idea.


Proof the the "Allnigher" 7" actually came out on Dromedary.

Proof the the "Allnigher" 7" actually came out on Dromedary.

Melting Hopefuls continued to forge ahead with their record deal and their new label.


I was disappointed that they no longer wanted us to put out the CD we had agreed upon; the whole purpose of putting out the “Allnighter” seven-inch, to us, was so that we’d have the ability to do a CD downstream, after the band signed a deal with a larger label.  I knew they would eventually find a deal, and between “Gondola,” “Allnighter,” and “Coming,” I felt like we had released three of the best songs the band had recorded up to that point.

Ray had begun working on concepts for artwork, and started laying out ideas for which songs would be included on the CD.  He had a pretty large library of music that the band had recorded;between Magnet For Stains and Heal Back Harder, there were a ton of great songs from which to choose.

“The only song that I know he insists on using is ‘Allnighter.'” Ray told me.

I figured that.  If they were using songs that had already been recorded, “Allnighter” was their best work.

It was interesting speaking to Ray during the process, watching the band prepare for a debut record.  Their new label was planning to hire a radio promotions company to “work” the record to college radio (something I had considered but ultimately could not justify financially for seven-inches), and planned to have a full-time PR person.  He was also looking at other bands to sign as well, and seemed to be moving very quickly.

Ray had made several tapes of what he envisioned the record to be.  They mostly contained the same songs, but he was playing with the sequence, trying to find the perfect song order.  He sent me a few different tapes, and wanted my impressions.  He also did an “Air Bag” and made a number of different mixes of “Allnighter” and sent me those.  To me, they all sounded the same, so I tried to guess which one Ray liked by imagining where in the order he would have put the one he liked the best.

During all this, Sandy, Rich and I began talking about how we might leverage the band’s new record deal to get more copies of “Allnighter” in stores.  Despite the SPIN listing, despite all the other press we had gotten, and despite news of the band’s record deal, we had not sold a lot of copies of the record.  

In fact, it was rapidly becoming clear that the initial pressing of 500 copies of cuppa joe’s busy work was going to sell out.  The “Allnighter” 7″, which had an initial pressing of 1,000 copies, wasn’t even close.  We thought for sure that “Allnighter” would be our breakthrough record, and the press and radio support we were getting would support that opinion – but sales were simply not following us.  I couldn’t figure out what we were doing wrong.

That’s why when Ray called me with some news, I was excited.

“Rick wants to promote our seven-inch as an advance to the CD,” he said.  “He wants to re-press it and service it to radio and press, and have his promo people work it.  He thinks it would be good for us to have a record out with wider recognition, before the full-length comes out.  So he wants to press “Allnighter” again and use it as a promotional tool for the band.”

“He wants to do this with our record?” I asked.

“Yeah.  I think that would be great publicity for Dromedary.  He wants to send out something like 500 more records, have his promo people work on it, send it out to press here and in England.”

“Wow,” I said.  “That would be really cool.  We could sell a ton of records if we had people working it full-time.”  I envisioned a radio promo company making calls to all those radio stations, mentioning the SPIN listing and all the other press, calling in their favors and generally doing the radio promo thing.  Plus they’d be working the music press, trying to get more reviews and interviews.  I could learn a lot by watching how they did it, and I could also piggyback on the work by working my distributors harder – with the ammo of knowing that the new label would be working so hard at promoting the seven-inch.

“That’s what I was thinking,” he said.  “It would be great for Dromedary.”

Ray then told me that Rick wanted to speak with me on the phone, so we arranged for a convenient time for us both to talk.  He complimented me on the work we’d done with the band, and went out of his way to tell me that he loved small labels like Dromedary.

“I have distribution, and options for promotion that you don’t have,” he said.  “But you also have something I don’t have – credibility as an indie label.  My label hasn’t put out a record yet.  Nobody knows who we are.  So I had an idea.”

“Ray told me a little bit about it,” I said.

“If you allowed me to put a sticker with my logo on your record, in an unobtrusive place, I’d be willing to pay for all the pressing, postage, and promotional costs – and then I’d send it out to my database of radio stations and press.  It would really help the band in advance of their CD.  It would also help me, because I’d be able to piggyback on your name a little bit.  And hopefully, it would also help you, because you’d be getting some exposure for your label that you ordinarily wouldn’t have.”

He was being very flattering, and very friendly, but he was also very right.  It seemed a win-win-win.  I agreed to it immediately.

“Okay, then, I’ll be in touch when it gets to be time to do this,” he told me.

“Listen,” I said.  “I know you’re swamped, and as an indie label you can’t necessarily afford all the things that the bigger labels can.  I’m a tiny label, too, much smaller than yours, even.  I just wanted to let you know that I do everything on a handshake.  You won’t need to draw up a contract or anything; we can just do this.”

“Oh, no, I’d feel much more comfortable if we had a contract,” he said.  “No offense, but it’s just the way I do things.”

Man, these record industry types really do things differently than me, I thought.

~ by Al on March 24, 2009.

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