the futile search.

Rich M, my friend from high school who had gone on to become a music journalist, eventually working for Oculus magazine and then working for the seminal internet music company SonicNet, went north to Vermont to work for Safe House Records.  Safe House was a pretty decent label, and part of Rich’s goal was to expand their operation, and perhaps begin distributing other labels.

By this point I was desperate.  I wanted a more reliable distribution partner so badly that I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I simply wasn’t getting any results.  None of the distributors I was courting seemed interested in Dromedary.  I even went as far as asking Surefire, point blank, if they’d do it – basically calling Ron on our friendship.  To his credit, Ron cited the new label he was starting, which was to be called Spirit Of Orr Records, and essentially said he wouldn’t be in any position to devote the kind of energy to Dromedary that it deserved, since he’d be so busy building his own label.

That was a perfect answer, in hindsight.

I also asked Patrick at Carrot Top if he’d be interested – he was also starting a distribution company – but he wasn’t in a position to do it, either.  We were very friendly, but our music was just not up his alley, as much as I think he tried to like it.

We had also begun relationships with Parasol and Darla, and I pushed in that direction as well, but got no bites.

So when Rich went to Safe House, I immediately started bugging him to do something with Dromedary.  I’m sure I overstepped my bounds, but I felt that Rich had an interest in the Mommyheads, and he was also involved with Dromedary from the very beginning, and so if anyone would be interested in pursuing a distribution relationship, he would.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t.  Or maybe he was, but he couldn’t.  I don’t know.  But after several days of phone conversations that seemed like there could be promising opportunities, things cooled off.

I started to broaden my search, looking at companies like Koch and RED, trying to generate interest there.  I had a tape of rough mixes of Jenifer Convertible songs that were phenomenal, and a rehearsal tape of Footstone songs that were going to be great, and I owed it to those bands to try my very best to improve my distribution.  I simply could not go on any longer, selling ten records at a time, with our money tied up for months on end.

But ultimately, even broadening my search yielded nothing.

Dromedary just wasn’t at a point where distributors cared.  They’d take my records, on consignment, and the rest was up to me.

Meanwhile, the rest of the label had grown to the point where it was too big to fit the crummy sales we were doing.  We had bands that were reasonably well-known in indie rock, wanting us to put out their records.  When we released something, we got great press exposure without even having the benefit of a publicist.  Our friends – and our bands’ friends – were well known and respected.  We were planning a dynamite singles club, and a very cool festival on the beach.  We weren’t Matador, but we were moderately well-known.

Something was going to have to tip the scale.  There was going to have to be some change about the way we did things, about the type of effort that we could put in.  We owed it to the bands, and we owed it to the label to try.

I said it nonchalantly enough, the first time it was brought up.  Sandy and I were eating dinner, talking about the plans for the label.

“We’re getting to the point where it needs full-time attention,” I said.

Sandy didn’t say anything.  But she didn’t disagree.  So I continued.

“Pretty soon we’re going to have to either hire someone, or I’m going to have to do it full-time.  It’s too big to run the way we ran it when we were in Lodi.”

“I know,” she said.

She knew.  It wasn’t just me.

In order to increase our distribution, we had to sell more records.  In order to sell more records, we needed better distribution.  Those two things would butt at each other until the end of time.  There needed to be some other thing that happened, some thing that could exert force on the distribution/sales equation, in hopes of pushing things in the right direction.

I figured that thing would be exposure.  We needed to be doing more work with radio, heavier work with press.  We needed to be interacting directly with retailers, getting posters and merchandise out there, getting more feature articles for our bands.  We had to do promotion ahead of local shows, interviews on the radio, in-store appearances.  None of that shit could be done by me – I was working full-time.

Or if I was going to do it, there needed to be some form of income.

~ by Al on November 1, 2009.

2 Responses to “the futile search.”

  1. i don’t recall that…but i may have been high…

  2. Maybe we both were, I don’t know.

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