‘Uncommon Approach’ is a column written by Paul “Nasa” Loverro, owner of independent label Uncommon Records. With this frequent column, he gives readers an all access look at the ups and downs of running an independent label in this day and age. An in-depth column from the perspective of an Indie label owner. This time he reflects on an important question: ‘How do we become Stones Throw?’
‘Uncommon Approach’ is a column written by Paul “Nasa” Loverro, owner of independent label Uncommon Records. With this frequent column, he gives readers an all access look at the ups and downs of running an independent Hip Hop label in this day and age. An in-depth column from the perspective of an Indie label owner.
Recently, I got into a conversation on Twitter about how Uncommon Records can reach more people. Basically it consisted of, for us, how do we reach people beyond trying to sell MP3s?
While I’ve personally always been a big believer in the emerging Digital Retail model, I have to admit these days as a label you have to be multi-faceted. So what can we do?
I was given examples of promotions that labels like Stones Throw have done with vinyl records and other forms of more unique merchandise. But I’m quick to point out, labels like Stones Throw began during the “tangiable era”. They began when the model for a record label was to manufacture physical products and sell them. And while that is no longer the position you want to be in as a business, it did have advantages as far as where they and others have landed today.
Most examples given to me for people that market merch in creative an innovative ways can date their starts back to a long gone era of formal investment money and a thriving market of consumers, not to mention a much better overall economy in music and beyond.
I say this not to take anything away from Stones Throw and what they’ve done as a label. My point is, I want Uncommon Records to get ‘THERE‘, where they are. But how can I do that in 2010? Resources are obviously limited and so is the audience.
Lower Middle Class Labels
I find that Uncommon Records is part of a new lower middle class. A label that is innovative in its music, but doesn’t trace back to any sort of “golden indie era” or have any large form of investment. A few people suggested Kickstarter to me, so I checked it out. I felt very challenged by the site. I saw the success that MegaRan and K-Murdock (of Panacea) were having, but when I tried to form my own thoughts on what I could campaign for, I wasn’t sure what I’d want.
I mean, what do I want for Uncommon Records? Do I want the resources to press up CDs again? I guess. I mean, CDs are cheaper to manufacture than ever, so that’s not a big deal. Plus, if I press them, what I really want is to get them distributed more formally. But I can’t campaign for that, plus where are they being distributed to anyway? How about a DVD? Ok, but a DVD of what? And do people really need a DVD of us? Not yet.
After bringing this to a friend, I was asked “What is it that you REALLY want?” My answer was “to spread our exposure and to tour”. That’s the true next step for us. I suppose I could go on Kickstarter and get a tour sponsored, but I just don’t think that’s incredibly original. MegaRan’s and K-Murdock’s campain was based around a DVD they were making. It seemed they got so much funding that they had to do extra cool stuff like Flash Drives, mouse pads and all that.
I use Kickstarter to point out the “Lower Middle Class” that I mentioned. This is how labels and artists have to approach things, outside of the box and basically on our own. So I give props to those guys. But I don’t know if that’s for us.
To be Continued
As the Twitter convo continued, I expanded it and asked our followers, “What kind of products would you buy from us besides more music?” I got a lot of interesting ideas. All of this was happening as I was formulating an aggressive Street Team plan called the ‘Orange Army’.
I’ll talk more about that in Part 2 of “How do we become Stones Throw?”
Read all columns by Paul “Nasa” Loverro HERE