‘Will Phuq Interviewed on Running an Independent Label’
Unknown dissertation research, 2010
What are some of the more difficult aspects of running an independent label?
Until a couple of years ago I ran Bad Sekta pretty much on my own (albeit with some much appreciated assistance from some of our crew), bringing Tom on board later to help spread the workload. The main difficulties involved with this approach have been our (very) limited funds and not having enough time to reply to everything / meet all deadlines / generally keep track of stuff. It can also be a bit of a nightmare sometimes keeping both in touch with each other and our artists!
What would you say are your strengths compared to a major label?
I’d like to think that our size and basic ‘DIY’ ethos enables us to be more flexible than a ‘major’ label, pushing music and video that we actually love rather than we think will maximise ‘market-share’. I hold quite strong views on certain aspects of operating the label (e.g. regarding the diversity, presentation and fair pricing of the stuff that we release) and the lack of a ‘corporate structure’ within it means that we can choose to take any risks that we like, ensuring that both the label and our roster have total creative freedom.
What would you say are your weaknesses compared to a major label?
The aforementioned lack of man-hours and funds can result in a need to keep initial runs of releases as cost-effective (yet desirable) as possible, as well as to keep most of the promotion, design and mastering in-house. With only two of us running the label it involves a lot of hard work and dedication!
Do you have any problems getting your product placed in the right places such as record stores, reviews in magazines, etc?
This hasn’t really been much of an issue so far, as we mainly sell our stuff via the site and stall, although we’re currently looking at various distribution options (both physical and digital) to enable us to expand our reach / exposure for the next phase of releases. We do get some pretty consistent (& generally encouraging) feedback from listeners, zines, blogs and radio shows, also infrequent articles and interviews in print and online. We’ve never really we put enough effort into gaining press attention though.
What do you generate most of your revenue from? (CD sales, Downloads, Merchandise, etc.)
CD sales (but only because we’ve released so few physical products during the last few years). Generally, I would say that CD sales have been going down the pan for several years now, likely as people have increasingly turned to listening to music via their computers and MP3 players.
Do you believe that the digitalization has created a more levelled competition between the Majors and the Indies?
Definitely – anyone who cares to can now get their music out there (quality be damned!), potentially to massive audiences. Clever independent labels of all kinds are able to promote and sell their output cheaply and effectively via the web and small labels that follow the digital-only model are able to enjoy little or no manufacturing costs, often putting what money they do have into promotion and marketing.
Do you believe the market for independent music on its way up, or down?
I think that music and the market for it mutates rapidly but in fascinating directions; where there’s interesting music there’s always a surprisingly passionate audience somewhere…