What indie labels should my band pursue?
March 16, 2009 6:20 AM   Subscribe

What indie labels should my band pursue?

My band just finished an EP, and we're trying to figure out promotion / licensing. There are a million and ten labels out there, and it's hard to know just which ones to send copies of the record to. I won't link directly to the band in the question, because I don't want this to seem like a post to promote the band, but if you want a link, you can mefi mail me (or do minimal sleuthing).

Our sound is pop-rock, very slightly proggy, and fun. Some people have compared our sound to The Faint, Muse, The Killers, etc. If you have any suggestions for small indie labels that I should court, please share.
posted by thedaniel to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
well, The Faint started out on Saddle Creek, but now have their own label, blank.wav (and might be looking for new bands), so perhaps one of those?

The other 2 that come to mind are Epitaph (more punk oriented), and Sub Pop.

Of course, there's always the DIY route, but perhaps you've already ruled that out.
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:49 AM on March 16, 2009

Response by poster: Re: DIY: We're self-released on Amazon and iTunes currently - what's breaking my back is promotion. I think it would help to be attached to an entity that has bands that people follow and thus some kind of profile, and connections in booking.
posted by thedaniel at 6:55 AM on March 16, 2009

bands that people follow

definitely Sub Pop, then. (fixed link)
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:59 AM on March 16, 2009

oh, and Steve Albini would kick ass for not recommending Touch & Go
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:02 AM on March 16, 2009

Best answer: Have you thought of hiring a promo team like Fanatic, Pirate, Team Clermont, Terrorbird, etc.?
I used to work in college radio and a lot of bands used these, not all of them signed. They distribute your album to radio stations with a little sticker on them that describes your music. They then follow your album/contact the college radio music department staff about whether your record is getting played. Sometimes these groups were annoying to the people on my end at the radio station because they liked to call a lot, but they were effective in some situations, plus they know what radio stations to send your album out to. Don't know about booking, but they do tend to book showcases/day shows during SXSW with bands from their roster that do well.
posted by fructose at 7:02 AM on March 16, 2009

Best answer: Sub Pop, Saddle Creek and Touch and Go are not small indie labels, they are very large indie labels, and the chances of them deciding to work with an unknown band who sends them an unsolicited CD are slim to none. That said, you don't lose much by sending it to them. Most labels describe their demo policy on their web site somewhere. Jagjaguwar and Merge records are two more labels that say they accept demos, although again there aren't small labels. Merge is actually kind enough to send you a postcard saying that they received your CD.

Anyway, as fructose said, what you may want is to hire a PR company. Check out this page on KEXP's web site. It tells you how to send your CD to radio stations and the bottom has info about a bunch of PR agencies. These groups are for promotion, not booking. I know Fanatic does lincensing, I'm not sure about the rest. They don't take on just anyone, so be prepared to send stuff to a bunch of them and follow up and maybe not hear back. If you do work with one be prepared to spend many thousands of dollars, depending on what you hire them to do, with no guaranteed result. Consider that you may not be at the right point in your career for this to be a worthwhile move, and that you may be better off doing it yourself.

If you have more questions feel free to send me an email.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:28 AM on March 16, 2009

I think Touch & Go is, well... touch and go these days.
posted by scody at 8:34 AM on March 16, 2009

Seconding JagJaguwar. Also - I'm curious about your band. Will be e-mailing you shortly.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:35 AM on March 16, 2009

Advice from the King of the Surf Guitar.
posted by pianomover at 9:53 AM on March 16, 2009

Jade Tree
posted by Black_Umbrella at 10:06 AM on March 16, 2009

sorry forgot the link. Jade Tree
posted by Black_Umbrella at 10:06 AM on March 16, 2009

Don't pursue...if you're good enough, tour and sell on your own...you'll be noticed. Seriously.
posted by littleredwagon at 10:22 AM on March 16, 2009

Another promotion company, the AAM Sunday Service weekly envelope was the one I anticipated most back in the college radio days. They've got a list of labels they like working with, and they also take unsigned material (they put out Arcade Fire's first EP, Yeah Yeah Yeah's first EP, etc.).
posted by carsonb at 10:26 AM on March 16, 2009

My sister works for RED. MeFi mail me some info on your band and that link to your website, and I'll ask her where you should send your demo, if you like.
posted by explosion at 1:53 PM on March 16, 2009

Sub Pop and Saddle Creek are pretty much the Princeton and Stanford of indie labels. I bet they turn down so many bands every week....

On the other hand, you have nothing to lose from trying. I'd just throw some out to some actual small indie labels and see what happens.
posted by Precision at 5:32 PM on March 16, 2009

Response by poster: I'd just throw some out to some actual small indie labels and see what happens.

Which is what I'd love to do, which is why I asked for some suggestions of small indie labels, because I don't know which ones to approach :[
posted by thedaniel at 6:49 PM on March 16, 2009

You need to make friends with successful like-minded bands in your area. This will be beneficial for myriad reasons, one of which is that you'll find out about the small local labels that they work with.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:32 PM on March 16, 2009

I asked for some suggestions of small indie labels

The list at the Sunday Service link above is extensive. Here are just the labels from it I recognize (and recommend):

Alternative Tentacles
Bar None
Drag City
Film Guerrero
Jade Tree
Kill Rock Stars
Le Grand Magistery
No Quarter
The Rebel Group
Saddle Creek
Southern Lord
Sub Pop
Temporary Residence Ltd
posted by carsonb at 10:05 PM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older Why does India consider the iPhone a "Dangerous...   |   Boston Vespa Rental Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.