Name: Coming Home Records
Age: 5 and a half years
Location: Woodland Hills, CA
Bands: Radio FreQ
The Transfatal Express
Last week, Record Pressing’s marketing coordinator, Monique Dolan, was able to have a chat with Coming Home Records owner Erik Andrews. Let’s take a looksey at what they talked about:
Monique Dolan: During a tough economic time, what is keeping your record label thriving?
Erik Andrews: I don’t think the term thriving fits the situation, maybe more like surviving. What I had to do was evolve with what was going on with the music industry and to this day I’m still adjusting to these changes. One of the most unexpected changes and something I never had in my game plan was to take on distribution for artists that weren’t directly part of my label. This has financially helped me continue on with my operation.
MD: Why did you decide to start a record label?
EA: It was a process early on from discovering Slayer in the late 80s and my friend’s sister pulling out Fugazi’s first EP to place it on the turntable. Once we were introduced to this we all started doing research and discovering punk music. Eventually that’s what led me into the early 90s hardcore scene. This is when I first started getting into collecting vinyl albums and it exposed me to the DIY ethics. So initially during this period it was the first time I started to think about doing a record label. Unfortunately being so young and lacking funds things didn’t get going until 2005. I had been kicking the idea around for such a long time and I finally had an opportunity to work with the person who’s sister introduced me to all this amazing music. I think the delay of doing the label was beneficial to me since I had seen so many friends deal with the industry on the Indie level up to hassling with majors.
MD: What does vinyl mean to you?
EA: Vinyl to me is when you first open up a new album and you pull the vinyl out with the sleeve. The first thing I notice is the weight and you can tell immediately if it was done at a legit pressing plant before even looking at the album itself. From there it’s how the album visually looks, from a great color, split color, marble or to just a nice solid black 180 gram. Once you’re done dorking out to that, it’s the experience of actually listening to the music and vinyl doesn’t allow for the listener to disengage with that moment.
MD: The sales in vinyl have increased, while CDs sales are decreasing, how is this affecting the labels?
EA: Well a lot of labels rely on CD sales, as the profit margin is better in comparison to vinyl and digital sales. So I think there is more of a hesitation in the industry to release CDs and the focus has switched to marketing vinyl. I don’t see any reason anymore to doing CDs unless you know you can unload 5k plus. Personally I’m looking to stay with creative packaging, limited vinyl pressings and digital distribution.
MD: What has kept you in the music industry?
EA: I think the thing that keeps me in the music industry is having interaction with musicians, artists and people that relate to me. All of my closest friends are connected in some way to the industry, so if I wasn’t a part of that I’m not sure we’d stay as connected.
MD: Do you have any tips for newcomers into the music industry?
EA: Whether you’re an artist or label the major thing is to stay connected to the fan. These are the people that let you know what you’re doing right or wrong. Also, remember that all people in the music industry are just like you and me, they all feed their pets the same way.
MD: Do you have a favorite band or release that you’ve done?
EA: By far my favorite release and the one I’m most proud of is Mellowdrone’s Angry Bear. Besides the music being amazing, and the pressing turning out as I envisioned, it was the people that worked hard to make the album happen. Besides the band itself we had the very talented artist Caspar Newbolt (www.versionindustries.com) who tied the artwork into the music. I think everyone involved with this release really put in everything they had effort-wise to make it successful project.
MD: With music piracy on the rise, how do you expect to keep people spending money on tangible music and on the artists/bands themselves? What do you think is the incentive for fans to buy?
EA: Bottom line is you need to create something unique and very creative that people will be interested in purchasing. A lot of times artists/labels just focus in on the music, which essentially is important, but don’t overlook artwork. No one is looking to buy a jewel case with a two-panel insert. You still need to understand giving away music is now a part of the formula, but there are still people willing to buy the right item. So produce limited pressings, include unconventional items with these albums, and include free download material and innovative artwork. I think these simple features will keep fans interested and as a fan myself these are things I look for in new releases.
MD: What do you see for the future of record labels?
EA: I think as long as labels evolve with what the fans want there are still a lot of ways to continue to grow in this market. I think you can sense some desperation from large labels that waited to long to change their format. So now you’re seeing those companies relying on back catalog to sustain their business.
“Major labels didn’t start showing up really until they smelled money, and that’s all they’re ever going to be attracted to is money-that’s the business they’re in- making money.”
– Ian MacKaye