How To Run an Independent Label
(Into the Ground)
Carl, Vice-President in Charge of Volcanoes, Ed Furniture Entertainment
We Do Think It’s Funny To Waste Time And Money
Ed Furniture Entertainment is an independent record label based in the small retirement community of Venice, FL. Over the past 1.5 years, we have invested approximately $24,000 on promoting and supporting our vast roster of two. Sir Millard Mulch (composer) and Jared Whitham (performance artist) are two of the most non-potential money-makers we could have thought of. Seriously… doing their kind of stupid Andy Kaufman-inspired performance art (by the way, no one in Venice even knows who Andy Kaufman was, and neither did we until a few months ago…”You mean someone already does this and was successful? Oh…he died? Shit.”) is no way to make a living on a small, man-made island full of old people. This originally led to a great deal of depression, but we keep shelling out more and more money for them to release ridiculous albums and buy props in hopes that more than 5 people will come to a show. In fact, our company slogan has become “We DO Think It’s Funny To Waste Time And Money!”, a take-off on the popular Food Lion slogan.
Seriously, How Can We Spend That Much Money In 1.5 Years?
We had to form the business (the legal crap), record and mix and edit the music, press thousands of CDs and video tapes, print T-shirts, order business cards and stickers, mail things everywhere, go to New York a couple times (a.k.a. touring the East Coast extensively, a phrase coined by the legendary Homeland), and it definitely adds up before you know it. That’s really not a lot of money in this business. I’m sure that 99% of the bands on major labels would love to trade places with us, financially. For example: an underground band on a major label can spend, lets say, $90,000 to do an album… and they have to pay it all back before they ever make their shitty 12% royalty. We spent $1600 on our last release. We don’t owe anyone anything. Every dollar goes directly into our pocket, and then right back out at the Taco Bell drive-thru.
Our Loyal Fanbase of Five People
Our artists seem to develop fans in really weird and unexpected places. For example: A radio station in Bucharest, Romania has, on occasion, dedicated a radio program to our catalog. Out of the 700+ promotional kits we have mailed out, we’ve gotten FOUR responses. The first (and most mysterious) piece of mail we received (back in late 1997) was from Ruta Sepetys, Steve Vai’s manager. Apparently, she took an entire year’s worth of artist submissions home with her on vacation and went through them, separating them into two piles. A good pile and a trash pile. The second SMM demo tape, 7 Pot-Boiling Delusions , WAS the good pile. This gave us a great incentive to continue and get a little more serious. She has since then been a great source of legal, business, and movie-viewing advice. Millard has also made the acquaintance of Devin Townsend (his favorite vocalist), who listed Millard’s demo as one of his top 4 albums in a magazine interview. Our first official release (Sir Millard Mulch – 50 Intellectually Stimulating Themes From a Cheap Amusement Park for Robots & Aliens, Vol. 1 ) landed the artist a gig at the 1999 NY Music & Internet Expo, his first live show outside of Sarasota county. The promoter, Steve Zuckerman, was so confused by the CD that he thought it deserved national attention right away. At the merch booth, we made $30 from CD sales and Jared Whitham got to trade glasses with Flavor Flav of Public Enemy.
Not long after that, we sent a copy to Ed Kramer, the promoter of Dragon*Con, America’s Largest Sci-Fi Convention. He thought it was so weird that he gave them yet another large gig, this time in Atlanta on a bill with GWAR in front of 4,000 people, where they were joined on stage by Claudia Christian, the star of Babylon 5 , as a guest vocalist. Our merch sales at that show resulted in about $100 to spend on wild feasts at the buffet downstairs. Yummy! Our elaborate 11′ tall Borg Cheese Cube Merchandise Booth did nothing but scare people away and confuse potential customers.
How Do We Get the Money to Pour into This if Our Sales are Shit?
Day jobs. We view this label as an obsessive hobby / prank.
Will We Ever Make All That Money Back?
We seriously doubt it!
Are We Insane? What is the Point of All This?
The point is: Running an independent record label (into the ground) is much more fun than smoking pot and watching TV — and that’s the only other thing there is to do in Venice, Florida. This is really all we know how to do.