Indie Labels-The Best Career Path for Artists
As the transformation of the music market continues, the good news is now everyone has access to promote and monetize their music over the internet. The bad news is that because everyone has access to promote and monetize their music over the internet, it has become harder to get noticed and make a living. Artists need to pay their dues and develop their music to the point where they are ready for a broader push. Once reaching that stage, an independent music label can take that artist’s unique selling proposition and use their connections and experience to bring them to a wider market and covert their music passions to a livelihood.
Rich Bengloff is the President of the American Association of Independent Music ("A2IM"), a non-profit organization representing a broad coalition of independent music labels. Rich also serves as a board member of the SoundExchange. Rich has spent much of his career in the music and entertainment industry, during the past 20 years having worked at both music labels and music distributors at both independent (RED, Combat/Relativity/In Effect) and major music companies (Sony Music and Warner Music) as well as WNYC Radio, serving as a senior level operations and financial executive. Rich has been published in Billboard, FMQB, NY Times, Hypebot, Huffington Post, Daily Tech, and is often called on to speak at events around the world including CMJ, Digital Music Forum East, Midem, SXSW and the inaugural International Creative Industries Summit in Shanghai, China in 2009. Rich has an MBA from Columbia University and is an adjunct professor of Communications and Media Management at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business and Hunter College of the City of New York
JOSH ROSENFELD is co-founder of Seattle indie label Barsuk Records, which has supported and released music by some of the most acclaimed and successful artists in indie rock, including Ra Ra Riot, Menomena, David Bazan, Rocky Votolato, Nada Surf, Mates of State, The Long Winters, Jesse Sykes, They Might Be Giants, and Death Cab for Cutie (whose first five albums, including the classic Transatlanticism, remain in the Barsuk catalog), as well as a batch of extraordinary recent signings including Say Hi, The Wooden Birds, Phantogram, Pearly Gate Music, and Blunt Mechanic. The label is entirely independently owned by Josh and two partners who also work there full-time.
Bassist and producer Garry West co-founded Compass Records with Grammy-winning banjoist Alison Brown in 1993. Their desire was to create an artist-friendly home for independent musicians, providing valuable services and an environment for creativity, coupled with sound business practices and an understanding of the musician's perspective. In the intervening 18 years Compass Records Group has grown to include 4 label imprints (Compass Records, Green Linnet, Mulligan Records and Xenophile) and has been acknowledged by Billboard Magazine as "one of the best independent labels of the past decade." Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the Compass roster includes a diverse mix of genres and artists including Colin Hay, The Waifs, Altan, Peter Rowan and Dala, and distributes throughout the world. Garry is the Nashville legislative liaison for A2IM, has served as a member of the Nashville Music Council and has lectured at the Harvard Business School, the Darden School of Business, the University of Colorado and the University of Limerick. He lives in Nashville with his wife Alison and their two children Hannah (9) and Brendan (4).
Dr. PORTIA SABIN runs the legendary punk rock record label Kill Rock Stars. She is a board member of A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) and a Vice-Chair of WIN (World Independent Network).
Chuck Wilson founded Babygrande Records in 2001, a time when being an indie artist or an indie label was far less fashionable than it is today. Babygrande has since released over 200 titles from world renowned artists such as GZA of Wu-Tang, M.O.P., Jedi Mind Tricks, Sa-Ra and many more.
Prior to Babygrande, Chuck served as Director of A&R for Priority Records/EMI and Director of Business Affairs for Black Entertainment Television.
Chuck is also a partner in Triumph Media Holdings which launched iHipHop as the first hip-hop social network on the internet. Via iHipHop's Distribution division, Chuck has served as Executive Producer of many successful releases by artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Wu-Tang, Curren$y/Jet Life, Smoke DZA and Marz Lovejoy.
Chuck holds a B.A., J.D. and M.B.A. from The University of Virginia. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two sons and loves the game of golf.