With more and more bands going the DIY route and foregoing labels, Suburban Home Records is branching out and expanding their business model. No longer just a traditional label that signs bands, makes records and sells them, Suburban has just launched a Label Services wing. It's a way to apply the experience and contacts the label's staff and owners have amassed in a a decade and half to the new realities of the music business.
"Basically it's a way to supplement what we're doing with Suburban Home," explains our own Andy Thomas, who's also a part of Suburban. "We'd like to focus more on being a label, but it's tough to sell records when people can download them for free. We're using our music-industry know-how to take this as a separate business and take the pressure off us to make a huge profit as a record label."
The label services are exactly that -- the same services a label would offer, available to bands and other labels on a contract basis. They offer everything from print and web design to help with distribution, SoundScan tracking, bio writing, vinyl pressing and more. In many ways it's an inversion of the traditional label philosophy where labels seek out new bands and basically employ them. Now bands don't have to wait to become "discovered" -- when they're ready to make a push for fame and fortune, they can hire the label.
"We looked it like that, like it was a label that you could pay for," Thomas says. "A lot of bands don't know the next step to take after you make a record. We've been doing it for a while. We have the know how to make a record look presentable [and get it out there]."
Prices are set on a sliding scale depending on how much help a band needs, from something as simple and quick and getting a logo designed, to something approximating the level of services that would come with a full-on traditional record deal. Bands should rest assured that Suburban isn't laboring under any delusions as to who their clients are.
"We realize we're working with musicians. We realize a band's budget is going to be much less than if were working with a big company," he says. "We're trying to make it as painless as possible."
Time will tell if this new approach will work, but at least Suburban is reaching out to the future instead of waiting to be squashed by it like so many other labels.
"We just put out the e-mail a few weeks ago, and we already have a quite a few customers," Thomas says. "It's a demand no one's really tackled yet, so we're hoping to get it."