Label Spotlight: American Laundromat Records

posted February 7, 2007

by Corinne

American Laundromat RecordsPlease introduce yourself.

I'm Joe Spadaro, founder of American Laundromat Records.

When and why did you start your label?

I started the label in April of 2004. It's something I always wanted to do. I'm a huge indie music fan and wanted to help bands I like get heard.

What kind(s) of music does your label put out?

We release primarily indie rock. I'm a huge fan of the Boston music scene in the 80s. The Pixies, Blake Babies, Lemonheads, Throwing Muses, Mission of Burma, etc. That's the kind of music I love and gravitate to.

What was your first release? How did you finance it?

After I started the label I had several bands all looking to me to release their CD. I realized I would have to put out something but couldn't afford more than one release so I put out a 16-song compilation called "Transistor" featuring all the bands on the label at the time. I paid for the whole thing myself from my 2004 tax return. I never broke even on that record but it was a great learning experience and I'm really proud of it.

What is your most recent release?

I just released a 7" vinyl split single featuring John P. Strohm (Blake Babies, Antenna), and Dylan in the Movies. It's an excellent release -- both are brand new original tracks from two very talented songwriters. This is the second 7" split I released, and I expect to do more down the road. I love vinyl and I try and do something unique with each pressing. They're limited to 500 hand-numbered copies worldwide so I hope they'll be prized collectors items some day.

How do you feel about sharing music on the Internet?

I think it's an important way for a band or indie label to get heard. MySpace has been great for us, and a lot of people have featured our releases on podcasts and the like. Hopefully people will like our music and want to buy records or tracks down the road.

Any words of wisdom for those interested in running their own label?

Don't do it!!! Just kidding. It has to be a labor of love and something you can devote a lot of time and energy to. Do everything you can to get exposure. MySpace, music forums, press releases, etc. If you're a small indie label like American Laundromat, you need to think out-of-the-box in terms of how to market each release. Distribution is key, but until you have something that distributors want and believe they can sell, set up accounts with CDBaby, Amazon.com, etc. It's important you give your customers as many ways as possible to order your releases. I also highly recommend college radio promotion. AAM (Advanced Alternative Media) has done an outstanding job with our releases. They have great deals for indie labels and can work with most budgets.

What has been your most successful release?

"High School Reunion - a tribute to those great 80s films" has been our most successful release. It was a fun concept record with great artists like Frank Black, Kristin Hersh, John P. Strohm, The Dresden Dolls, Matthew Sweet, etc covering tunes from some of those hilarious 80's teen films like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, etc. That release did very well and opened a lot of doors for us in terms of distribution and upcoming projects. We also received a lot of media attention. The project was mentioned on VH1, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and many more worldwide.

What's the best way and the worst way to get a label's attention?

I guess I would have to say a band that has a strong set list of tunes and tours regularly has much more appeal than a band that considers itself popular because they have several thousand friends on MySpace. A band that tours has much more going for it in my opinion. The worst way is to add us to your mailing list and bombard us with emails every other week.

Regardless of genre, what do you look for in the artists and bands you sign?

In truth, we're not interested in signing bands right now. This may change but it would have to be the right band at the right time. Our focus is the compilations, tribute projects, benefit CDs, and vinyl releases. This gives us the most reward creatively.

There are a lot of legalities involved in running a label (signing bands, releasing records, everyday work, etc.). How does your label deal with these things?

We just take it as it comes. These things are pretty simple when you boil them down. The most important thing is to have fun and not take the label too seriously. As long as you're honest and pay who needs to be paid, everything else is just day-to-day business.

What upcoming releases can we expect from American Laundromat?

Well, this year is especially exciting for American Laundromat. We're releasing a benefit CD on October 3rd called Cinnamon Girl - Women Artists Cover Neil Young. All proceeds from this release will go to Casting For Recovery. Tanya Donelly, Kristin Hersh, Jill Sobule, The Watson Twins, Britta Philips (Luna), and the Caulfield Sisters are just some of the great female artists covering Neil for our CD. We're also be releasing a tribute to the Pixies called Dig For Fire on Nov 3rd. They Might Be Giants, Mogwai, OK Go, Dinosaur Jr., The Rosebuds, are already signed-on for this one. Also in the fall, we're releasing an iTunes exclusive tribute to Kim Deal which will feature indie-rockers covering Kim's work in the Pixies, Amps, and Breeders. Lastly, you should see at least two more vinyl split singles from us. We're committed to a 7" vinyl club of sorts and hope indie-music fans like these limited edition splits.