Label Spotlight: Elephant Stone Records

posted February 1, 2005

by Corinne

Elephant Stone RecordsPlease introduce yourself.

Ben Vendetta.

When and why did you start your label?

I started Elephant Stone in the fall of 2002 when I was living in Los Angeles. I was inspired by cool genre-specific labels like Creation, Factory, and early Sub Pop. Overly eclectic indie labels that try to be everything to everyone don't seem to have an identity.

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

Elephant Stone is VERY genre-specific. This description on the contact page from my website sums up my aesthetic really well:

"Elephant Stone is a label and a state of mind where The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, '60s Freakbeat, Echo and the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs, Spacemen 3, Jesus and Mary Chain, Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Dandy Warhols, BRMC, The Verve, and Creation Records are always relevant. Embrace the drugfuzz®."

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

My first release was "Fast Light With Radio Signal:" by The Volta Sound. That release was initially financed by money from my savings account. Future expenses have been financed by a combination of maxing out credit cards, help from family members, and cashing out my retirement account. That said, I have broken even or made a profit on everything I've released thus far, but in addition to just putting out a record you have to consider costs of mailing out promos, advertising, and various other things.

What is your most recent release?

Daydream Nation "Bella Vendetta". Later this spring I'll be putting out releases by Reverb and Smashing Orange.

How do you feel about sharing music on the Internet?

No problem with that. Commercial radio and most college radio is crap and the Internet is a great way for people to discover new music.

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

Labels aren't for everyone. If you're rich and don't mind losing money at first it's easy to run a hobby label, but if you're like most of us you have to be really creative with your finances and you can't stress out over credit card bills and having to eat hot dogs for dinner now and then when funds are low! Running a label isn't about listening to music and getting stoned and going "woah". Accounting and planning can take up more time than you think.

What has been your most successful release?

Both Daydream Nation releases and Delta.

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

Best way is to be on the same wavelength with the label owner and to not be pushy. I HATE it when I get random emails or demos from bands that do no research. If you care that little about your career that you'll solicit a label that has nothing in common with you, you don't deserve to succeed. And do not send MP3s. Labels will delete them instantly.

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

Well, genre is the first thing I am concerned about, but after that I try to get a sense of the band's attitude. I don't like dealing with hobby bands where everyone's got yuppie 9-5 jobs and the band isn't willing to do what it takes to make it to the next level. I haven't had a real vacation since I started the label, I do things like bartending and DJing and freelance writing for extra income and put my heart and soul into the label. I meet very few artists who have that same drive. Before I started the label I used to buy a lot of CDs and records but now I put everything into the label and have zero savings, but on the plus side I'm more fulfilled than I ever have been in my life.

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?

My contracts with artists are really simple. I think that's the case with most indies. It's only when the large labels get greedy that the legalities get difficult.