Label Spotlight: Omega Point Records

posted June 1, 2005

by Corinne

Omega Point RecordsPlease introduce yourself.

My name is Emil. I'm 28 years old, live in Chicago, and, on top of being in a touring rock band and working a very stressful day job, run an independent record label called Omega Point.

When and why did you start your label?

Waaaay back around 1995, I was working at a hip-hop/house/r&b label as a studio engineer. The label wasn't interested in releasing my own music, which they deemed too weird, so I decided to start my own.

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

Mostly "electro-punk"... which in my personal lexicon means music that mixes a punk attitude with electronic instruments.

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

"Solid Mirrors", a cassette of my solo stuff - mostly just tape loops of some Tibetan monk playing a flute or children laughing, with a lot of white noise synthesizers. It cost $200 to make 100 copies with the packaging and all... I financed it by selling this kid my skateboard and bass guitar.

What is your most recent release?

"One Brain" by the Zom Zoms. If anchovies suddenly evolved enough brainpower to sing and play vintage keyboards, the Zom Zoms would be their Sex Pistols.

How do you feel about sharing music on the Internet?

Does it matter what I feel?

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

You will probably lose every cent you put in - if you can't accept that outcome, don't even start. Don't sign any band that doesn't tour (unless you're in a genre where touring *really* doesn't matter). I don't care how good their album is... if the musicians aren't out there working hard to get their music into other people's ears, then there's not a whole lot you as a label owner can do to help them.

What has been your most successful release?

Ming & Ping's "MingPing.com" is doing well, selling 4-6 copies online per week. Supra Argo's self-titled still sells a copy or two per month online even though the band broke up ages ago. My own band, the Mystechs, reliably sells 300-500 copies per release through touring.

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

Most label owners find out about bands the same way everybody else does - we catch them live, we read a review in a 'zine, we have a friend recommend them to us. What you, as a musician, need to do to get noticed by labels is simply to do all the things signed bands do, to the best of your ability: release albums, tour, send stuff to 'zines for review, get your shit on Internet radio, collect email addresses at your shows, network on MySpace, whatever.

The more you do those things, the more likely a label is to notice you, and when they do they'll be impressed by your work ethic. I'd trade 10 lazy, talented bands for 1 band that might not be as good, musically, but works its ass off to promote itself.

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

1. Good songs.
2. An unique sound that no other band has.
3. A striking visual image.
4. A strong, proven work ethic.

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?

I was one class short from becoming a paralegal, and used to work at a law firm as a secretary, so I'm more familiar with contract and intellectual property law than your average music enthusiast who starts a label. Still, when the going gets rough, I call up an entertainment lawyer for help. If you're going to spend several thousand dollars promoting a band, then it's not a bad idea to give an attorney $200 to look over the contract for you.

Anything else you would like to add?

Not much - except that there's no money in running a weird, idiosyncratic record label, so you'd better have a lot of love for the music you're releasing or you'll quit in frustration. As my friend Dan is fond of saying, "If it weren't for the music, the music business would really suck."