Label Spotlight: Sub Pop

posted August 1, 2007

by Corinne

Sub PopPlease introduce yourself.

My name is Chris Jacobs and I am the general manager here.

When and why was the label started?

Sub Pop was officially started in 1988 by Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman. I have no idea why exactly, but my best guess involves some combination of: a genuine love for music they viewed as otherwise not paid the attention it deserved; no other actual job prospects; better/easier access to drugs.

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

Both kinds.

What was the first release? How did was it financed?

Soundgarden's Screaming Life EP. At great personal cost.

What is the most recent release?

July 24, 2007: Hands Across the Void by Tiny Vipers.

How do you feel about sharing music on the Internet?

Pretty good. We also feel very, very positively about selling music - on the internet or elsewhere.

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

There are a lot better ways to waste great sums of money.

What has been your most successful release?

They're all artistically successful to us, each in their own wonderful, unique way. Except that Legend 7" - that was nothing more than a gimmick. Our best selling record is Nirvana's Bleach album.

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

Assuming you mean as a band/artist, best: be really good, play lots of shows, don't be an asshole; worst: demonstrating your "persistence" through a seemingly endless series of emails and/or phone calls.

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

If possible, we prefer to really enjoy the music of the artists and bands we work with. Also, we try to avoid assholes, if we can manage it.

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 employ lawyers to deal with legalities.

Last year, Sub Pop became the first record label to go Green. What measures did you take and what prompted you to do it?

Last year we began to offset the energy we use in our office through the purchase of "Green Tags," which effectively subsidizes the production of renewable energy. I'm told that we were the first record label to do this particular thing, but I would imagine, or I would hope, that there are other record labels doing more. So far, that is the only measure we've taken and it was prompted mutually by a guy who works here and an artist we work with (Kelley Stoltz). The details on all of this are available here.

What upcoming releases can we expect from Sub Pop?

The Brunettes, Kinski, Flight of the Conchords, The Go! Team, Iron & Wine, Band of Horses, The Helio Sequence, Kelley Stoltz, Grand Archives, Death Vessel, Wolf Parade, Constantines, A Frames, and "more."