Label Spotlight: Sympathy For The Record Industry

posted January 12, 2006

by Corinne

Sympathy For The Record IndustryPlease introduce yourself.

I'm a man of wealth and taste. I am the anti-mogul, the accidental C.E.O. and the believer in non-believers. My name is John, but different people know me as Rock-a-Day Johnny, Two-Bit Johnny, Shithead and Long Gone John.

When and why did you start your label?

I started Sympathy For The Record Industry in 1988. I started it to release a record by the Lazy Cowgirls that they were having difficulty getting out. I never actually had any great plans of starting a label, it sorta just happened.

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

Fractured folk, hybrid blues, gratuitous pop, punk rock and uneasy listening. Nothing resembling hardcore, funk, hip hop or rap.

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

The Lazy Cowgirls’ "Radio Cowgirl". I paid for it with money I saved from my paper route.

What is your most recent release?

"Alright, this time just the girls" volume 2. It will be out January 15th. It has 30 tracks by 30 female fronted bands. The cover was done by Camille Rose Garcia and I am very proud of this record.

How do you feel about sharing music on the Internet?

It doesn't bother me. I personally have no interest. I've never downloaded a song myself. I like people to hear the music I release. I guess I don't really care how they get it although I do need to make some money to keep Sympathy in operation.

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

It is very difficult to make a go of it, certainly a lot harder today than when I started. i would suggest to anyone wanting to start a label to become a gynecologist instead that would probably be much more rewarding.

What has been your most successful release?

Currently I would say the Detroit Cobras.

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

For me an interesting/fitting band name is really important, a reasonably attractive band (although sometimes ugly works) and most importantly to have a unique/intriguing musical style and not sound like a hundred other tired bands.

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?

That is my job. I work by myself. I do it everyday. I have done this for 17 years and it is second nature for me now. I get up and do what I gotta do. If I don't do it it doesn't get done.

Anything else you would like to add?

I would like to add a couple million dollars to my yearly income.