Eight Days a Week for Wednesday Records

Wednesday Records Readies Itself to Take On the Musical

by Brett Leigh Dicks

wednesday_rec.jpgA friend of mine once told me the best
way to make a small fortune in independent music is to start off
with a large one. But in a day and age when music is freely
reaching the ears of more people than ever before and downloading
decreases the need to purchase CDs, the emergence of a record label
is becoming a rare event. Web sites like iTunes.com offer an
overwhelming catalogue of recorded material that require only a
computer, a server, and a click of the mouse, allowing people’s
musical obsessions to be satisfied at home.

And it isn’t just distribution that has been revolutionized. The
MySpace.com phenomenon has seen the evolution of a service where
artists can take their wares directly to the people. In bypassing
the traditional approaches to marketing and promotion, fans can go
directly to the source. And, as a result, niche markets are
self-assembling. All this musical streamlining raises an obvious
question: Why would anyone dive headlong into starting an
independent label at this point in time?

For two Santa Barbarans, that’s a very easy question to answer
since, for them, it all comes down to the music. Tim Boris and
Jonathan Miller have recently thrown their financial resources,
tireless dedication, and endless enthusiasm behind Wednesday
Records, a Santa Barbara-based independent music label. But
Wednesday Records isn’t just going to be a local label with a
regional strategy. A third partner, Ben Sweet, is based in
Philadelphia, giving the label a crucial presence in music centers
on both coasts. Even so, with more artists currently soliciting
digital distribution and fans flocking to MySpace.com in droves,
one suspects starting a label is presently one of the more
precarious commercial undertakings around town.

“We were joking that this is probably the best way to lose money
in the year 2006,” offered Miller. “The old model of how to put out
and market a record is one that doesn’t really translate well to
where we are at today.” As a result, labels sink or swim based on
their approach to the new mode of music distribution and their
ability to sort through the mass of artists online and find truly
talented musicians.

little_heroes.jpgIn such a dynamic marketplace, record
labels have had to change their approach to releasing music, as
well. Downloading sites such as iTunes.com and Napster.com have
quickly become the largest distributors of recorded music, making
digital distribution a required consideration when releasing a
record. People used to have their favorite record store, but now
they routinely favor a specific download site. And with so many
options available, how do independent labels compete with the reach
and might of a major label?

“The first thing we did was sign a digital distribution
agreement with Iris, a clearing house for independent labels,”
explained Miller. The one-stop clearing house offers collective
bargaining, making it possible for all the independent labels to
achieve a better and fairer rate. With the groundwork done and the
foundations firmly laid, the partners can now turn their attention
to the day-to-day activities associated with running an independent
music label.

And each partner in Wednesday brings something unique to the
mix. For Sweet, it is his previous label experience. Miller, a
musician and member of the S.B.-based band Little Heroes, has a
wealth of experience from a musician’s perspective. And Boris
brings his sheer enthusiasm for music and attention to details.

“I’m definitely the details guy,” Boris smirked, fumbling
through the press package with which the band presented me to make
sure the first Little Heroes album was included. “This has been a
terrific learning experience for me. Working with the Little Heroes
has gotten me ready, so it will be interesting when I have to work
with a band I have no previous relationship with.” The decision to
base Wednesday Records in Santa Barbara was not taken lightly.
While each partner is firmly entrenched within the local legal
fraternity, they look to S.B.’s musical legacy for encouragement
with the label. Along with bands like The Coral Sea, The Snake The
Cross The Crown, and Hero and the Victor, local labels such as
Lobster and Matinee also have helped place Santa Barbara in the
musical spotlight. Miller quickly reminded us that Dim Mak
Records — home of Bloc Party — also started here in Santa Barbara.
And they want their label to be greatly influenced by that sense of

“Having played in independent bands, I know the frustration of
being on tour where there are no posters hanging around town and no
records in the stores,” explained Miller. “Even though you’re on a
label, you can feel abandoned. It’s so important to have a label
that will be there to offer support. Some labels get terribly upset
when a band becomes successful and leaves them to go with someone
bigger. To us, that’s the whole point.”


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