The Myth of the Padded Envelope

I’ve really been enjoying the Other Record Labels podcast, where Scott Orr of Other Records interviews other indie label people. It’s always interesting and I wish it had existed years ago when I was in bands constantly theorising about how labels worked – how to get signed to them and/or how they were some sort of evil conspiracy to keep my band from its well-deserved place in the pantheon of Rock.

Unsurprisingly all my crackpot theories were hilariously wrong and now that I’m running a label myself so much of what labels do makes so much more sense.

One running theme of the podcast episodes is that Scott asks all these successful label people how many bands they’ve ever signed from a cold submission (the classic CD-R in a padded envelope with a quirky twist approach) and almost every one says “none”. So many years of envelope-stuffing wasted… But it makes perfect sense. The artists we’ve signed so far have all come to us through connections. In most cases we already knew them, or at least knew someone they knew. We’re totally open to the idea of discovering bands however they appear on our radar, but now that I understand how much time, money, energy and work goes into putting out a release I can see why labels don’t jump at the chance to work with a band to which they have no connection at all, however good the music might be.

If you run a label, you should listen to Other Record Labels. If you’re in a band you should probably listen twice.