For years now, musicians have been creating their own record labels as a way to gain more control over their intellectual property and work with other talents, but the idea of running a company in addition to making music has, like everything else in the industry, changed over the past several years. Now, things can be much more technical, and the definition of a label is not what it used to be.
We spoke to electronic musicians RAC and Goldroom questions about the new label they just founded, what types of artists they’re looking to sign, and what they have coming up as artists themselves.
After years in the music business, what makes this the right time to launch a label?
RAC: I was fortunate enough to see the internet develop during my formative years and I saw how the music industry reluctantly transitioned into a digital marketplace. In a way, my own career is a product of embracing new technology and skirting around the typical career paths. That freedom allowed me to work with nearly every label out there, from majors to indies to 100% independent artists. After nearly 13 years working as a professional musician it seems like we’ve finally hit our stride as an industry. Given the experience and career paths we’ve both had, it seems like the perfect time to pass on our knowledge and help newer, younger artists navigate this ever-confusing landscape.
Where does the name come from?
RAC: Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and a sponsor of the arts. It seemed fitting given our mission statement.
You're also partnering with Ujo—tell me about why that's a good move?
RAC: Ujo represents the future to me. I’ve experienced how powerful decentralized technologies can change entire industries and I believe this will be the next big one. If you look at things now, the marketshare isn’t there and most people are still confused by it. With that said, the permissionless nature of it allows for rapid innovation and it’s only a matter of time until this makes a dent. We just want to be along for the ride and try out new ideas that connect fans and artists without intermediaries.
Tell me about the partnership with Stem—what will this bring to the label?
Goldroom: We chose to work with Stem for our distribution because they're committed to being the most transparent and flexible distributor, something that resonates with us as artists. We aspire to reinvigorate the remix economy, and one of the first things we plan on doing is offering all remixers a percentage of profits from sales and streams of their remixes. Andre and I owe a huge portion of our career to the remixing work we've done, and now we'd like to treat remixers the way we've always fought to be treated ourselves. Stem has the tools to make that dream a reality and their excitement about our plans really sealed the deal for us.
How did you choose the first few artists you've already signed? What is the plan to get them rolling out new music?
Goldroom: Andre and I, coming from DJ backgrounds, have always taken huge pleasure in digging for new music, up-and-coming artists, and underappreciated art. It was an incredibly natural progression for us to take all of the same skills and use them here. What has been so cool here is that our conversations have been very free-flowing. We're not out there looking to aggressively sign new artists. We usually discuss an artist's career—what is working and what isn't—and then ask them how Minerva might be able to help push them forward. That absolutely includes helping to figure out finishing music and crafting larger, career-related plans.
What kind of artists are you looking to sign to your new label now that it's live?
Goldroom: Mostly we're interested in signing artists that are making music that feels authentic and true to the person who made it. We're interested in artists that make bold music and are unafraid to buck convention. Mostly we'd like our music to be timeless and rooted in great songwriting. And we'd like to work with good human beings; the underrepresented, the fringe, and the underdogs.
What do the two of you have coming up in terms of your artist careers?
RAC: I recently released a short EP of music I wrote for the Oregon Ballet Theatre. It’s a bit more experimental than my previous work, but something I’m really excited about. I’m also currently working on my third LP and hoping for a 2020 release.
Goldroom: Goldroom has just released three singles, with more to come this calendar year. We've also just announced the inaugural High Seas Festival, taking place over two weekends in San Francisco and New York. We will also be embarking on the fourth year of our annual High Seas Tour, where we throw parties on yachts across North America.