Feb 9, 2006 interview by Tsanger Banger

TB: We are talking with Paul Abramson of Van Richter Records, an industrial label based out of Palm Springs and San Diego. Used to be in LA too. Paul, are you there?
PA: Yes, hi, how're you doing?
TB: The weather doesn't suck as much up here and we all got our prosperity checks from our local governor. He gave everyone $400. We just had an election. Basically, the $400 was not a bribe. That's what he says. But that is another discussion. Tell us about this label that men call Van Richter Records. When and where did Van Richter start?
PA: We started in 1993 down in San Diego. And started on the genre of industrial music. Before that in the mid-80s I worked for a little label called WaxTrax which was kinda one of the premiere pioneer labels for the genre.
TB: And this was before WaxTrax got enveloped by TVT and then got bought up by some major label?
PA: Well, TVT bought up the outfit at a bankruptcy and then kinda just killed off pretty much everything so eventually there's no WaxTrax moniker anymore even.
TB: Was that in Chicago you were doing that?
PA: Yeah, the labels were based in Chicago then I moved to the West coast operations.
TB: You also did stuff with Arista was it?
PA: That was my first job. For a year. Thank god I got out of that. I knew I didn't want to work for a major after I did a year with Mr. Davis.
TB: It was that traumatizing working with Whitney Houston records and whathaveyou?
PA: Well, we were the predecssors. When I first started we were doing some cool New Wave stuff but then we decided to go that money-making-diva route.
TB: I think they're still around too as a subsidiary of some label. It's hard to believe.
PA: Yeah, they're still around. BMG owns them.
TB: Yes, SonyBMG. All these leftover medium-sized major labels passed around like dirty blow-up dolls. Which ones will survive ten years from now? Who knows?
PA: They're all consolidated. Like SonyBMG, Universal-EMI are gonna probably merge. And we're down to a couple of majors.
TB: That's right SonyBMG: makers of lovely XCP software that's bad for your computer. Makers of more software that's supposedly to fix it but makes the problem worse. But the problem with SonyBMG' for those of you who are unfamiliar; there were certain titles of SonyBMG CDs that had this spyware software that was bad for your computer. They released a fix. The fix turned out to be worse. Although the problem within Canada was not that bad. There were probably less than a million units that got sold. Although the problem in America, I imagine, was probably much bigger. They did do a recall and they also did a class-action lawsuit and they agreed to replace the defective CDs.
PA: Thank god most of the fans in our genre aren't on SonyBMG.
TB: So, one thing we can say is that Van Richter CDs do not have this kind of SunComm software and also XCP software or anything like that do they?
PA: No, because I think it's pointless. People will find a way to get the music for free or reverse engineer it. So, they always say like "locks only keep an honest person honest." So, no matter what type of technology they put on there to copyright protect it, people are always gonna find a way to steal it. So, we try to appeal to kids who support the music and are gonna buy the CD. Especially independent artists. They don't make as much money to begin with so every sale is really crucial for an indie.
TB: So for those of you not familiar with those kinds of CDs, a lot of CDs from mostly major labels have usually some kind of copyright protection stuff on there. Before there was the XCP software with Sony, they had some other bit of software - just the way their CDs were manufactured - if you tried copying it in your CD drive, it froze up your drive. Do you remember that a coupla years ago Paul?
PA: They had the 'black-disc' too I think they had.
TB: People found ways to bypass the copyright on Sony CDs and other manufacturers who did that by blacking out the centre part middle. So, Sony are definitely getting known as 'the guys that try that stuffâ'
PA: They're really screwing themselves too anyway. They're suing college students for illegally downloading stuff.
TB: That is true. The RIAA has sued approximately from what I read 700 families. Busting them for downloading. And basically they're major labels suing middle-class families, trying to make an example of these people. It's basically just making themselves look bad. Fortunately, not all the labels are behind this. I heard that the guy behind Nettwerk has actually volunteered to help out one such family in the States and help them pay their legal fees. He felt that suing middle-class families and college kids was wrong. Where do you stand on such an issue?
PA: I think that's pretty out of character for Gary McBride. He doesn't exactly have the best reputation in the industry, but I think they're shooting themselves in the foot by doing that. It attracts more flies than sugar. It's hard enough now to sell CDs because of so many of the other entertainment outlets, games, videos, DVDs. It's challenging enough to keep kids interested in music. So by alienating themselves like that, they're shooting themselves in the foot. I mean you gotta give them compelling product and try to get them to support the independent stuff. iTunes has been a great help for independent music.
TB: That's definitely the current consensus. These major labels and the RIAA, once they're attempting to make an example of a small group of people, instead of getting their money back - because obviously a small family is not gonna be able to pay out a million dollars, not that downloading 10GB of stuff even equals a million dollars - but all they've managed to do is put a family near bankruptcy. They're not gonna get their money back and all they've done is get themselves a lot of bad publicity.
PA: Exactly, well that's it in a nutshell pretty much.
TB: We shall see where those lawsuits go. It is unusual for Nettwerk to do this. The guy that is behind that there (Terry McBride) he supposedly has the support of a few undisclosed heads of other labels who remain anonymous at this time. I'm not sure if this is just a publicity stunt of his or what he's trying to do, but I suppose if he can help this one family, more power to him I guess. Now when your label first started around '93, who was the first band that you signed?
PA: My first band we signed was Testify. A metal industrial band like, they've been compared to Ministry over the years. And then they have kind of a sister band, The Fair Sex. We signed them at the same time when we launched the label.
TB: Was The Fair Sex really the main band first? They're from Germany, I believe aren't they?
PA: Yes, both of them. Well, actually The Fair Sex has a much longer history and following and more of a darkwave kind of sound, but Testify clearly has much more crossover feel. Especially for the metal kids. And has done much better in the US than The Fair Sex has.
TB: Especially what with Ministry being real popular around that time too. The Fair Sex, they actually started some time in the early 80s, late 70s?
PA: That was in the 80s.
TB: And they had released a lot of stuff on a lot of out-of-print labels. Labels that are no longer around?
PA: One label basically that isn't around anymore.
TB: Last Chance Records? And you have recently re-released some tracks from a lot of those rare out-of-print records that were only on record only ever.
PA: We did that last year. We remastered it all and repackaged it in a double-CD set and we even threw two new bonus singles that had never been out before including a remake of a T-Rex song "Children of the Revolution".
TB: And another exclusive song called "Beautiful Nightmare". And this new double-CD which came out last year "The Dark Ages" it's also available online as well too?
PA: Yeah, definitely. It's available online for purchase or as digital format as well through iTunes, MSN, Sony, Yahoo. It's available everywhere pretty much.
TB: You had an office also in LA for a while, but you split time between the LA office and Palm Springs office. When did you close down the LA office and go San Diego?
PA: We moved out of there in October (2005) and we've been there about 8 years and getting expensive, so we wanted to scale down. We definitely got a better deal down here and originally I lived here and went to college here so I was happy to be out of there and breathing clean air.
TB: For those of us who are ignorant of California geography, how far is Palm Springs from LA?
PA: About 90 miles.
TB: So it's not terribly far. How far is San Diego from Palm Springs then?
PA: About the same. Palm Springs is kinda in the middle but due east between LA and San Diego.
TB: So this takes us to some time in the mid-90s. Who was the third band after Testify and The Fair Sex to get signed?
PA: Plastic Noise Experience. We signed them and put out that record -196Âşc. That was in'94 we put that out.
TB: Originally that was a digipak type version from from Kk Records and your type was different and slightly different tracklisting too wasn't it?
PA: We actually combined - they had a digipak ep and they had another full-length - and we kinda combined them both together and remastered it. So it's a better value than Kk, which is no longer around. They even had an office in Canada and they shut that down years ago.
TB: Yeah, I recall trying to get a hold of them. They were open for, like, two weeks. And then if you blinked you missed it.
PA: I guess the owner Joseph, he got out of the scheme early. He saw there was no money in it.
TB: What's he up to nowadays?
PA: He runs a travel agency.
TB: What country?
PA: Belgium, where he was originally out of.
TB: So he hopped back and stayed there. Kk Records was a nice little label.
PA: Some great bands, we got a couple off them and Sielwolf.
TB: Some very great bands, we in fact have Kk Records first release here at the station - it's some punk compilation, if you can believe that. And it features some Canadian bands. Who would think, eh?
PA: Probably a collectors' item. Make sure that you hold onto that.
TB: Yes, very strange, very rare. People don't recall that Kk Records started out as a very different label. They produced a lot of very kickass bands. Of course, Belgium is probably best known for bands like Front 242 and what have you. And Plastic Noise Experience, now recently, he sort of stopped - would you say they broke up?
PA: The band seperated and then one of the guys, the lead vocalist (Claus Kruse) - he decided to start it up again as a solo project. But we got the last studio recording of them as a band together and we put that out last year, called "Noised". And that had all the stuff that was on the last Kk Record which was "Rauschen". And six brand new tracks that they had recorded for us, including the remake of the theme song from Hellraiser 3, originally done by Motorhead.
TB: That's funny. Motorhead also did a video for that song too.
PA: You should see the PNE version, it's pretty good.
TB: It's true people can check out videos of your songs on the website too as well can't they?
PA: Yeah, just go to Van Richter.net and click on the Videos and we have a whole bunch of videos on there (as well as YouTube.com), in fact we're working on a new video right now for Testify. At some point in the future we're gonna take all our videos and remaster them and put them all on a DVD compilation (see the Mindripper VHS). If people are still buying DVDs, at some point when we get the time and extra funds because it still requires authoring and all that stuff, we'll out together a DVD package. It'll have 12, 15 videos on there and put it out.
TB: VHS is a thing of the past. DVD is definitely where it's at, and now you'll have some new videos as well too.
PA: Yeah, we had it on VHS but we sold it out a while ago. There's not a lot of demand for VHS these days. At some point we're looking to do a DVD. It all takes money'hat's why if kids buy our records, we could do a lot more stuff. We could do more t-shirts, the extras, y' know. Because you need the support of the audience. If there's no one buying your stuff, all you're doing is making merchandise. And it just sits here piling up. "Why don't we do vinyl, why don't do this or that?" If we had demand, we would do it, believe me.
TB: Vinyl seems to be the realm of the whole electronica-type music of course.
PA: The audiophiles like it, the DJs like it. It's very expensive to make.
TB: Have you ever thought about putting out a HD CD? (20 bit, 48kHz)
PA: Yeah, that's almost on the same lines as a DVD. You still have to spend extra money on the engineering on that. Way back in the 90s people were doing Enhanced CDs and all that too. And it just you know...br> TB: End up costing a bit more to engineer and master.
PA: Costing more money, and unless you got a big name like Nine Inch Nails - We actually went after the NIN catalog last summer. It was on the auction block. TVT defaulted on a $25 million bank loan and they had pledged the Nine Inch Nails record (Pretty Hate Machine) and so it was on the auction block. Had we got a record like that, then we would've done DualDisc and all that cuz there's certainly gonna be a high demand for something like that. It isn't even available in the US right now you know. TVT pulled it because they had to pledge it to the bank. I think it's still available in Canada but that's it. It's not available in the States. Only as an import.
TB: So, TVT, their lawyers are very nervous right now. Pulling 24/7. Perhaps not doing as well as they once did.
PA: They have Wu-Tang whatever. That stuff does well. They're just a hip-hop label now.
TB: TVT; no longer the industrial label they once were, for those of you who haven't been around for the last ten years.
PA: Not even a rock label anymore.
TB: True, and the WaxTrax catalog they once owned, it's gone into obscurity now. Can't get anymore of that stuff.
PA: What little was left went onto the auction block with the Nine Inch Nails stuff and I think some guy bought it for $6.5 million.
TB: Hopefully we'll see some of those old releases out again but most of the good releases just went into obscurity and the bands tried to get them back and those that were successful got em back, like Ministry. If you have that kind of power, but a lot of them probably went into osbscurity. So hopefully we'll see those again some day. With Plastic Noise Experience, you released another album "Neural Transmission" as well too.
PA: Yeah, we did that a year later when he went onto a label before Kk. It's also defunct, called Gothik Arts. We put out all those tracks that were out of print. It's still a really good record. People still buy it once in a while. It gets club plays still.
TB: And speaking of Belgium as well, you also had three albums from Sielwolf.
PA: Yeah, we had three, they're a German band from Frankfurt. They went a kind of noisier, Godflesh kind of direction. They mix Rammstein, Godflesh, Neubauten. More of the noisier ambient industrial.
TB: Definitely popular before bands like Rammstein came about.
PA: Exactly. They were the predecessors.
TB: So anyone who's listening, if you like the Rammstein, the Nine Inch Nails, and other more popular bands, Ministry and what have you, if you wanna hear other bands were doing it ten, fifteen years before they were - before those bands got popular, check out the Sielwolf, the Testify, and The Fair Sex, Plastic Noise Experience, and of course two other bands you have here: Girls Under Glass, one of the newer signings you have. Also from Germany too aren't they?
PA: Yeah, they're from Hamburg. We signed them back in '99. We put kind of a best-of compilation out of all their best songs picked. We put that out as "Nightmares" with a new track that no one ever put out. It was a John Carpenter theme for "Halloween". On iTunes, when October rolls around, that song gets five-hundred paid downloads. So people still love that track.
TB: Yes, a good tune. I think Electric Hellfire Club does a version of that tune too. For those of you out there, this is the soundtrack to that popular movie. Not that Misfits song. You also followed up the "Nightmares" CD with an ep. What's the name of that ep and who does that cover?
PA: That was "Frozen" and that was the same song by Madonna. We couldn't get it released in Europe because I guess Warner wouldn't let 'em release the song over there so we put it out here on ep and it also has some tracks off the record we're finally releasing now "Equlibrium" which has a Das Ich remix of "Wings" and it has another mix of "Desire Lasts Forever" and then we threw on some other kinda seminal tracks like "The Bitter End" which is a track from when they had one album out on Nuclear Blast, believe it or not. From "Firewalker" and it was a single. They didn't do anything to support it so they gave us that song and then of course it has the one track from Wolfsheim on there from before Peter Heppner got famous. Girls Under Glass actually discovered them and he sang on one of their songs. Which is "Grey to Grey".
TB: Yes, and for those of you who don't know; Wolfsheim do the kinda synth-pop stuff. Fairly popular. I think they've put out a few things probably on Metropolis, I imagine.
PA: Probably licensed, if it was on Strange Ways. They're the label that broke them out of Germany. They had bands like, well their flgship band was Wolfsheim, but they also had bands like Beborn Beton and more of that synth-pop crossover future pop. Now bands like Covenant and others do some stuff similar. VNV Nation etc. We signed a band that's along those lines. We just signed them this year that I think could be a big seller if the kids get behind 'em, called The Underwater Pilots. They're also from Germany. In fact they were discovered by Funker Vogt's label (they put out their own stuff now on Repo Records).
TB: How long has this band been around? Underwater Pilot you say they're called?
PA: Pilots. Plural. They just put out a records last year, so this is a baby band.
TB: And similar in the style of Funker Vogt?
PA: More like Covenant, VNV sound.
TB: And what's the name of the new release that we'll be hearing from them? Will this be an album that you'll be licensing and be putting out over here?
PA: Yeah, we're gonna be releasing it with some exclusive remixes, called "Tranquil Places". Hopefully out by the summer. We have a coupla releases ahead of that.
TB: Will it have the same artwork?
PA: It'll be a jewel box, not a digipak. And like I said it's gonna have some extra bonus tracks on it.
TB: Tell us about the Canadian band you have on your label too.
PA: The one Canadian band, it's Death and Horror Incorporated.
TB: That's DHI to you folks out there into acronyms. You have two releases from them. Which are those two releases?
PA: We have basically have their whole catalog. "Bitter Alloys/Pressures Collide" which is a combination of two records. And then "Transmissions From the Chemical Land" which was out of print and then the guys redid the whole record and we put it out and then just kinda disappeared on us. I think they did trance project and then they disappeared. The had it out on Kk or something. Transformantra or something? It was a little disappointing.
TB: Have you ever heard that album?
PA: Uh, I think parts of it.
TB: I've never actually seen it myself. [DHI renamed themselves as Transformantra, did 1 CD and disappeared] I wouldn't mind hearing what it sounds like.
PA: It's a different direction. Wouldn't mind getting some more Canadian stuff but there isn't a lot of industrial out there like there used to be.
TB: The scene has changed. A lot of labels have come and gone. But Van Richter is back and it's due to your label that we're able to hear a lot of stuff that gets out of print, like the DHI stuff which, their four releases were formerly on Fringe which is no longer around, haven't been for a while. And you combined "Transmissions" and the "Chemical Land" ep into the single CD and the "Bitter Alloys" ep and the "Pressures Collide" ep. So, a lot of peopleare complaining that "we can't find this CD anymore, won't someone please re-release it?"
PA: Well, it's there, we never put anything out of print. Unlike our competitors, like Metro who put stuff out of print because they pick up way too much stuff and they're like a Wal-Mart. We kinda keep a small boutique catalog and make sure the stuff is active so that people can get it. It's certainly available on iTunes as well as our own digital shop we have on our own website.
TB: There certainly doesn't seem much point in owning the rights to it if you're not even gonna print it or even make it available digitially and it just sits there.
PA: Well a lot of labels do that unfortunately, big ones like Sanctuary. They sit on huge catalogs and never reissue it. Wea, Rhino - there's a bunch of stuff they sit on and they never make it available again. They just horde it, I don't know why.
TB: When they could be making money on it. It's terrible because the artist loses out. The fans lose out because they can't get what they want. So, people can get your stuff through a few different means then. They can go on the website and order it pretty much well from any country at VanRichter.net.
PA: We take all forms of payment; cheques, credit card, PayPal, you name it, we take it y' know. We also have our stuff in the US in shops through Fontana/Universal Music. They do our distribution, so we're available in all the stores.
TB: For those who can't get it of course (buy it as a CD), the download from iTunes and Yahoo and MSN and all the others and also on the website itself, you can download those as high-quality MP3s. And you can also preview the videos as well. You also have a few other things. What kind of shirts do you have?
PA: Well, those are kind of a limited supply bcause you know those are not exactly big sellers. We have a few left. We have a few Girls Under Glass shirts left. So if anyone wants to buy those up. Those are the last ones we printed. The other stuff is available on special order now. We don't get a lot of demand. If the band is on the road, that's when you're gonna sell shirts, at a venue.
TB: One thing we could mention too, the CDs you sell too. They're usually approximately around fifteen bucks, which is not bad, considering that the price of getting the other imported stuff on some German label would usually be a lot more than that.
PA: Yeah, usually most of the stuff on import in the US is $20 or more. And then our domestic versions have bonus tracks, as well as remastering. So you get more music for less money. It's a win/win.
TB: People can also download a mail order form off your website, is that correct?
PA: Yeah, we have order forms they can download. We have a script where they can fill out the information, they don't even have to download it. They can just fill in the information.
TB: And so, this summer you've got the new CD coming out again. What's it called again?
PA: You mean the Underwater Pilot one? "Tranquil Places". We have a Fair Sex remix record, we have a Best of Testify record with a Die Warzau exclusive remix on it. So we're gonna get those out first. Hopefully we'll get to the Underwater Pilot record by the summer. It takes for a small label. It takes time to promote between releases. The new one we're working on right now is the Girls Under Glass one "Equilibrium" which we put three bonus tracks on from a side-project of theirs, so we kinda a unique package. They had a side-project that used to be called Trauma, that's been outta print for years.
TB: Is that that band that was on Machinery? Heh-heh. We have that CD at the station too. Pretty ancient. Hard to find.
PA: That's a collectors item too. Thank go people don't steal 'em from your station.
TB: I dunno, I'll go check and see if it's still there! I've already looked through the whole collection. There's a lotta neat stuff. A lot of neat old labels that are around. And a lot of them aren't around anymore so it's good to see that the stuff is still there.
PA: We thought of going inactive around 2002 too, we didn't have good distribution and we hadn't released anything until we we're just selling catalog, until last year, when we got the Universal deal. It's a lot harder out there now, there's a lot less stores out there. They all go out of business because kids don't buy music.
TB: Now, you've got the music going on through iTunes, tell us about the VanRichter Radio. Is that set up as a PodCast technically?
PA: No, because it's not live and we're not recording it. It just streams. We have actually three radio stations. We have one that goes through Live365 that gets integrated into iTunes, called VanRichter Radio. And then we just send them our releases and they get programmed in and they play our songs randomly from our catalog 24/7. So people just hear random tracks from our label, like about 300 songs. And if you actually listen to it through iTunes, you don't get all the metadata. They don't get to see the name of the band and song. If you launch it through our website, you get to see all that information and there's also a button you can click on to purchase. We have another station through RuleRadio which you can launch through our website. Same features, but you can also buy the downloads. And our third one, this Canadian one, I think they went bankrupt - but they never took the station down, so it's still around. RadioMoi (www.radiomoi.com) out of Toronto. I think it still runs. The big station we have that runs is the Live365 station. We got picked to have it integrated into iTunes. If you go to your iTunes, and you click on your Radio Preference, and you go under like Heavy Metal, you see Van Richter Radio and it has two high and low bit-rate streams. It's pretty big for us because people can listen to all the stuff and buy the iTunes songs right there. There's a very limited amount of space for you to be picked and integrated into the iTunes player like that.
TB: Very hard to get into iTunes definitely.
PA: We know it's hard, we were there on the ground floor. That's why we also offer the oppurtunity to other indie labels if they wanna go through iTunes to sell their music. We offer sub-distribution deals because we're trying to bw able to shift our revenue stream too so that we can continue to put out music with integrity and not sell out like Cleopatra or Metropolis and just put out a buncha crap and keep money comin' in the door. I'd rather just sub-distribute other labels through iTunes and help that revenue to fund the creative portion of our label.
TB: Well, we'll try and get that Interdimensional stuff and some of the other labels I work with there.
PA: We picked up 4 or 5 labels in the US. We have mostly like, metal, death metal labels. There's a coupla goth labels outta Seattle. They're all happy to have their stuff on iTunes, so I'm surprised we're not getting more, but y' know we're slowly, constantly putting the word out.
TB: It should also be noted that when you're putting a band's CD on iTunes, at least it's all being done legally. Unlike other bands who wake up and find your stuff on iTunes or downloadable as a ringtone without your knowledge. We will not mention names, but that happens to some bands. Certainly something you don't want to happen to your band.
PA: It's just as bad if you do a deal with a company and you get your stuff on iTunes and they don't pay you for your sales. There's a coupla companies out there, that I won't mention, that are doing that. They actually helped our business, because they come to us because they got ripped off by a company that was supposed to put their stuff on iTunes and never paid 'em.
TB: I recall two or three years ago, when iTunes was first really getting popular (the iTunes Store) every kid and his dog offered to put your stuff on iTunes. And just spam emails left and right and offers, websites and all sorts of stuff. Every kid and their dog offered to do iTunes.
PA: You have to be careful who you're working with. There's as many fishing schysters out there. We account and pay once you're in the system. You get something monthly, as long as you have sales. That's what it all boils down to.
TB: It's funny, I search back some of the old emails and printouts I have, and then I search currently today, two or three years later, to see if they actually did anything with iTunes. And well, not really. Heh heh! It's a good thing we didn't go with them two or three years ago.
PA: Well, we're ramping up that portion of our company because eventally, everything is gonna go digital. I even see some record labels that are: even one of the Funker Vogt albums is a digital only release. So people are going away from finished goods because it's expensive and people aren't buying them like they used to. It costs money to press up a CD, do all the packaging, then market them, then to put em through brick 'n' mortar distribution, and then they take a big cut. And then you get your share, and you gotta pay royalties. There's not a lot left at the end of the day unless you're movin' some units or you haveta mark the prices up too. It gets too hard to compete. It's hard to compete when you can put stuff on iTunes and sell 99¢ downloads.
TB: Yes, definitely the wave of the future. Hard to believe that even in this day and age, major labels and other critics don't understand that digital downloads is another venue. It's a bigger venue.
PA: That's the only portion of our industry that's growing. CD sales were down again 15% last year so...
TB: And all those major labels, they were very slow to embrace the whole iTunes thing. It's only cuz of Apple and iTunes that they got into a deal with it. But before that, those who may not recall, 4 or 5 years ago, the major labels were suing people who were downloading .... I mean, they still are, some of these labels as well too, and they have not embraced iTunes and downloading like they should have four years ago. Now they are, the last year and this year. A little late to the party.
PA: It helps us. We embraced it right back even in the dot.com era when all those companies came and went the first time around. All those startup companies. You never know who's going to be successful. We're independent, you have nothing to lose y' know. At the minimum, we get some exposure. As long as someone isn't blogging our stuff all around the world. After all those '99 dot.com meltdowns, we're a little more cautious. Apple iTunes is 80% of the download market and it's gonna continue to be that way cuz they're the ones with the iPod hardware to drive it. These other download models don't have any hardware. And then the ones that are doing subscription models, no one makes any money off that, except the company doing the subscription model 'cause you're paying $19.99/month and it's as many tracks as you wanna download. There's no way artists and record labels are gonna get paid because when they do the math and a pro-rated share, there's nothin' left. So we encourage other artists/record companies not to do subscription models. Only license agreements with companies that only do deals á la carte deals where yo'™re buying eacg download seperately, or the album. But not deals where you license your stuff for subscription service, like cable. The customer pays $19.99 a month but they download a million tracks, and you're one of that million, and you divide that by a $19.99 = there's no money!
TB: And even if it's streaming, no matter what kind of technology the labels use to try to limit the replication of a downloaded MP3 (there's technology to limit burning of MP3 and how many times it can be copied and so forth) there's always someone who's gonna get around that.
PA: There's always a workaround, always the reverse engineering.
TB: So what did we learn? Don't do the whole subscription deal, cuz you'll just shoot yourself in the foot.
PA: Pretty much. At least you don't need to fan the flames of a deal that's only gonna put money in the pocket of the company that's exploiting it. It doesn't help the artist or the record company, so...
TB: It's definitely too bad the major labels didn't embrace it sooner.
PA: The whole thing with them was they wanted to have proprietary technology (ie Sony) and they wanted to control the internet and no one can control the internet.
TB: That's like saying a hundred years from now people are gonna say "Can you believe there was a day and age when you couldn't download music off of the internet? It was illegal." I think they're gonna be laughing at us like we're a bunch of neanderthals.
PA: We hope to have at least a two or three hundred release catalog of iTunes content within the next coupla years. Like I said, we're trying to get other indie labels, cuz it's obviously easier administratively for us to deal with one party than multiple artists. We're not not big, we're still a small label. We don't have that big of a administrative staff to handle a thousand artists and have accounts for them, versus five or ten labels that have a thousand artists accumulative, and then just account for them.
TB: What kind if distribution do you have in other continents. Europe? Australia and Asia and so forth.
PA: Believe it or not, we never did no business in Asia in eleven years. Not for lack of trying. And Australia, we had a coupla companies that come and gone that we shipped product to. And believe it or not in Europe, we haven't had a good deal in a long time either. We talked to several distributors or licensing deals over there and they've all been bad.
TB: It's hard enough to do something on your own continent, let alone something talk to someone on another continent.
PA: They really got you over a barrel in some of these place too, becuz they want your stuff on credit terms. We're focusing our attention mostly on North America.
TB: Do you think you'll be working with Plastic Noise Experience under the new name? The new solo effort if you will?
PA: Well I heard they put out a record on a European label and it doesn't sound like PNE whatsoever so we haven't, we kind parted the way with Craus.
TB: What's the new name he's working under now?
PA: He's still working under the PNE name, but it doesn't sound anything remotely like PNE.
TB: Too bad. A lot industrial bands, they jump on some trend. And seven years ago, they we're never heard from again.
PA: It's like DHI. Like with Tranceformantra. This guy kept the same name but doesn't sound anything like it. It's like you hear the new Front Line Assembly. It doesn't sound like the old Front Line Assembly.
TB: Hrahaha! That's true. I guess they get bored of doing the same thing for ten, fifteen years I guess. Who all recalls all those bands that jumped on the ole drum'n'n bass bandwagon five, six years ago?
PA: Yeah, what happen to them?
TB: I tell you what happen. They all became just horrible and no one liked them again. I remember reading a one-line of Cubanate's last album, "Interference". And the review was "Hey, what do you get when you cross a good industrial band and drum'n'bass? Oh, a stinky piece of shit." AHAHAha! And Cubanate was never heard from again.
PA: Too bad, they we're a good band. They we're on Machinery.
TB: And all these bands that jumped on the trend, they came and went. Did you ever hear the last Psychopomps album? It's horrible. I think it was on Zoth Ommog before it went away. And it sounded like Nickelback with synthesizers. It was horrible.
PA: That sounds like a nightmare. That's too bad 'cause I like Psychopomps. They we're a good band too.
TB: Their last album sounds nothing like the first couple. And like I said, it sounds like a rock band with a couple synthesizers. Or every ballad that Stabbing Westward ever did. So if you're in an industrial band and you're listening to this. Don't do that.
PA: Just be true.
TB: One thing nice we can say of Van Richter, you have stayed true to the vision. You haven't gone all glam-rock on us like Cleopatra, or hip-hop like TVT/WaxTrax, or synthpop.
PA: Metro's got a lot of indie rock over there now.
TB: Yeah, they're starting to do that now. Even COP International has been known to sign a few rock-type bands now as well too. So at least Van Richter, the sound has stayed the same as well, and kept the roster the same too. As these bands come and go you'll be signing similar bands at least and not hip-hop bands.
PA: It's a challenge finding talent now. Most people aren't making music anymore either. It's always a challenge.
TB: We're talking with Paul Abramson, he is the founder of the Van Richter label based out of San Diego and Palm Springs. That's that town that Sonny Bono used to run. But he's dead now.
PA: It's also the town where Razormaid started. Do you remember the company that did all those wicked remixes back in the '80s. It was in Palm Springs. When the did the remizes for Front 242, New Order. Razormaid, that's where they were based out of.
TB: I don't think that's where Sonny Bono died? He was skiing in Colorado when he died or something.
PA: He was skiing in California. But Northern California.
TB: Was it? Too bad. There will be NO Sonny and Cher reunion album. Not now.
PA: Not 'til they're both in the grave.
TB: Bwahaha! It seems like whenever someone dies, they put out more albums than they ever did when they were alive. I'm sure when Cher goes away, she'll be doing the whole Tupac thing and putting out nine albums and they'll all be bestsellers I'm sure!
PA: Maybe we'll be popular when we're gone too.
TB: That's true, all these little labels that went away. Like Fifth Colvmn, Kk, what have you. TVT, ReCon, 21st Circuitry. A lot of labels came and went. Their stuff is very hard to find, but when you do find it, it's great. It's like finding gold if you're a fan of this kind of music. So definitely keep your eye open for the Van Richter stuff. So, as Paul said distribution within Canada is a little spotty right now. But your best bet is to order from him online at the website to get it straight. And you can get a full CD, or you can just download it digitally off iTunes or off of the website as well too.
PA: We have our own download shop off our website. The company that runs the back end has a file format that's a one-for-one transfer with no sound loss whatsoever called FLAC. So if you want a one-for-one transfer with no loss of CD sound you can buy those. Same price as a iTunes track without any loss whatsoever.
TB: So the one you have on iTunes; they sell MP3 and AAC? Or is it just MP3s?
TB: And specifically for AAC, they don't even do the low-quality MP3s anymore?
PA: No, no one does anymore really. At least the companies we have deals with.
TB: Even Yahoo and HMV and whathaveyou? Do they say AAC with them?
PA: MSN, I think they use Windows Media.
TB: Unfortunately, I don't think WMA is compatible with iPods. I don't think.
PA: They haven't sold much for us anyway. It's just a small deal. We just make it available. I don't know which one Sony is using. We have a deal with them as well. {they use WMA}
TB: And then they convert your music to whatever format it is they're selling?
PA: We try to get people to buy through iTunes. That's where the action is. Or we try to get them to buy off our own site. We do have AAC available, but we also have FLAC. I think we also have MP3. High quality MP3.
TB: Is this the kind of FLAC file one could burn to a CD using a regular program?
PA: Yeah. Just go to our webpage and you go under "Shopping" and there's digital downloads. You can go right to our Shop within the frame and you can preview every song then purchase it. You can buy the whole album, you can buy one track. You can buy the FLAC file. If you want full packaging with the tray, then you need to buy the CD. If you want the next best thing, then that's the FLAC. If you want music for your iPod, then you buy the iTunes file. We try to have many options. We have many purchase options too; PayPal, which everyone uses, credit cards, cheques, cash. We take it all.
TB: Well, If anyone wants to know exact details on how to pay or shipping and handling, just go look at the webstite. They do ship international and also within Canada. Shipping within Canada, I believe, said was only $3 for the first item, then maybe a buck or two more for more items. You can always Email and contact the manager ahead of time and he can give you an estimate on shipping and handling if you're ordering a whole lot of items. Generally, probably better to order a whole bunch of items at once rather than order them individually. It'll be cheaper on shipping and handling.
PA: We try to keep our prices down. To get people hooked up with the music. That's what it's all about for us. We haven't raised our prices in years when everything else costs more money.
TB: Yes, hard to believe some of these labels ansd stores are still charging pretty high prices for CDs now. Like, $30 still, when you're basically forcing someone to make a choice buying a CD for $9 in a store on some major label, or $30 for some other CD. You'd have to really, really like it though. For $30. An unfortunate situation. But most of the stuff on Van Richter is pretty well priced. Nothing too outlandish. Certainly not for stuff that's within America. Normally, to get this kinda stuff from Germany would be impossible or would cost arms, livers and first-borns. We're talking with Paul Abramson, he is the founder of Van Richter Records, an industrial music label out of Palm Springs and San Diego in California and he has a whole bunch of bands here. About seven bands. And he has about twenty-three releases. Tell us about the latest compilation you've put out. It's a sequel to another compilation.
PA: Yeah, we didn't want to be one of these labels that pumps out a million compilations because then they don't get really meaningful. So we did one the first year called "Mind Ripper", I guess the second year of our business. And then we put out a coupla tracks from each artist we had at the time which was, we had five artists, so we put out a ten track compilation. We budget priced it so people get a taste of the label and some exclusive mixes as well so that regular fans of the stuff would buy it. And then now, ten years later, last fall we released "Mind Ripper 2" which has twelve tracks. Two from each of the six artists and again we put some exclusive stuff on there as well. So that's a good way to get introduced to the label. Make sure all the stuff's real strong. We put on the songs we believe are the strongest from each artist.
TB: I would say doing the videos works real well too. That is in fact how I got introduced to Testify. Through that vide of theirs, What's the name of that song off of "Testify 01"?
PA: "Anger"?
TB: Yeah, that's the tune. It's on the video compilation too.
PA: I think at some point it was on MuchMusic. So maybe you saw it there.
TB: Yeah, that's where I saw it. They don't play it a whole lot but at the time that play it now and then. They even have one video for PNE that they play. That cover of "Small Town Boy" I think?
PA: We never did a video for that song but...
TB: Is that a cover of that Bronski Beat tune?
PA: Yeah, but we never did a video for that one.
TB: Must've been from the European label he was on. Kk or something (off of "Neural Transmission").
PA: It was Gothic Arts, but I don't think they did a video for that either. Unless it's a bootleg.
TB: It wasn't like a really well done video mind you.
PA: We did one for "Last Regression" and "Synthesis" which were off the "-196Â"â record
TB: And some day we'll see those on DVD.
PA: Hopin. Like I said, right now, it's not our focus. We have like, we build up our digital business and that'll fund the other side where we can release more stuff because, like I said, the CDs, the finished product isn't really paying for itself right now because people buy so little music these days.
TB: It's definitely harder but still I find for this kind of music it's....
PA: Canadian labels are gone too. All those labels that were up there in Canada; Gashed...¦ What was that one that had the distribution side?
TB: Inception¦ Bisekt?
PA: No, another company. Part of Gashed.
TB: Yes, Mimicry.
PA: Yeah, they're gone.
TB: Even all the small ones in Vancouver. Factoria, KSM¦ I heard the guy from RasDVA is doing stuff again.
PA: Really? I haven't heard anything.
TB: Go check his website. It's at MySpace.com. You know his name and how to find it. Ric Lasiak of RasDVA Records.
PA: I didn't hear much the first time out either.
TB: He's putting out another 4CD compilation, a sequel to "There Is No Time". Another another 4CD comp and you might hear the band I work with on there. I can't remember what it's called... something like "There Is No More Time" or something like that. ("No Sense Of Time" actually). Anyway, that's what he's working on. He decided to jump back in. We'll see if that happens hopefully.
PA: Tough time time to jump back in, ha ha! It won't be inexpensive to produce either.
TB: yeah, people think CDs cost an arm and a leg to manufacture but it's not so much the manufacturing of them that costs a lot, it's the selling them after the fact that's the hard part.
PA: That's it. You have to do all the radio, promotion, the ads, if there's any touring, you have to pay for the tour. It's a lot of money to put out. It's a more riskier business than ever.
TB: So it's all that stuff that costs more than the actual manufacturing really.
PA: Yeah, it adds to it. Believe me. In Canada, believe it or not, we get all our releases covered in Exclaim! so we are getting our stuff reviewed all the time we've had a new release.
TB: What's that website address again that people can check out?
PA: It's www.Vanrichter.net. We also hope to organize some record release parties up there so hopefully you can help us out with that.
TB: Yes, well I emailed and called him so we'll see how it goes on there. But it looks like I'll have to throw rocks through windows to get things going on here.
PA: pretty much, you have to get the electric cattle prod behind someone up there! That's how things work.
TB: Ha ha! Well he works there, I don't (DJ Nik Rofeelya). I'll see how busy I am and if he jump on it maybe I'll just do it myself. But it's basically his venue. Anyway, we have been talking with Paul Abramson of Van Richter Records, an industrial music label out of California. And lotsa new bands on there, also in-print, lotsa new German industrial-type stuff like mom used to make back in 1997. But mom don't make it no more cuz all the labels they ain't around no more. But this label still is, VanRichter.net. Pretty neat stuff, go check it out. Mail order, downloads at iTunes, you can buy the whole CD. You can preview all the songs, so if you're not sure of what you're getting, and a lot of people are hesitant to get into a new band, you can preview all the songs on the internet there if you have high-speed internet. And you can buy the full CD or download it off iTunes or several other websites as well too.
PA: If you're listening to this station, you call always request it as well. haaha!
TB: That's true! Please listen to the station and please request it. You can also listen to the music on iTunes Radio on three different radio stations on the iTunes Radio (listed under Hard Rock!). Check it out there, it's a streaming 24/7 stream. I've heard it! It sounds pretty cool. It just plays the songs in random order and you get to hear all of em. So, we'll listen to some of the tunes now¦ I can tell all the folks right now that if you like the harder industrial stuff, not the wimpy stuff with the weak experimental stuff, or even the synth-pop stuff, or a metal band that thinks it's industrial, as opposed to an industrial band that has metal tendencies (which I think is better myself), I can safely say that all the bands on Van Richter all soundm pretty cool. They all sound pretty hard, and none of them as far as I know have pulled a "Cubanate" or a "Clay People". That is to say, they haven't gone all "Metallica" on us and gone all wimpy. So, do listen to the Radio and we now return to Tsanger Banger on FM88.5 on The Maleus Maleficarum