Label Van Richter Records, based out of Comic con nerd mecca San Diego
The word 'label' is bandied about like a fidollaho so often, but this
company actually one that puts stuff out and gets stuff done, unlike
your cousin's brother's accountant's friend who has a PC, a CD burner,
TB: The label was originally based out of LA and Palm Springs, right? When did you form?
PA: We started the Label in 1993 in San Diego, then moved to Palm Springs, Los Angeles then back to San Diego However we still maintain presences in all locations to date (warehouse in LA, administrative services in Palm Springs)
TB: You were working for a major label in Chicago previous?
PA: Actually the only Major I ever worked for was Arista back in the early 1980's. Then I moved on to Chicago based Wax Trax Records and imprint M Beat Records which was an indie that eventually was taken over by TVT before shuttering. Then as you may know TVT when bankrupt in recent years. (How the once mighty have fallen)
TB: There were many start up labels at that time, many since come and gone. What made you want to start one? PA At the time of the early 90's it was not such a crowded space for the genre. There were numerous great foreign bands that did not have representation in North America. Also then most fans bought music instead of stealing it like they do today. So we thought we were in the right place in the right time Unfortunately it turned out we started at the top of the market and watched everything decline over the next 17 years
TB: Did you run the label in industrial central, Chicago first?
PA: We worked out of the west coast for Wax Trax Records, mainly handling retail sales and promotions
TB: The bands you currently have on the label, are they all the original ones? Did you first go after all the other bands who were out there as well?
PA: Yes we found original bands that had only foreign deals on labels such as Rough Trade and KK Records out of Europe. Eventually they all signed to us direct when those partners shuttered. We also signed bands that were not on current labels such as Girls Under Glass.
TB: Were you in a band as well? Did you also do show promotions then?
PA:I dabbled a little when I was a kid but no unfortunately I never put anything serious together I worked as a booking agent and DJ as well as band manager before working at labels
TB: Were there any problems licensing or getting rights from European labels for these bands?
PA:No and ironically we have outlasted most all of them to date as we are still carrying the flame for the genre
TB: Which bands did you sign first? Where are they from?
PA: Testify and The Fair Sex. Both from Germany. Actually Testify was initially a side project of The Fair Sex before becoming a full fledged band in their own right. Now they outsell The Fair Sex due to their metal crossover sound to that fan base.
TB: And later, which other bands did you sign?
PA: Plastic Noise Experience (EBM), Sielwolf (Noise Experimental), Death and Horror Inc (Darkwave) Girls Under Glass (Goth Industrial) and Underwater Pilots (Synth - Future pop)
TB: You didn't got the route of demo 7" records and demo tapes and CDRs?
PA: No we wanted to portray a more professional image than some kind of DIY live in my parents basement label like others have in the genre.
TB: Unlike other labels, you never branched off into distribution. But you did start as a iTunes Vendor. When did that happen?
PA: Well physical distribution is almost dead as not many fans who do purchase music, buy cds. Many labels have stopped that practice. Yes we started as a itunes vendor in 2003 and it has been a very rewarding relationship. Apple is 95% of the digital music market and we have used their pipeline to offer distribution to artists and other labels in all genres to generate additional revenue for our label.
TB: Why mainly German bands? No American ones?
PA:We get asked this question often. We do not judge by country, however the best bands in the genre seem to come from Europe. In general their production and writing skills are superior. Also most have home studios with in house engineers. We are still open to a quality U.S. band but for whatever reason this has not happened. Also many U.S. bands refuse to self promote via touring so that does not help matters to bring them into the VR family.
TB: I suppose you're glad you never fell into any of the music trends that all died and killed bands and labels, like drum n bass, rap/metal industrial, goth poofy shirt metal etc.
PA: It is a mistake to play the trends..that is the majors territory and business model. If you are an indie you need to focus on your vision and not trends. We consider our self to be an old school goth industrial label which has served us well.
TB: But you did dabble in various technologies that came and went, like FLAC. The Van Richter Radio stream, other online sales companies (MS, Sony etc)
PA: Yes we did not put all our eggs in one format basket. Most of these formats have come and gone as Apple has become the standard for selling music. That is for the 10% of consumers that actually buy music.
TB: What do you think of online sharing now, after Napster has been replaced by torrents?
PA: I think you would call that stealing music which is wrong and has put so many bands, retailers labels and distributors out of business. 90% of all music consumers steal music so that in it self is causing the art form to crater.
TB: Have you thought about diversifying into other types of bands? Like some industrial labels who signed rock/metal bands?
PA: We try to stay true to our vision. We have bands that crossover into metal like Testify and Sielwolf. We have diversified by doing distribution - aggregation via digital distribution for all genres of music on a non exclusive basis. This additional revenue lets us keep true to our vision and not sell out or release a bunch of crap in order to survive.
TB: Music is getting hard to sell these days, what are you doing to liven things up?
PA: It is hard to sell music because most people steal it. Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free? We continue to promote more using viral methods to get this out to the genre base. We try to educate them as to the value in buying music and how it supports the genre.
TB: Are there any other bands out there you think are still impressing?
PA: Actually not much new on the horizon for reasons previously mentioned. We are doing allot more reissues than anything else at the moment but we are always looking for new up and coming talent and do accept unsolicited demos. The submission information is listed on our website. vanrichter.net
TB: Fans can buy songs off your website, what format are they in?
PA: Yes our award winning website vanrichter.net has been up for 15 years. Fans can buy physical compact discs, MP3 as well as AAC downloads directly or through itunes. We also list all the retail stores in various states and countries that carry us including mail order companies.
TB: okley dokely! That concludes this fun interview
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