Interview by Dani Kammler

Please tell us something about the history of Van Richter Records...

The label was founded in November 1993 with the signing of Germany's Testify and The Fair Sex. Since then we have signed five other bands including Plastic Noise Experience, Sielwolf, Death and Horror Inc, Girls Under Glass and Underwater Pilots. The label's focus is on artist development as well as integrity. We were one of the first companies on the net and launched in 1995. With the demise of physical product and brick and mortar music retail we have branched into digital distribution. Van Richter was one of the first label's to sign on with Apple itunes in 2003. By striving to be first in innovation has helped us to survive as well as stay ahead of our competitors.

What was the motivation that Van Richter Records was formed?

Initially the motivation was to sign bands from outside of the states that had no representation here other than via remote imports. We saw this market was being greatly under served. Also at that time the best artists in the genre were coming from Europe and we saw this as an opportunity to start a label.

What does it work: the vision to spread the art and the need that the label works as company?

It is a balancing act of trying to be a business of profit as well as maintain artistic integrity without selling out. The business model of an artist development label in the most challenging road. To that end utilizing other sources of revenue in order to maintain street credibility is the key.

We know that the big international labels develop the artists practically from zero and the indies have to be much more creative with few resources. In this scene: which is the function that fulfills the label in the development of an artist?

The majors have deep pockets and are well capitalized via hit product. Therefore they have huge marketing budgets to through around on speculation. Small Independents do not have that luxury so we have to rely on being resourceful, running lean and mean as well as marketing at a grass roots level.

What elements do you consider to be indispensable to work with a band?

First and foremost the music needs to be there. After that it is important to have story or buzz especially today in such precarious times. The band needs to be motivated to work their release(s). A label can only do so much without the band's cooperation.

How much influence do the artists have themselves on the releases/distribution/promotion?

We allow our bands complete creative control regarding their music and packaging as they desire. Most have no interest in being involved in distribution. They do cooperate on promotions such as interviews, signings etc....

What promotion tools do you consider most effective for a debut album?

These days we would have to say the Internet has become one of the most effective promotional tools. However touring, radio, clubs and press still play a key role in an album's success.

What could you recommend artist who are at the beginning of their career?

An artist needs to be fully committed as well as take their craft seriously. Also not to get into the game to make money. Their passion needs to be the music first and foremost.

In music that isn't mainstream you can't earn money... Is it reality?

It is a huge challenge. Most all independent bands have day jobs. The odds are very low on making it big. Again this is not a vocation to go into to make money. The grim reality these days is that 90% of all music consumed is not paid for so this is what labels and artists are facing, a consumer that believes music should be free.

The sale of full albums/CDs: has it stopped being a source of income for the artists?

Yes as previously stated only 10% of music is actually bought and physical cds have been on the decline for years. Also with the shuttering of most record stores in the states there is no where to retail them. We are in the process of phasing out our physical goods based on these long term trends as we believe it is not cost effective to manufacture physical music products anymore.

Can a label promote the musical business at the same time as to benefit the artists (who finally are those who feed the business)?

Yes we don't think that concept has changed as the artist still needs the label capital and expertise in order to become successful. We are here to help the bands grow and develop. Labels have the infrastructure as well as relationships to support the artist who first and foremost need to be concentrating on making music. Labels only get paid on sales so we have have a vested interest in the artist.

Does the Internet help to develop a more global market?

The net has certainly made our music more accessible to the global market, but to date we do not know if that has translated to more sales around the world. Many countries such as eastern Europe and the far east are unfortunately traditionally pirate music markets. As mentioned physical cds are becoming irrelevant. Digital sales have been growing as itunes opens up more markets.

Considering the importance gained by the Internet downloads. Which is the tendency of the music market? The physical disc will disappear or can it continue being a necessary and collectible product by means of the art,the creativity of the presentation and its format?

Physical music is being phased out and will probably become niche collectible product like vinyl. As every new music generation comes up they care less and less about physical art. Older generations will collect physical goods but it will not be cost effective for labels to produce them going forward into the the future.

Which is the type of ideal band you would like to work with?

One that has great music, willing to sacrifice and do everything possible to get it out there and create fans regardless of what it takes.

Finally a few words to our readers, who love the music as much as we do....

If you have a passion for independent music please go out and support it by buying music as if you don't it will all eventually disappear.