Interview by Daryl Litts

For quite a while now, the record label Van Richter has received many complaints and criticisms on the USENET newsgroup for Industrial music, also known as RMI ( Negative allegations were made against Paul Abramson, president of Van Richter, concerning his sales strtegies and his policies on servicing radio stations, clubs, etc.. Contrary to these negative accusations on RMI, Paul has generously serviced In_Faction with a variety of Van Richter material, and aided in our contact with bands on his label (see the interview with The Fair Sex in this issue). I won't repeat everything posted in this newsgroup in these pages; but I will give Paul a chance to defend himself and Van Richter Records. I contacted Paul personally concerning these issues, and here is what he thought:

IF: As you know, many accusations were made about you, including some concerning the recalling of promotional material.

PA: Without reading every flame on RMI I can't answer all these allegations. However those who know us and continue to work with us over the past five years respect our ethical stance on certain issues in the industry as well as know we don't take or put up with any crap. I can tell you of the 1000's of CDS we have send out to radio, press, DJ pools, and general giveaways we have only asked three college radio stations to return product because they stated in no uncertain terms it would not be played. Legally all promo CDS are property of the Label/Artist and rightfully should be returned on demand. Any promo cds that were returned (recalled) were sent back out to radio stations that supported the genre. As a small label we can ill afford to service media that refuses to give our artists exposure or attempts to profit by illegally selling the promo units. We only wish the majority of the labels would legally enforce this as well as it only hurts the artist who only gets paid from sale of new goods. And people wonder why this or that band is not around anymore thereafter?! Also we have taken strong positions against payola which for some reason has not been supported at least at college radio of recent. Stations managers have wrongfully taken the position that since their DJ's are there as volunteers they should be able to do whatever they want. Again this only hurts the artists financially who make their living this way. I don't know what other allegations are floating around on RMI as of late and frankly I have not read the newsgroup as of late because of the three years we were proactive on it, people in the newsgroup seemed only interested in tearing labels/artists down instead of supporting a genre which unfortunately is dying out! Also it appeared the majority of the people on the RMI newsgroup never bought records but wanted everything for free and complained if a band/label did not send a free CD! Therefore I did not find this a productive use of our time...and from what you are stating in this interview that situation has not changed.....

IF: I know Van Richter gives and has given out more promos than most smaller labels do. It seems like you do a lot of work to remain media/fan friendly. Is this the hardest or most time-consuming part of your job?

PA: Yes its almost a thankless job because other than the supportive fans most people in the media are quite jadded or take free promos for granted or don't really unserstand te purpose of promos. Most college radio stations look at the majority of them like every day is XMas and or beer money!...which as mentioned only hurts the bands! I would not say it is the hardest part of my job (because I do so many different things) but definately at least in the last few years the least rewarding because of the attitudes mentioned above

IF: Can you give us any report as to the sales of Van Richter records? I mean, you seem like you're doing something right despite the obviously exaggerated comments on RMI, especially since you've been going strong f or 5 years now.

PA: Again we don't waste our time with RMI for reasons previously stated so I don't know the false statements being flamed around which I can not comment on. If you or any one in the music business want sales figures of any release (must have bar code) there is a reporting service that the music industry uses called "Sound Scan" which is 90% accurate last time I checked. We have been around five years and will continue to survive despite those that have had their personal agendas in attempts to bring us down. As long as our bands are around and there is still industrial music worth putting out (less and less these days) Van Richter will be around and 100% indie unlike many other "Industrial Labels".

IF: You also give maximum attention and support to your artists, even at the expense ofhaving less releases on your label. Is this a "quality over quantity" issue, or do you consciously try to keep Van Richter limited in size?

PA: Exactly ...every VR release is of the highest quality. Our objective is to put out quality music first and foremost. Van Richter will always stand for great old school industrial music like the old 80's Wax Trax label. We will never sell out and put out 30 shitty releases a month like some labels. Our mission statement is "To blance artistic integrity with economic success". Also have a small roster allows us to work every record as a priority for extended periods of time!

IF: Some people have accused you of being pushy and aggressive in your sales strategies. Can you explain why they might say this?

PA: If we were not aggressive we would not be doing our job. I would be concerned it people said we did not promote our bands or push our records....then I know we would not be doing the job for our bands!

IF: I've read other interviews with you, where jealousy-fueled sabotage by employees of other labels was implied. Can you give us more detail as to why you think this?

PA: Unfortunately a certain individual who will remain nameless has gone to great lengths to attempt to sabotage us by sending false information by email, fax etc... to other Distributors, Labels and media. From my personal experience with this person I think the jealously stemmed from several points. First I own this company outright and have financed it with my own money 100%! This person is an employee (manager)who markets themself as a Label Owner. Second we have national distribution for our line, this person's Label does not, Third we have developed our acts over five years ie. TESTIFY etc.... where as this person can not keep a roster. Therefore I think these as well as other issues (personal to this individual) have attributed to these unwarrented and petty attacks.

IF: It has even been suggested that you lied about your previous employment at WaxTrax! Records. How long did you work there, and what did you do there?

PA: Four years. Field sales rep. I also did A & R for sublabel M Beat. I don't care what people gave me the assets to fund Van Richter and carry on lost Wax Trax traditions

IF: Any last comments for fans of Van Riachter, or industrial fans in general?

PA: Again I do not want to give credence to RMI. These kids need to get a life! There is nothing positive happening in that newsgroup. It is just a bunch of jaded kids looking for some freebees or wrongfully selling them....and one wonders why this genre is on the is because of the bad attitude of these few and the lack of support of the general youth of this generation for industrial music. We still believe in it and our bands!