I bought a copy of “The Manual” by Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond in 1996. I’d been looking for a copy for years. Some of it made sense, some of it didn’t. I liked the writing style and the advice given. I sent my receipt as proof of purchase to the PO BOX printed in the book and requested The Guarantee.
This is the reply that Bill Drummond sent back on headed paper. By reply Bill Drummond became the first Unaware Patron of Iron Man Records. Blame him for everything. A lot has happened since 1996. Your Insanity will do.
Your Insanity could help Iron Man Records to release more music on Vinyl via Patreon. There are 21 Patrons currently supporting the record label, you are invited to become a Patron too.
Iron Man Records has been running since 1996. The label has released over 30 records and continues to work hard on a daily basis. Iron Man Records wants to make all new record releases available on Vinyl. The label will continue to make everything available through digital channels. You are invited to get involved.
Why help Iron Man Records? Here’s a quote from Detroit Poet John Sinclair, who released an album called “Mohawk” through the label in recent times. This sums up the sort of thing going through my head when I started out trying to bring people together to do something under the label name of Iron Man Records at the start of it all in 1996.
“One of the most important things to young, formative artists is having a group of one’s peers that one can be a part of, can talk to, work with, work out ideas, etc and can give crucial support.
Modern society has succeeded to a frightening degree in alienating artists from one another (and of course from people in general; or at least vice versa) and atomizing what could be a vital, active community into a group of lone, defensive, hung-up people who are afraid to talk to and/or work with anyone but themselves and (maybe) three or four friends.
A community of artists means that a group of highly conscious people can help each other in very real ways. Artists working alone are cutting themselves off from sources of inspiration and influence that can help them immeasurably in their work.
The lone artists have no one to listen to their work, no one to offer criticism and ideas that would bring their work into sharper focus with itself. Hard to get as excited, as completely involved in one’s work by oneself; when you can talk about it with/to others who are trying to do the same thing as yourself and communicate it to others, you can achieve and maintain the state of consciousness Henry James called “perception at the pitch of passion.” And who better to communicate to than those few people who are operating at the same level of awareness and involvement as oneself?
We are now in a period of expanded consciousness in all the arts. NOW is the time to find out what’s wrong with your work, NOW, at least get an inkling of what other real people will think of it and how it communicates.
So: what we want is a place for artists—musicians, painters, poets, writers, film-makers—who are committed to their art and to the concept of community involvement to meet and work with one another in an open, warm, loving, supportive environment—a place for people to come together as equals in a community venture whose success depends solely upon those involved with it.”
In reality, the journey from 1996 has been back-breaking, and the record label has generated a mountain of debt. Everything I earn working as a Tour Manager goes into keeping Iron Man Records moving forward, and in doing so, I try to provide a platform and focal point for everyone involved with the label.
I manage to ensure that new records come out every year and during difficult times perhaps every two years. Without fail, Iron Man Records continues to release records by some of the most interesting and talented artists, writers, and musicians. The label seeks to share what resources it has, and provides an alternative to the onslaught of pop culture and everything that goes with it. There has to be something that opposes the nonsense that we are surrounded by every day, there has to be a meeting place and platform for those that demand an alternative. There has to be a mechanism to share contacts, resources and ideas.
I don’t expect everyone to like what the record label releases, but at least the label gives you a choice. You don’t have to buy everything from “the man” and you don’t have to work for “the man” either. As the saying goes: “We may never defeat these swine, but we don’t have to join them.” There’s always another way, and for Iron Man Records and the musicians, artists and writers it works to support “the show must go on, by any means necessary…..or until we are all eliminated”
I can handle the logistics of running Iron Man Records by myself but I could use some help in releasing more Vinyl. At a time when “ownership” of music is becoming less important, and digital services are making “access” a much easier way of listening to more music than ever before, we have been left with a problem to solve.
How can the record label continue to release physical records by artists for people to “buy,” at a time when anyone, with any money left, can “access” more music for free, or at a fraction of the price, using streaming digital services?
We all know how to google an album, or a song, and find it for free. We’ve all done it. We all know how to access music on social networks for free, and through Streaming services like Spotify. Some of us buy our music from download sites. I think its fair to say some of us listen to more music than ever before, and choose to only spend our money on music from our favourite groups.
Iron Man Records has invested a lot of time and effort into making every release available through as many digital services as possible ensuring all the artists get a chance to be heard.
You can find all releases from Iron Man Records on iTunes, Apple Music, YouTube Music Key, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play, Deezer, Groove, Rhapsody, eMusic, Simfy Africa, iHeartRadio, MixRadio, MediaNet, VerveLife, Tidal, Gracenote, Shazam, 7Digital, Juke, JB Hi-Fi, Slacker, Guvera, KKBox, Akazoo, Anghami, Spinlet, Neurotic Media, Yandex, Target Music, ClaroMusica, Zvooq, Saavn, 8tracks, NMusic, Q.Sic and others.
From the stats, it is clear that plenty of people want to listen to the music Iron Man Records produces, but they don’t always want to pay for it. Many people want music as cheap as possible, and ideally for free. They would rather have access to music, than ownership of music. Fair enough, I can accept that, enjoy the music the way you want it. But how can the artists be supported to produce more work if people want “access” rather than “ownership?”
It makes me laugh when you hear people talking about how they won’t buy music from Amazon because Amazon doesn’t pay its workers a fair wage, and then get drawn into a discussion about what sites to use to find music for free without having to use Amazon.
People forget that starving musicians have to go to band practice, pay for their rehearsals, record their music, and work out a way to release their music. Many musicians have to plan and finance the costs of touring to promote their music by themselves. Musicians also need to eat and have a roof over their head, and I do too. Some of the more popular releases on Iron Man Records might achieve 23,000 streams over a five year period but only sell about 60 downloads. In the same period they may only sell about 150 physical copies on cd and even less on vinyl. I read recently that 1,500 streams can equal one album sale. If that statistic is correct, in order to sell 1,000 albums, you need to generate 1,500,000 streams. That sounds ridiculous to me. It’s a strange time for music if you are operating independently. There’s not much money coming in from sales here at Iron Man Records yet more people are listening to the music Iron Man Produces than at any time previously.
These days, it’s interesting to note that many musicians would probably earn more per hour, packing boxes and packages for Amazon, even on the poor wages that Amazon pays, than at most gigs they end up playing. But lets move on, you get the point. It’s a tough time for musicians and artists, and you have to be mad to carry on against such odds that are always stacked against you.
Where does Iron Man Records find itself in the digital world?
Streaming is taking off and I have always loved vinyl as a format. I want to return to making every release on Iron Man Records available on Vinyl, as well as via streaming, downloads and on CD. It’s madness in the current economic climate, but a little bit of madness is just what is required.
It is clear to me that if you can produce anything of value in terms of your music, a digital version is necessary so people can access and even download your music on their mobile devices. But if you are serious about your music, you must release it on Vinyl so the really passionate fans of your music, can get a copy to add to their collection and enjoy when they are at home.
Iron Man Records is capable of releasing records and making them available worldwide across pretty much every digital platform. Producing CDs of each release is also affordable within the context of selling physical copies, sending out to press and radio and keeping things ticking over. Vinyl however, is a little bit tricky.
Producing a record on Vinyl is about three times more expensive than producing a cd, which means you have to sell three times more records to recover the upfront costs. So something has to give.
This year has been tough for Iron Man records, income from selling physical sales has continued to decline. In fact physical sales of everything both CD, Vinyl and DVD has steadily declined year on year since 2004 when I started keeping a record. Habits are changing all the time and the market is choosing to access music rather than own music. Times are changing and either Iron Man Records changes too, or it’s game over.
Where am I going with this? I want you to sign up or subscribe to insanity.
I want to start releasing records on Vinyl again and I need help reducing the front end costs. I’m not asking anyone to pay for everything, nor am I asking anyone to pay me to run Iron Man Records, I can look after all that myself. What I want to do is invite people to contribute to reducing the costs of producing albums on Vinyl. In exchange for help and support, you will get a copy of everything the label produces, as it becomes available. Supporters will get access to digital files of everything, so you can listen on portable electronic devices, and you will get all sorts of other benefits. For example: free stuff from the Iron Man shop, stickers, email updates, free tickets, and whatever else I can think up as I go along. There is method to the madness and all you have to do is join in.
I would like to think that if you like what Iron Man Records does, if you would like to encourage the label to produce all releases on Vinyl, and if you would like to support struggling musicians who are up against it on a daily basis, then please consider offering your support to the cause.
I have put together a page on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords which I think is an interesting way to raise money. This will help produce Vinyl in small quantities and to the highest standards with regards to artwork and packaging. Patreon lets you make recurring monthly donations and thereby helps to reduce the upfront costs of producing music on vinyl.
Anyone who donates will get a copy of the vinyl produced and a number of other benefits. Anything from £1 a month or more is actually really helpful, and knowing a small regular sum is coming in each month allows me to plan more effectively.
Everything the label produces is accessible for free online anyway so you can have anything, anytime if you look for it. Offering a small monthly donation means that regardless of what goes on, Iron Man Records can keep releasing music on vinyl and keep helping the bands and artists to survive, and to make more music.
Let me be clear: Iron Man Records is not in the pop business. In fact it’s just not in business. The debts are what it’s worth. The label is trying hard, during a particularly tough time in the history of recorded music, to help musicians and artists develop a sustainable future. And to me, the simple way to do that, is give the bands and artists a Record to sell, at their gigs, that people would love to buy.
Iron Man Records wants to create Vinyl, something really special, something that presents music in a format that people want to keep and enjoy. That’s it really. Life isn’t just about computers, mobile phones and social networking. There has to be an alternative.
Have a look here and any comments, good or bad are invited.
Mark – Iron Man Records