Burn Money – Become A Patron of Iron Man Records

March 3, 2016

Burn-Money-A6-Postcard-No-Crop-Marks

Iron Man Records wants to make all new record releases available on Vinyl.

23 Patrons currently support the record label. You are invited to become a Patron to ensure the insanity continues.

The journey from 1996, when Iron Man Records began, has been back-breaking. The record label has generated a mountain of debt and a serious Class “A” drug habit would have probably worked out a lot cheaper. Everything I earn, working as a Tour Manager, goes into keeping Iron Man Records moving and your support would be much appreciated at a critical time.

Iron Man Records continues to release records by some of the most interesting and talented artists, writers, and musicians. There has to be something that opposes the “reality” that we are surrounded by every day.

I don’t expect everyone to like what the record label releases, but at least you have a choice.

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. It’s a tough time for musicians and artists, and you have to be mad to carry on sometimes.

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. Are you still with me on this?

BVPy5zWIEAAgl1f

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 a number of rewards to make it all worth while.

Patrons will get a copy of everything the label produces, as it becomes available. Patrons will also 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, all you have to do is join in.

If you want 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 a page together on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords which appears to be an interesting way to raise money. This will help produce Vinyl in small quantities and to the highest standards. Patreon lets you make recurring monthly donations and helps to reduce the upfront costs of producing music on vinyl. Anything from £1 a month or more is actually really helpful.

Iron Man Records is not in the pop business. The Label’s debts are what it’s worth. The label is trying hard, during a tough time in the history of recorded music, to help musicians and artists develop a sustainable future. To me, the simple way to do that, is to give the bands and artists a record to sell at gigs, that people would love to buy.

Iron Man Records wants to create Vinyl, something special, something that presents music in a format that people want to keep and enjoy. Life isn’t just about computers, mobile phones and social networking. There has to be an alternative. So if you want to join in and Burn Money, become a Patron and let’s make something happen. You have to make the world you want to live in.

Have a look here and any comments, good or bad are invited.

Immanentize

 

Your Insanity Will Do – Become A Patron Of Iron Man Records

February 8, 2016

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.

Iron Man Records - Your Guarantee

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.

To-The-Gig

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”

Sound-System

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.

Immanentize

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

Believe-Nothing

Become A Patron of Iron Man Records

October 23, 2015

Iron Man Records - Vinyl 12" and 10" LPs

Support Iron Man Records creating Record Releases on Vinyl.

As a Patron we invite you to be the first to hear new releases and you will be sent special updates and news. You will have unlimited access to the Iron Man Records Sound Cloud account and you will be able to choose any T-shirt, CD, or vinyl of your choice from the Iron Man Shop.

WAV files of all new releases will be sent out using a file transfer service.

Stickers, artwork and any other limited items of interest will be offered to you first as they become available. You will also get free tickets to special events.

You may also be first to get an invite to be driven round the M25 for 25 hours on the weekend of Gimpo’s M25 25 hour spin. Fuel and Vehicle included but sanity is up to you.

As a patron, you will join a highly valued group, committed to supporting the future release schedule of Iron Man Records, and will enjoy a copy of everything produced on Vinyl with your support.

Your donation as a Patron will directly support our creative programme of releasing music on Vinyl and will allow us to work with and champion artists, music, ideas and creativity.

To Become a Patron of Iron Man Records go here

Thank You

Mark – Iron Man Records, 23rd October 2015

5-Seconds

Iron Man Records would like to release more music on Vinyl. You are invited to get Involved.

October 16, 2015

Iron Man Records - Vinyl 12" and 10" LPs

I want to invite you to support Iron Man Records releasing more music on Vinyl via Patreon.

A small donation of something like $1 a month could help Iron Man Records release some of the recent CD and Digital releases on Vinyl.

Here is a list of recent releases that could be made available on Vinyl with your help:

Police Bastard - Dead To The World final 1600x1600

IMB6020 POLICE BASTARD – Dead To The World – Digital Release (23rd November 2015)

M:CAD DrawingsKey ProductionGKA94675 CD 4pp GF Softpack 2 x P

IMB6021 POLICE BASTARD – Confined CD / Digital 2013

John Sinclair - Mohawk CD front

IMB6022 JOHN SINCLAIR – Mohawk CD / Digital 2014

Death To Fanatics FRONT 1600x1600px

IMB6023 DEATH TO FANATICS – Iron Man Records 1999-2014 compilation CD 2014

TC Lethbridge - Moon Equipped 1600x1600

IMB6027 T.C. Lethbridge – Moon Equipped – Digital Release (23rd November 2014)

TC Lethbridge - 2000 TC 1600x1600

IMB6028 T.C. Lethbridge – 2000 TC – Digital Release (23rd November 2014)

TC Lethbridge - Mina 1600x1600

IMB6029 T.C. Lethbridge – Mina – Digital Release (23rd November 2014)

Iron Man Records invites you to contribute to reducing the costs of producing albums on Vinyl. In exchange for your help, you will get a copy of everything the label produces, as it becomes available. Supporters will get digital files of everything, so they can also listen on portable electronic devices. You will also get all sorts of other benefits like free stuff from the iron man shop, stickers, email updates, free tickets, and whatever else I can think up as I go along.

If you like what Iron Man Records does, if you would like to encourage the label to produce new 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 a page up on Patreon here https://www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords

I think it is an interesting way to raise additional sums of money. This will help produce Vinyl in small quantities and to the highest standards. Patreon lets you make recurring monthly donations and helps to reduce the upfront costs of producing 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. 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.

Iron Man Records 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 good record to sell.

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 and social networking. There has to be an alternative. You have to make the world you want to live in.

A small donation could help Iron Man Records to release more music on Vinyl

October 5, 2015

I want to invite you to support Iron Man Records releasing more music on Vinyl via Patreon.

Police Bastard

I have been running Iron Man Records since 1996. I have never earnt anything, of any significance, from the work I have done so far, and neither have the bands. In fact the debts are what the label’s worth. It has been a true labour of love, and I like to think the music has made a lot of people happy. The label has released over 30 records by some fantastic bands and artists and continues to work hard on a daily basis. Iron Man Records wants to make all new releases from the label available on Vinyl and you are invited to help.

Iron Man Records - Vinyl 7" singles

The journey has been back-breaking, and the label has generated a mountain of debt too. Everything I earn as a Tour Manager goes into keeping Iron Man Records moving forward. I manage to ensure that records come out every year and during difficult times perhaps every two years. But 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 provide 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, in every format.

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. There’s always another way, and for Iron Man Records and the musicians, artists and writers it supports “the show must go on, by any means necessary, or until we are all eliminated”

I can handle running Iron Man Records by myself but I could use some help with releasing 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, I have been left with a problem to solve.

Iron Man Records - Vinyl 12" and 10" LPs

How can I continue to release physical records 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. From the stats, it is clear that plenty of people want to listen to the music Iron Man Records produces, but they don’t want to pay for it, they want it as cheap as possible and ideally for free. Fair enough, I can accept that.

It always makes me laugh when you hear people talking about how they wont 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 also have to plan and finance the costs of touring to promote their music all by themselves. Musicians also need to eat and have a roof over their head, and I do too.   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.

Iron Man Records - Vinyl 12" and 10" LPs

Where does Iron Man Records find itself in the current digital world?

Streaming is taking off and dominating everything, people want “access” to more music and are very choosey about what music they actually want to “buy.” The CD in my view will be around for a while yet but, if you can already access the music as a digital file online either as a download, or a stream, why buy a CD as well? I have always loved vinyl as a format and I have reached the stage now where I want to start making every release on Iron Man Records available on Vinyl, as well as via streaming, downloads and on CD. To be fair, in the UK, not many people will buy the vinyl I produce, the real market for Vinyl is in places like Germany, or Czech Republic and other places in Europe who can’t get enough of it. Vinyl provides a good incentive for any band with Vinyl for sale to go and tour. And that’s what most of the bands on the label do when given the chance.

Some years ago I was talking with a friend in Czech Republic, while on tour with Police Bastard. He was talking about the state of music and he summed it up like this. “I google new bands and their music, and listen for free. If I find a band I like, I will find out where they are playing and go and see them live. If I like the concert I will buy their album on Vinyl even though I already have it as a digital file on my computer at home. The digital files are for listening to on my phone or sending to friends, the Vinyl is for my collection and I listen to it on my record player when I’m at home.

This friend was also the same person who booked Police Bastard to play, organised the promotion of the concert, cooked the food for the band and gave us a place to have a wash and sleep after the show. People like this are what makes being in a band worthwhile, they actually care enough about the music to do something to help.

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. But if you are serious about your music, you must release it on Vinyl so the really passionate fans of your music, like our friends in Czech Republic, 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.

Iron Man Records - Vinyl 12" and 10" LPs 

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. I don’t think any of the bands are expanding their fanbase faster than the costs of producing their music on vinyl and no one wants to start putting prices up. So something has to give. Either the records are released as digital only, or the releases come out on CD first to test the market, or I have to find three times as much money upfront to release a record on Vinyl.  

This year has been a tough year, 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. Its not my fault or anything to do with the bands, the physical sales are declining because the market has a greater choice of music than ever before and what I am selling is becoming a smaller and smaller part of that market. Habits have changed and the market is increasingly choosing to access music to listen to via platforms like spotify rather than owning music via buying records to take home and play. Times are changing  and either Iron Man Records changes too or it’s game over.  

So where am I going with all this? Let me explain.  

Digital – I make every release through Iron Man Records available in a digital format and that is relatively cost effective and easy to do. From the stats at this end this is something people want, and a format that makes all the music the label has produced to date easy to access across digital platforms worldwide. As a record label that’s at least one job done that the bands don’t need to worry about themselves. I have yet to generate enough money through digital services to pay the bands any meaningful sum, but month by month the situation seems to be getting better. I remain hopeful for the future.  

CD – I have made every release through Iron Man Records available on CD right up to recent years and the boxes and boxes of unsold stock tell me that there is still a market for CDS but interest in physical CDs is steadily declining. Once I’ve sold the stock I’ve already got I doubt it will be replaced by more cds. 

Vinyl – I started out releasing records on Vinyl when I first started the label, over 18 years ago. To be honest I have still got half the stock of Vinyl I pressed all those years ago but that is probably more to do with the fact I pressed too many records in an enthusiastic, naive and hopeful state of mind.   What I am proposing to do is this. I want to start releasing records on Vinyl again but I need some help and support in reducing the front end costs of producing the Vinyl. 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, they will get a copy of everything the label produces, as it becomes available. Supporters will get digital files of everything, so they can also listen on portable electronic devices, and they 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.  

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.

Iron Man Records - Vinyl 12" and 10" LPs

I have put together a page on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/ironmanrecords which I think is an interesting way to raise additional sums of 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 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 5th October 2015.

Independent Record Labels of the Internet Era by Kristian Evans

September 19, 2015

Few people ask me questions these days. I’m probably deluded thinking anyone would actually want to know what I do for a living, and if I told them honestly they would probably think I’m mad. In truth, I like to be left to get on in peace so I don’t really care. I think the last time I faced 20 questions was a round of “German Traffic Police Roadside Mastermind,” but that’s another story. A few months ago, I spent some time on Skype talking to Kristian Evans and answered as many questions as I could, probably more than 20, on the subject of Independent Record Labels in the age of the Internet. We talked about releasing records through a label, and releasing records as a band without a label. We talked about many of the related issues of trying to release music independently and the many contradictions bands and record labels have to face up to. When the call finished I had to get back to work but Kristian put our discussion into writing as part of a larger case study. Have a read, this is the shorter version, you may find it interesting. If you want the full Case study you can download it in full at the end – Mark, Iron Man Records

Independent Record Labels of the Internet Era by Kristian Evans

This report is dedicated to both uncovering and defining the independent record labels during the era of the Internet (i.e. 1998 onwards). A quick look back in history reveals how important independent record labels have been to modern music of the era, helping to alter the perception of contemporary popular music. However over the past two decades, a number of major changes have happened in the marketplace shifting both the power balance and economy.

By utilising primary research (surveys, questionnaires and interviews), it has been concluded that despite large changes to the operations and methods of the music industry, to some degree the essence of what it means to be an indie label has remained constant. Advancements in technology have given musicians and artists more independence and control, however it would prove challenging to realistically compete with what a dedicated label could achieve.

Introduction

Independent record labels have for decades contributed greatly to the music industry; from the rock ’n roll revolution during the 1950s to the development of other genres such as grunge, alternative rock and countless others. [Cosper, A.2012] Some of the most notable companies to date include Rough Trade, Pinnacle, Mute, Factory and 4AD. Rough Trade and Pinnacle alone stood for almost 30% of the music market during their peak; and throughout the 1980s, independent labels would continuously compete with the majors in the top 20 album charts. [King, R., 2012]

Background

Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 hit the music industry like a comet. Over the past twenty six years the world has seen a dramatic change in how we consume, distribute, discover and create music; or any form of media for that matter. [World Wide Web Foundation 2015] The introduction of the Internet resulted in a bleak outlook for the music industry. The introduction of digital audio files such as mp3 in 1995 caused hard-copy sales to plummet and the industry to suffer financially. [Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, 2015]. Illegal file-sharing websites such as Napster and Mp3.com would wreak havoc until their shutdown in 2001.

It was only then that record labels started to integrate into the digital domain. [Cosper, A.2012] [The Napster Controversy, 2015][Kusek, D., 2008.] Record labels (independent or not) seemed unable to keep up with the constant changes that technology brought us. Illegal file-sharing exploded, services such as Piratebay emerged, devastating physical sales. It wasn’t until 2013 that the music had actually seen any form of market growth since 1999. [Neumeister. L., 2015][Admin.,, 2013] [uSwitch., 2015] [Batterbee, A., 2008, p. 82, 83].

With fewer major record labels today, as a result of companies such as EMI being absorbed into Sony and UMG; there has been a reduction in the amount of current market competition. This information also highlights the struggles of the modern music industry as it has attempted to adapt to the changes in technology. [The Nielsen Company & Billboards, 2011] [Pelzie, 2014]

The Nielsen Company & Billboards, 2011
The figure above demonstrates dominance of the four major record labels before EMI’s demise, and to some degree reflects how the independent section relates to them. Although times have changed, the overall picture remains the same as independents are currently a minority.

With regards to the musician’s point of view and the advancement of technology,  research indicates that internet based technology and other technological advancements have resulted in more independent control than ever before, from musicians being able to produce high quality albums in their bedroom to even being able to distribute music without the need for a label, alternatively creating their own. [Reevers C., 2011] [Thomson, K., 2015][ Case, C., 2015]

Outline

So following the aforementioned changes in the marketplace, where does the independent record label stand? Interviews, questionnaires and surveys have been used to accumulate information from both the client and business end of the marketplace; this will provide the most accurate and unbiased results.

Methods

As previously mentioned, first hand research has been conducted in three fashions. The first being a survey (created via SurveyMonkey), aimed towards the consumer and artists, to determine their overall knowledge about the industry, and also how they have adapted to it. [SurveyMonkey, 2015]
The questionnaire was created as an alternative to the interview. The questions were aimed at the recording labels, and aim to uncover how the businesses are coping.

If the label contacted preferred telephone, a time was agreed to have a recorded interview, where the basis would be the questions used in the questionnaire; interviews were used to get the interviewee to elaborate more in-depth about the inner workings of the indie world.

Record labels were contacted by finding the bands’ homepage on Google, for the interest of aiming it towards the British market place, only British labels were contacted, contact was either conducted via the labels’ online contact form, e-mail or by phoning the company directly.

Social media networking was the primary way of delivering the musicians questionnaire, posting it on social groups dedicated to performing musicians and artists.  Due to the nature of the groups and the style of questionnaire, it was not limited to being answered by British based artists, but was aimed at anybody who produced a product for release.  (Copies of correspondents, questionnaires and survey results can be found in Appendix 1 – 3).

Aims

The intention with this research report, is not to prove that record labels are necessary, but rather if they are necessary, and to some degree decipher the future of record labels.

Musicians can completely bypass recording companies to release their music; some even create personal recording labels for their own release. But can this new found control replace what a recording company does for their musicians?

What do modern music services mean for the industry?

Given all this new technology, how have artists adapted to it?

Do musicians today feel confident with the tools they have been given or how does it influence their decision.

As the market developed for 14 years without any real growth, many companies must have felt the pinch.

How has the indie section adapted to the recent changes, and has it affected operations?

How do the remaining major labels relate to the indie market of today, is there any resemblance to how things were before?

Results

The overall research shows that the drive behind running independent labels hasn’t changed much since the before the Internet’s conception; fuelled by the love of DIY, releasing creative and quality records, independent from major label influence.  Although the desire to run one hasn’t changed, the entire marketplace has shifted after the introduction of the internet. Amongst other things, independents were no longer restricted by getting distribution deals in order to get music out there. But on the other side of the coin, the internet caused havoc on physical sales maiming a major source of income; albeit, a recent rise in LP sales has occurred over recent years. As a result both bands and record labels have had “to adapt or die”. [Badger, M. (Iron Man Records) (2015). Interviewed by Kristian Evans for Case Study,21:24]  [Rushton, K., 2013] [Lewis, L., 2015]

Starting an indie label is relatively easy, with a majority of musicians aware that distribution is possible without a label, more than 50% of the survey’s respondents claim they would consider creating their own label for an upcoming release. DIY in itself is not difficult, but doing it right is a different kettle of fish. Especially as there is no true definition to what is right, what is “right” depends on the surrounding parameters. The benefit of using an established record label is that they can potentially provide understanding, knowledge, experience and resources needed to help the product stand out among the masses; “working with a label that is as old as your band is suicide”.  [Badger, M. (2015). Interviewed by Kristian Evans for Case Study, 11:34]

There is some debate as to the existence of the quality filter provided by labels, it is apparent that some labels do specialise in styles, genres or similar and have fan bases that benefit all artists released on that album. With Spotify having 4 million songs that have never been played and countless more struggling due to lack of experience, knowledge or making the wrong decisions.  [Rochell, 2013] It is more important now than ever that labels keep up-to date and well informed on current events, in order to provide their artists with optimal results.

Although the introduction of streaming services has driven some money back into the industry’s economy, research reveals that it is only the labels with large amount of copyrights that really benefit, in other words the majors, in contrast iTunes is a highly regarded source due to its design and operation.  In recent years 50% of artist’s income has been from live performances; it is therefore important to spread music effectively, market strategically, to reach a wide demographic in order to raise ticket sales. This is an area where an established record label is more likely to see satisfactory results; especially in regards to knowing the market and knowing how to proceed.

D, Passman suggests that the next generation of marketing for bands will rely on direct relationships between the band and its fan base. Research shows that more than 80% of the overall respondents claimed to be comfortable using internet based technology for promotion, 72% of the overall respondents use it actively to connect with the fan base. Having personal relationships and interacting with customers and fans at a personal level can raise the overall success of tours, album releases and so forth, and is actively being used at all stages of the industry, though some of this control can be lost in major label deals. [Passman, D., 2013. 69]

With regards to the major labels, it shows that they have little influence over the independent market, and have somewhat less influence than previously in history; at least what we regard as major labels today. Since the introduction of the internet and later online music services, “new” record labels are emerging under the names such as Apple, Amazon, Youtube and other internet based major corporations; causing competition and a shift in power. In addition to this recent changes and coming changes to the internet and how it operates, such as new laws regarding VAT can make it potentially more difficult to truly be independent.

Discussion

The findings provide an up-to-date insight into how the industry currently looks, and a brief outlook on how companies are adapting to their new surroundings.  The findings in the report are of significant value as they answer all of the aims and questions posed at the beginning of the report, while additionally giving information into what the current events are. These findings also give an insight into the possible future of the industry.

The report reveals interesting facts such as the diminishing influence of the major record labels (Universal, Sony, Warner Bros) which have previously dominated the market, in favour of an increase in the popularity and trading power of major online corporations that deal in a range of commodities (Amazon, Apple, Ebay) and offer a more convenient and efficient service to those customers buying online.

Companies such as these may become the major labels of tomorrow as they regularly cause havoc in the industry; causing major changes in how the internet functions and how customers make use of the various services available.  The days of the Internet providing freedom may be limited with newly established laws and the music industry finally adapting to the monstrous invention that once made the outlook seem grave, though this seems likely to make running an indie label or any indie company more difficult, research has shown how many of these companies are quick to adapt and vigilant in keeping updated about how to deal with coming issues. 
The overall findings are important as they ascertain the importance of indie record labels in modern society, showing that they are as important as they ever have been. Despite many artists being comfortable with their new technological surroundings, and being aware of the options available, the majority still see record labels as a necessity.

All of the aims set for this assignment were successfully met, although not all answers are as comprehensive or as useful as initially thought.  The research assignment’s main weakness is the lack of responses from labels, the entire research period being dominated by lack of replies or not answering the telephone at arranged time and date. In order for the report to have more credibility and accuracy, more time would be needed to collect responses, where the student would avoid limiting the search to labels within the United Kingdom.  The questionnaire in itself requested information that would have been useful to the assignment, but some revisions would be made to it, correcting some phrasing issues and combining questions to make the overall amount less; this might help getting a higher response ratio from participating labels.

Conclusion

The assignment was an attempt to ascertain the importance and market position of indie labels after the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1998. It was also to see how companies have adapted to the recent changes and how this has changed operations and the overall definition of “indie”. To answer questions about their market position and also the clients’ view on the industry, both record labels and musicians were contacted with relevant questions to achieve comprehensive answers.

The research shows that over recent years there has been little change to the core elements of being an indie record label, but the internet has caused for drastic changes in what it means to be a record label. Now often not being required for the recording of the actual album, indie labels function as bands PR agents, providing signed artists with resources, knowledge and experience, arming them to their best ability to survive in an industry that no longer thrives on physical sales, but more live performances and strategically supplying music via the various tools available.

Although from the musicians’ or the markets’ point of view there is no immediate danger, society’s adaptation to the internet and other changes in the market place might cause a raised eyebrow.

In many ways this is an impossible question to answer as there is no set definition of indie, it is instead a combination of past actions and mind-set that have evolved over time. To some indie means a seal of approval while to others it is purely a mind-set. What is counted as indie varies much from person to person, with music from all segments of the industry receiving the tag despite its origin.

What it means to be independent also has its grey areas as even self-releasing music one is constricted to major internet based corporations for distribution, and with the new VAT laws being introduced, releasing music for free might be the only remaining way to be truly independent.

Here it is in full as a word doc Case study – Kristian Evans 2015

Iron Man Records – a Birmingham based Independent Record Label

July 15, 2015

Iron Man Records Logo for print

Iron Man Records is a Birmingham based independent record label, founded in 1996. The label has released recordings by: P.A.I.N, Police Bastard, John Sinclair, Nightingales, Steve Fly, TC Lethbridge, Dufus, Sensa Yuma, and Last Under The Sun, amongst others.

“Music has no flag, no government, no police. Nobody owns it, nobody controls it. Music crosses all borders of geography, language, culture and belief. Music brings people together…..” – Reasons Why

Iron Man Records is run by a Music Promoter and Tour Manager – Mark Badger and a Script writer and Lawyer with a music background – Kevan Tidy.

Mark Badger founded Birmingham Music Network, in 2000.  Since 1994, Mark has organised more than 1000 gigs around Birmingham as Badger Promotions. Additionally, Mark Badger is an active member of two Birmingham based bands: Last Under The Sun and Police Bastard.

Before joining Iron Man Records, Kevan Tidy was a musician and a songwriter. Kevan has worked as a lawyer for many years and can help aspiring inventors, film makers, writers, and musicians and has worked at all levels.

Iron Man Records offers a number of services from Releasing Music, Tour Management and Online Strategy to Legal Advice. The label works closely with several radio stations, including: Music World Radio and Radio Free Amsterdam to give good new music a chance to be heard.

Iron Man Records is about artistic freedom. The label demonstrates its approach by supporting musicians who have something to say and wish to produce music in their own time, and on their own terms.

– Magdalena Szytko, Birmingham, 2015

Iron Man Records - Advert 2015 For Web

Katy Jay Interviews Mark from Iron Man Records at Musoplex March 2010

April 1, 2010

Mark from Iron Man Records interviewed by Katy Jay, unsigned music champion from 101.8WCRfm in Wolverhampton.

Musoplex describes Mark Badger as “…..Head of one of Birmingham’s most loved and influential independent record labels…..Iron Man Records have released music from grindcore to punk and anti-folk over the last 15 years. Hear Mark’s views on bands, recording, touring and being the head of a label. The interview features footage of …..punk band Police Bastard, Anti-folk New Yorkers Dufus and Last Under the Sun.”

Mark talks about Police Bastard and Trogg, Tape Trading and life before filesharing and the Internet, touring with a band on a budget you can stick under a glass, the idea of giving bands a small amount of help at a critical time, Robert Lloyd and The Nightingales, how the label got involved with Seth and Dufus and he talks about his own band called Last Under The Sun.

Here’s a direct link: http://blip.tv/file/3407655