Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sub Bass & Necrosis labels in 90s

Question: Hi, im currently writing an piece of work for my university on genres and their related record labels. I was wandering if youd be able to give me an insight as to why earache still exists after all these years, whereas the sub bass and necrosis sublabels no longer do. Any time youve got to give me a bit more insight would be greatly appreciated. And this honestly isnt some dig at at the labels mentioned.

Thanks, Alex From:

Answer: It's really tough to start any business venture, and to make a success of it is even harder.I don't claim to be a 'business guru' like on TV's Dragons Den show, I just call it as I see it from 20 years at the coal-face of the biz, but I firmly believe luck and timing play a larger part than many so-called experts recognise, but the old adage 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration remains remarkably spot on, I reckon.

Anyway, start-up record labels are no different, and i've personally watched many of my friends over the years try to start labels, they were dedicated people who gave it their best shot, working non-stop hours, but mostly they only last for a handful of releases, maybe 10 max, before they give up on the venture, citing losing too much money and mounting debt as the reason. Music attracts the thrill-seekers, the risk-takers, the egocentrics, and the downright insane, so the two dirtiest words, never to be uttered in polite company are: 'common-sense' and 'business-plan'. It's social death.

I would go as far as to say the actual major criterion for a successful record label is to turn up a huge-selling release within the first 10 attempts.After that, the novelty wears off with the fans and any buzz generated goes downhill quickly, also the competition is ferocious, they are fast to muscle in to grab a slice of any buzz you may have had. Its much more prudent to close the doors than soldier on regardless, but this is often impossible for reasons of vanity/ ego on behalf of the label owner(s) and unfulfilled ambitions on behalf of the acts.Ultimately the fans decide which ventures to support and which to shun, and they tell you their verdict within 10 releases. I think this applies equally to record labels founded with incentives to be a successful long term full-time business, and DIY hobby-labels doing 7inch records by their mates every few months, alike.

As for Sub Bass, & Necrosis, both those labels were formed under the Earache umbrella in the 90's, and are best described, in hindsight, as 'dalliances'.Earache remains the core label and survives to this day because of its intense focus on delivering what fans want. Sub Bass was a dalliance of mine to experiment with non-metal and techno releases.To be blunt, it was an attempt to appear hip and cutting edge, probably. No-body bought them and no-body cared, apart from John Peel, about a metal label attempting to release early examples of Jungle-rave (later called drum n bass) so the shutters were brought down right on cue, after a handful of poorly-selling releases.The final end came because of a pending lawsuit from a rival company Sub-Base (Suburban Base) who were riding high at the time, and claimed my chosen name was too similar to theirs.It seemed easier to pack it in than fight it.

Necrosis was A&R'd by Jeff and Bill of Carcass, and their chosen A&R style was to unearth the lost gems of the grindcore past, even if it was the recent past back then during the early 90's.Jeff's original band Electro Hippies had a re-issue of their "play Fast Or Die' LP, and Repulsion's forgotten about demo album 'Horrified' was re-animated and released on general sale for the first time ever by Necrosis.

These two releases were well received by fans, but the label appeared to have no future plans as it specialised in digging up past gems, not signing current bands.To rectify this, Carnage and Cadaver appeared as a split LP also, but this was'nt as well received at the time.By that stage Carcass' career began to take up most of Bill and Jeffs time and I guess the label took a back seat.It simply ran out of steam/ideas after measly four albums, but served its purpose to release the past gems, because Earache had no interest in such nostalgia.

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