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INDUSTRY PROFILE - Recording Engineer Don Casale
|Stacey Singer - Publicistm, Carla Scheri - Retail, *Andrea White - Label Manager|
ATLANTIS MUSIC CONFERENCE COVERAGE
MUSIC BIZ NEWS & OPPORTUNITIES
MUSIC INDUSTRY MARKETING SHOWCASE
| Sometimes in a business career, it can be all about the relationships you develop. Perhaps that was not necessarily on Andrea White's mind during her youth. Born in Indiana, Andrea's family moved to the Atlanta area about the time she started high school, where she rarely ran with the regular crowd. I was the outcast punk rocker in high school, Andrea recalls. I was exposed to many different types of music. My dad would really surprise me sometimes by listening to my New Order tapes and really getting into them. I was surprised that he liked any of my music for that matter. Along with her love for music, Andrea had a deep passion for books, and soon landed a job working for Oxford Books in Atlanta, which at the time was the largest book store in the Southeast. She worked there for nearly six years as a buyer and manager for different departments, but during that timeframe, she never lost her interest in music. Back in high school, I hung out with people who played in bands and we all stayed friends afterwards. It turned out book store people were somewhat odd and quirky with a mix of musicians and literary students. So most of the time I was going out to clubs, seeing bands and meeting people.
Along with her interests in the arts, Andrea had a very keen engrossment with environmental and political issues. After working at Oxford, she moved on to manage a store called The Common Pond, that was an environmental store who sold organic and recycled products. The store started a small nonprofit organization concerning environmental education for children. Because she had relationships with bands and musicians, Andrea was able to develop a music festival called Earth Jam to raise funds for various organizations. There were four of us handling everything involving the fest. One girl handled liaison with the non-profits. Two others were getting the acts and donations. My involvement was coordinating and organizing anything else. I learned how to do everything by hit or miss. Andrea and the developers of Earth Jam became friends with Emily Saliers and Amy Ray from Decatur based folk act the Indigo Girls. With their help, the first edition of Earth Jam in 1994 took place at Stone Mountain Park and included performers such as Jackson Brown, Buffalo Tom, Mary Chapin-Carpenter and of course the Indigo Girls. There was a second Earth Jam two years later that brought in acts including Luscious Jackson and Jeff Buckley. It ended up going very well although we didn't know it was going to by any means when we started it. We ended up giving hundreds of thousands of dollars away to a conglomerate of very small non profit organizations based in Georgia. It was highly satisfying to do that.
Before working with Earth Jam, Andrea's only real brush with the music business was to help her musician friends with basic street team duties such as making up and posting flyers, and working to get people to come out to clubs. Her friendship with Amy Ray dated back to when the Indigo Girls played three nights a week at the Little Five Points Pub in the days before they were offered their label deal. It was a huge social event and I went at least once or twice a week. I met a ton of people that way and my roommate at the time ended up being (Indigo Girls) first road manager, which was interesting because none of us knew what we were doing again. Eventually, the Indigo Girls signed with Epic Records and became a highly respected and well-known act. Amy wanted to put some of the money she made with the group back into the community, so soon after getting signed, she started an independent record label called Daemon Records. There were so many great musicians that (Amy Ray) thought she wanted to do what she could to help them. She did this for a couple of years, and in that timeframe she was touring so much and not around that it was hard for her to keep up with the label. She had a couple of people who were supposed to be taking care of things and it wasn't working out very well. She needed someone to come in and manage everything and know everything that was going on so she could make one phone call to one person to make sure everything was doing fine. Amy asked Andrea to come on board as Daemon's label president in 1998. She felt that Andrea was qualified, not just because of her previous work managing the book store or putting on the Earth Jam concerts, but because they shared common political and environmental ideals. I don't know any other label that is like us in that aspect. With every thing we do we have to think about how our beliefs fit in, from how we advertise and how we make our records to who we sign. Sometimes it can make things tougher because things will come across the desk that would have been good exposure for the label or artist. When it comes right down to it, if the artist really wants to do something that may be against our principles, then they can make that decision and we let them do it. But there have been certain situations like giant sponsorships from companies that we aren't in line with come in and we just don't do it. So that may hurt us sometimes but I also think that we are a label that has been very consistent, and as a result, I think that we have a lot of admiration for us out there.
As she did in the past, whatever Andrea did not know about the music industry that was required knowledge at Daemon, she often learned by just doing it. Amy Ray taught Andrea a lot about the business, and she learned from the publicist and retail person who was at the label since the start. Andrea helped instill the main ideals of developing a fan base through live performances into all of their label acts. Very importantly for the label, she was part of the community that the staff members, the bands and artists on the label, and their loyal fan bases have developed. It's beyond the music here. We have people who are very very much music lovers, and they go to our web site and see everything that we post about our opinions on what we feel strongly about. They like the music that we pick out and they tend to buy everything, but they also get a bit of an education while they are doing that. Without this loyal base that we have, it would have been much tougher for Daemon. This philosophy kept the label going through the often tumultuous times in the music industry. Daemon is highly regarded as a source for top notch indie music from bands and musicians including Athens Boys Choir, Moto Litas, Utah Phillips, and New Mongrels, as well as being the home for solo recordings by Amy Ray. Daemon also has more concern for the people rather than for the business, which has a positive effect on the label's success. They have rented clubs out on a Saturday afternoon so under age kids can come see bands in a real club environment, creating a show that may just break even for the label, but exposes potential fans to a plethora of new music. They do a number of benefit concerts to help the causes that they hold dear, and have released some benefit compilation CDs as well. I think everything we do here does actually help us survive. We do give a lot of money away, we do try to help people's careers, we do have a lot of great music and we are all interested in the same goals. We are not a place where everything is about the money and putting out the next big single. Here we are not compromising anything and are trying to better something or someone. If we make money, we give it away, or sign someone else to try to help them out.
Daemon did not do as many benefits this past year, mainly because they released more CDs than normal trying to help out the indie musicians. There are a couple upcoming benefits slated for later this year including one for a small local radio station. From the beginning, Andrea made friendships with bands and musicians through her love of music and interaction with those who created it. It's no shock then that her favorite aspect of what she does at Daemon Records is her interaction with the people involved. I love working with Amy and the people on the label, and all the artists are great. Of course you can have occasional frustrations with them, but mostly they are really wonderful people. I love doing the benefits, too, and it is really great to get these musicians together and then at the end of the night we give a check to an organization that really needs it and is doing good work.
Andrea White's advice for musicians: Touring seems to be the most important aspect. There is so much music out there right now that your music can get lost if you don't get out and play and network. You should start in your regional area and keep going back to the same places so you can build your fan bases there. Don't tour the world and then never go back anywhere. Think small and get bigger. If you do want to get signed to a major label, they are going to look at how big your fan base is and how many CDs you sold out of the back of your car. And if you don't get signed you can still make a living by playing clubs and selling CDs.:->
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