[sic] Magazine

Label Focus : Make Mine Music

Since its inception in 2002, Make Mine Music has continually evolved and blossomed in tandem with the quality records it releases. A label like no other, Make Mine Music artists do not have to pander to owners or shareholders and are free of other weighty music industry shackles.

With a roster choc full of outstanding artists including Epic45, Yellow6, July Skies, Portal, Library Tapes and many more, the fiercely independent Make Mine Music has prospered, issuing over 50 records in its 6 year existence, when other imprints have gone to the wall. Founding members Jon Attwood (Yellow6) and Scott Sinfield (Portal) are on hand to tell [sic] Mag why they’re “shouting more loudly”about the label and why their model could be the way forward for other independent artists. But just how does a label without any staff or owners actually work?

[sic] Mag: What influenced you to start your own label and how have your values differed from your original aim?

Jon Attwood: The original influences were slightly different for Scott and I. He had suffered at the hands of other labels and I, although having been treated well by labels, wanted to know more about the process of releasing a record. Once we’d established we could do it, we invited some other artists we knew to join the label. Overall the aims of the label haven’t really changed – we still want to release music we think is worth hearing, with the artists getting the benefit of their hard work.

Scott Sinfield: The label has changed over the years, by necessity, as it has grown and more artists have become involved. But I think we’ve stayed true to our original aim of artists doing it for themselves, releasing their music in a fair and honest way that gives them complete artistic freedom and control over the music.

How does your label differ from others? Are there any distinguishing characteristics that give your label its own identity?

SS: Make Mine Music is, as far as I am aware, unique in working the way we do. The artists have total control over their work; they pay for the manufacturing and promotion of their releases, but in return, get 100% of any profits. We’re starting to shout more loudly now about what we do – as other labels fold or struggle to get by in the face of downloads and the economic downturn, we truly believe we’ve found a viable way forward. It’s a completely different model to that of traditional labels. We don’t have the same overheads, there are no managers’ or shareholders’ pockets to line, no staff who need to be employed and so on. I think it’s a model that we’ll see other artists adopt too. I hope so. The traditional record label model has failed and/or been corrupted.

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With so many formats now available, from digital through to various physical products, which one do you see thriving in the future?

JA: I think physical formats will be with us for a while, at least until the oil starts to run out and non- essential products get restricted (cheery!). I’m not a fan of digital music as a whole, feeling a bit cheated when I buy something from iTunes as I have nothing to show for it. I always loved vinyl which can’t be beaten for the overall package, and it is enjoying resurgence right now, although it doesn’t really suit my listening habits (in-car turntables never really caught on for some reason). I have always believed that the artwork and music go together, and some of my favourite albums are those where effort has gone into making the whole package special. This can be done with CD as well but takes a bit more effort (and cost). The main problem with vinyl from an artist/label perspective is the cost which can be prohibitive for small runs.

Illegal file-sharing is obviously the burning issue in the music industry right now. Should labels embrace or distance themselves from it?

SS:
As far as Make Mine Music and downloads go, it’s up to the individual artists what they want to do. Personally, whilst all of the Portal albums are available to legally buy as mp3 files, I also gave all of them away for free on my website once the CDs had broken even. I personally don’t like downloads at all, but there’s clearly a demand for them. I’d just like those people who illegally download to be aware of the impact that their actions might have – the artist whose music they’re downloading might not be able to afford to release music in the future because their income is being cut. For the artists on Make Mine Music, this is a direct relationship, of course. We’re not some multinational for whom music is just one arm of their business.

Personally, I’ve never made music for the money, anyway. If nobody bought Portal records, I’d still make music because I love making music and it’s a form of expression for me. I have a full-time job outside music, so I don’t depend on music to put food on the table, but at the same time, if nobody bought my music, I wouldn’t continue to release it. It has to be financially self-sufficient. I also like to think that anyone wanting to hear my music will buy the record or CD so they get the artwork that I spent so long working on, as well. The artwork is an intrinsic part of the package.

What advice would you give to budding label owners?

SS: Get on and do it. There’s arguably never been a better time and there are plenty of people out there willing to give you advice. But be prepared to work hard and lose a few nights’ sleep over it. Artists should be seizing the opportunities that the current climate is providing. Forget all about “getting signed” or whatever. The traditional record label model has failed. Get off your backside and do it yourself.

JA: There’s nothing stopping you – it’s no longer a mystery as to how you can make CDs/records so all that’s needed is the care and attention, effort, and some good music. It’s not easy, but it is rewarding. There are people happy to answer questions, loads of internet resources, and the traditional idea of getting signed to a label is fast disappearing.

Finally, in five years time, where do you see your label?

JA: Hopefully in a similar position to the one it is now – still releasing quality music for the benefit of the artists involved

SS: I’d like to think that in five years time, Make Mine Music will be going strong, releasing great music, and that it will have spawned other labels working in the same way.

Fast Facts

Year Formed: 2002
Location: United Kingdom
Website: http://www.makeminemusic.co.uk/
Roster: Epic45, Yellow6, Portal, Library Tapes, Le Chat Blanc Orchestra
Currently Promoting: ‘Dark Horses Ep’ – Piano Magic

Words: Michael Henaghan

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