:: Interview with Rain Without End Records, Naturmacht Production
Interview with Rain Without End Records, Naturmacht Production
I caught up with James (Rain Without End Records) and Robert (Naturmacht Productions) to talk about their labels... Thanx to them for their precious time!
Metalship : Hello James and Robert, hope you’re fine !
James : Yes, doing well. Thank you Flo !
Robert: Jepp, me too. Thanks for asking.
Metalship : Let's begin with the beginning: when did you decide to create your own labels?
Robert: For me it started in 2009, when I more and more felt the wish to create something, which is not only successful but also manages to hold up some important characteristics like honesty, fairness and if you want to call it like that: trueness. Next to that I was very much disappointed of the majority of the metal labels nowadays, how they treated their bands, the customers and how commercial they were. And then someday it popped in my head, that I could also try to make my own label, an honest one, which is fair to everybody and supports the artist in that way, that they can create without pushing, so just in peace, beautiful musical art. Basically that means: fair and simple contracts, a fair share of the gain and most importantly all the time they need to create their art. As I am myself musician, I knew myself that pressing bands into a time schedule is the stupidest thing you can actually do, if you want some excellent and individual result. Plus I wanted to make a professional label. As professional as possible in all areas like promotion, selling, producing etc.. The result is Naturmacht Prod..
Metalship : Rain Without End is also affiliates to another label named Naturmacht Production. How was born this collaboration?
James : For me it was always something I wanted to do but never really thought was possible. Robert signed my band to Naturmacht Prod. back in 2010 and over a short period of time we became friends. In 2011 I started a small webzine and began helping Robert out with some promo for his releases. He asked me to help out with Naturmacht Prod in 2012 and once we felt the label was strong enough we came up with the idea of creating a doom metal sub label which became Rain Without End Records.
Robert: Yes, it was just like that. I needed a helping hand, because the label got too big to be handled by one person. I did not want to limit the success with being the only one forever. So my first friend who came in mind who could fit and whom I trust
was James. A good choice it was indeed!
Metalship : Probably a lot of our readers don't know what exactly a label does. Maybe you can tell us a few of the things you do?
Robert: Well, basically we take the costs for the producing of the CDs and Merch and take care of all what is connected to it and then sell them. Also we do the promotion. Yet as a free service for our signed bands we design artworks and homepages and give them a place on our server for free. I also mixed and mastered some music for my bands. So our services involve all what there is around getting your music pressed on a CD and out to your fans.
Metalship : What's the general theme of the label? Are you focussing on specific genre, or a specific vibe? Or do you just want to release everything you think is cool?
James : I guess you could say that it is a little of both. We look for bands that create music we think is cool and most of the time it just happens that the style or vibe of the music fits with our personal tastes. We look for unique, honest music with feeling and a dark, melodic element to it. For Naturmacht Productions the primary focus is on various styles of black metal and for Rain Without End Records we focus more on extreme doom metal.
Robert: Yes. Yet I had no special genre in mind when I started NP. But as black metal commonly is the genre I mostly listen to, I naturally asked first black metal bands for cooperation. I still had since the beginning also pure ambient bands and also some doom bands.
Metalship : How many people work directly for your labels?
James : At this time it is just Robert and I working at the labels. Or label I guess you could say since we consider it as one big label. Robert handles most of the distro, production end of things while I tend to handle more of the promotion and press type of stuff. Also it should be said that Robert tends to work more with the black metal bands while I work mostly with the doom metal bands.
Metalship : How do you choose the bands that you sign?
James : In the beginning we would search the web for cool new bands. Nowadays the bands contact us or are referred to us by bands on our roster and our friends. I can’t speak for Robert but I haven’t actively searched for a new band in a very long time. Every signing is discussed at great length between Robert and me and if we are both in agreement we begin discussions with the band. We only work with bands that share our values and vision. These are bands and artists that make music because they love music. Not because they want to become rich and famous.
Robert: Not much to add here, just that in the beginning, when nobody knows you, you have to ask unsigned bands, if they want to work with you. But at the latest after one year or so I got enough request from the bands, that there was no need to actively search for new bands. Yet it happens from time to time, that I just discover something great on my own in the internet and if I see they are unsigned and we got some room left I ask them also today.
Metalship : There are a lot of unsigned bands that are looking for an opportunity to get signed but also unsigned bands that prefer to do things themselves and stay "independent". When a band joins a label, what advantages does this give them over being independent? And do you think there are any serious drawbacks?
James : The Internet and websites like Bandcamp have made it a lot easier for bands to stay independent. It allows them to distribute their music to a wider audience while keeping costs down. Working independently can be a beautiful thing but a lot of bands don’t have the money or the resources to produce, promote and distribute their music properly. Especially in the underground metal scene. That’s where working with a label has its advantages. Labels provide the financial support and have the resources needed to do things like create high quality physical releases, provide professional promotion and distribute the releases to a much broader audience. Sometimes just the fact that a band is on a reputable label alongside other great bands can create interest and offer exposure. Like bands, labels also have loyal customers and supporters that follow them closely and trust
Robert: Indeed! Plus we can use our experience and knowledge to make a professional release itself. It’s not just sending music to a pressing company, you know, it starts with the sizes for the artwork, the dpi and so on. And we got a network of painters and designers and most importantly and as James said already quite a bunch of loyal customers. So if you as band/musician have no time, money and idea how to do those things mentioned above, it is better to check for a good, honest and professional label. And we also support btw the independent artists with distributing their CDs & merch under fair conditions.
Drawbacks stand and fall with the quality of the label. You can have bad luck and sign at an unprofessional and somewhat criminal label which rips you off or fucks up the pressing or is shit with the customer service. And I learned that quite much bands got bad experience. But I also must say that there are also bands out there which fuck the things up themselves; we got some of these too in the past. We are all humans you know, and everywhere you can find also shit ones.
Metalship : What are the differents steps before releasing an album?
Robert: Well, all starts with the music itself. When the artist is ready and satisfied, he sends us his music. Yet it often happens that our cooperation starts already while the writing process or the recording. We both love to get involved with the creating process of the albums. And we and the bands start often already then to talk and plan about the release. Step two after we got the music is to find a good cover and then make the artwork. Often the bands got their own friends and connections or even skills to create those, but if not we take care of it and surely involve the band, as its their artistic creation, so they first of all must be happy with the artwork. If we got those two things, music and artwork, we set a release date and we start the promotion, than release the cover and if available the tracklist. Then behind the scenes we will contact the pressing plant, set the order and send all the stuff to them. After that comes yet only the preorder circa one month before the release date. Once this date arrived we send out the preorders and fulfill upcoming orders.
Metalship : How do you promote your new albums? Is the promotion campaign the same for each new album or do you promote every CD in a different way?
James : We promote all of our new releases the same way. We are getting away from sending physical CDs to our media partners and are focusing more and more of digital press kits a.k.a. EPK’s. This keeps costs down while maximizing the amount of press kits we can send out to our media partners. So for this we have been using Haulix Online Promotion Software (www.haulix.com
). This has been great because we can keep track of various stats like who has viewed and downloaded our press kits. We generally don’t pay for advertising. Maybe this will change one day but for now we are content with the way things are.
Robert: Additionally we load up songs to SoundCoud and YouTube and spread information at the online communities.
Metalship : What's next for both labels?
James : Right now we are waiting to announce a couple of recent signings to each label. After this we will stop accepting new bands for a time and turn our attention to providing the best possible products and services to the bands currently on our rosters.
Metalship : What are your signed bands that you’re most proud of?
James : All of them ! Seriously. Every band on each label is there for a reason. Every band is special to us for different reasons and we are proud to work with everything single one of them.
Metalship : What are the bands that you dream to sign?
James : For me it would be Saturnus
but that is not likely to happen any time soon. Also if Thorns of the Carrion ever decided to reunite I’d be extremely interested in working with them. Again, not likely going to happen .
Robert: Well, Immortal
would be cool. Haha I must say I do not have any special band in mind. What I wanted is to sign a band from each area on this world and first of all from every kind of black/doom metal existing. We are pretty close to that, as we got bands from North and South America, Canada, North Europe, South Europe, Middle Europe, East Europe and Russia playing all their own way of doom, black or a mix of it. So well, I am very satisfied with the roster right now.
Metalship : What were the best sales in your catalogues?
Robert: That’s a tricky question. I want to answer it indirectly: selling numbers are not a sign of quality and depend on many things, some of them we cannot even influence. At the end every sold out album is a best sale. Sometimes it sells faster and sometimes slower and this is surely also influenced by the number of CDs you are pressing. If you have for example a very special and individual piece of art, people need time to get into it or if it is a newcomer you must yet build up the audience. It also is connected to politics and the economy and how much money people have left for buying CDs. Also luck or coincidence is a factor that the people even find out that you exist. You know, there are thousands of labels and millions of bands out there all seeking your attention and well, also your money. So if the stuff sells in some time and we sell enough to not get into minus everything is fine. It’s about the music still, the need for a certain gain of coin is an unfortunate necessity.
Metalship : After which sale count do you consider a CD as "good" from a financial point of view?
James : The sale that we break even with to cover our production costs. ;)
Metalship : What advices would you give to a band who would like to deal with you?
James : First and foremost we want to work with bands that make music for the right reasons. If you’re looking commercial success then you should look for another label. Tell us a little bit about your band and your music. Don’t just send us a link to your Facebook or Bandcamp page with no explanation. Other than that it comes down to the music. It’s always best to send us good quality streams and/or downloads instead of unfinished or low quality garbage. Don’t take it personally if we don’t want to sign your band or you don’t hear back from us (though we do try to respond in time to each request).
Metalship : It’s often said that the CD industry is in distress. You see it from the inside, what are your opinions about it?
Robert: If you want to label “change” as distress, than it’s true. I wouldn't though, because maybe you do not sell thousands of CDs anymore, but the digital sales compensate that in a way. Surely nobody says it, but selling music digitally is the best thing you can do as the costs are nearly zero. A “problem” for us is surely the big amount of labels popping up in the underground in the last years. That means much concurrence while the amount of customers, who would and can buy CDs are staying constant. Yet major labels earn lot of money with merch and the live appearances of their bands and we are ourselves one of those newcomers. And much disappear after 5 years or so. That is the hard thing in the underground or having a company commonly: you must stay put and always improve your project and manage crisis and learn from your mistakes to get stronger and stronger. And most importantly: never sell your ideals and the soul of it for money that is always the beginning of the end.
Metalship : The last words are traditionally for the interviewee. The floor is yours...
James : I just want to say thank you for the opportunity to discuss our label(s).
Robert: Yes, thank you very much. I hope we were able to give a deeper view into our labels work and our way of thinking.
added by kumelia, on July 8, 2013 for Metalship