Welcome to the Machine
ATX record-label stable 3.0
Technological advances in the digital era have made it easier than ever to start a record label, but it's never been more difficult for one to succeed. Album sales continue to plummet, major artists like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails are beginning to forgo the system completely, and the entire music industry is experiencing a shift in emphasis toward licensing and downloading.
Locally at least, independent record labels remain the backbone of the music scene, providing structure and support, not to mention distribution and publicity, to young acts. Amazingly, most of the imprints accounted for in the Chronicle's two-part label roundup ("Sheiks of Industry," Nov. 14 & 21, 2003) are still pressing on, most notably Dialtone, Emperor Jones, Mortville, and Perverted Son, while Peek-a-Boo is the last label standing from a 1998 overview, and Antone's Records recently resurfaced with the release of Toni Price's Talk Memphis.
"I like to think I'm preserving a piece of Austin music history," states one of the survivors from the last label indexing, Super Secret Records owner and Red River stalwart Richard Lynn, who's carving in wax efforts from Tokyo Nights, Manikin, the Ape-Shits, and Faceless Werewolves next year. "It may not be the most obvious or publicized stuff around, but it's about freezing a moment in time. I hope 30, 40 years from now, people rediscover these bands through these releases."
The labels profiled herein represent a new frontier within this emerging industry framework. While only time will tell how their product will be remembered, as always, the future of recorded music is the here and now.