My first injection of Extreme Metal Music was back in 1985, i was 13 and a Metallica – “Ride The Lighning” cassette crossed my paths (Yes back then that was considered Extreme). I remember being at home alone with my crappy old “Ghetto Blaster” (that ‘ate tapes’) and fascinated at the cool “Electric Chair” cover art, it was at that moment within the first 30 seconds of “Fight Fire with fire” that my life would no doubt be set down a new path and Extreme Death Metal Music would be my fate. I remember being blown-away and scared shitless at the same time. The shear aggression and speed of the music was unlike anything i had ever heard (remember this was 1984 and i was 13 and Def Leppard was about the heaviest i had ever heard) and it was that very song that forever changed my life (thanx James) and led me to investigate this style of music even more. Bands like Slayer, Venom, Possessed and Death became the metal music that “Got me thru the day”
Well, the year is now 2008 and even though Metallica’s “Ride The Lighning” is still one of my top 20 favorite albums of all time, Extreme Metal Music is like drugs, one is too many and a thousand is not enough. The need for faster, heavier, more brutal and intense music dosages becomes the addiction. In today’s world of Extreme Metal Music – Metallica would probably be considered choir boys.
I guess it’s time to talk about what this article is actually about… running an underground Death Metal Record Label. First off, running an underground death metal label like this usually means running it from your parents basement, or if your a grown man who just can’t seem to grow up, your running it from your own basement and are constantly having to remind your wife, “would you rather me be here at home with you wasting all our money, or at the strip clubs wasting all our money). Truth be told probably 90% of Death Metal Record Labels that exist do it for the pure love of the music and do it on top of working 40 – 50 hours a week doing something that actually makes money, and to those who continue to do it while investing their own money and risking their marriages and relationships i raise my Corona and “Cheers You!”… But that’s just what Extreme Metal does to people, there is a devotion to it, there is just this undeniable force that encapsulates you… it’s likebeing in a gang… a really large gang!
I work for a small record label CDN Records, a basement run 2 person operation managing over 2000 Extreme titles in the genres of Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, Melodic Death metal, Grindcore, Goregrind, Black Metal, Thrash Metal and more. The other person involved again and actually the one who started the label, a grown man like myself in his late 30’s obsessed with metal music in it’s most extreme form and probably the biggest “Death” (the band) fan you will ever meet. He started the label over 15 years ago, originally called “Civilian Death Network”, but after 9-11 it was apparent that we needed to change the name, hence (CDN Records). The label started out mostly as a “Tape Trading” network trading various Death metal bands demos with other Death Metal music fans around the world, and back then without the internet and low-cost’s of producing cd’s the cost involved could bankrupt most people. Most of us doing this tape trading stuff usually spent every last extra penny we had, we begged borrowed and stole just so we could pay for postage.But with the advent of the internet and the ability to manufacture “CD’s” cheap the label was able to evolve into a full-blown record label, signing and releasingbands.
Currently we have over 15 of our own titles, and what we do is trade our titles with other Extreme Labels around the world which increases our distro catalogue. It’s a great system, and its probably the only form a music in the world (that i know of) that operates like this… again reminding me of the bond and devotion to Extreme Music us “Metalheads” have. It’s like there is no competition between all Underground metal labels, we work together to create an even larger network. Its and even better deal for alot of the bands in the Death Metal, Extreme Music genre. We have taken bands who would never have been able to get their music on a cd let alone shipped out and into the hands of metalheads around the world… and that’s a great feeling and what fuels us to keep going.
Although, we first do this for the love of Death Metal music, we definitely work very hard at trying to get “Death Metal Music” to pay the bills. How much better could it get? promoting the music you love and making a living do it…
Tips for staring your own Death Metal Record label:
1. Find a band that you really like and has already recorded their own full-length cd (This saves you money)
2. Sign the band to a simple distribution deal, you press 1000 copies and give the band a few hundred copies (most death metal bands will jump at the chance for this)
3. Get yourself a simple web site and the ability to sell your product online.
4. Spend countless hours surfing the internet looking for other small Extreme Death Metal labels… create a long list
5. Contact all the labels you found online and ask if they do “Trades”, usually trades are based on a point system you’ll figure that out quick.
6. Most labels will trade 3-5 copies to start, trade with 100 labels you now have 300-500 titles to add to your web sites online catalogue
7. Don not take more than 10 copies of any one title… 3-5 at most
8. Promote online, Promote Online, Promote online… forums, blogs, myspace etc etc.
9. Repeat steps 1 thru 7 once you have no more of the original 1000 cd’s you pressed, of the cd traded well press the same release, if you struggled
to get other labels to take it on trade, search for a new band and try again.
10. You will be very lucky to sell more than a few thousand copies of any 1 Extreme Death metal cd, Grindcore cd or Black Metal CD (unless you happy to get lucky enough to sign the next Cannibal Corpse or Cradle of Filth) release so don’t get frustrated, the key is to
build your online catalogue with 1000’s of titles to chose from and enjoy the fact that you are now promoting and selling 100’s of Extreme Metal bands.