As some of you may know, and some of you may not, we started a record label last year: Hard Rock Records. So far, we’ve got two bands on the label, Rosco Bandana and Flashlights (who’ve just released their first EP on Hard Rock Records; check ’em out by clicking here!) with a few more waiting in the wings for their time in the spotlight. You might’ve read the press release or visited the website, but we wanted to delve a little deeper into the label and the reasoning behind its creation. So, we sat down with James Buell, Co-Head of A&R with Blake Smith, and talked to him about Hard Rock Records.
- What was the impetus for the creation of Hard Rock Records?
Music and philanthropy have always been at the core of what we do and this felt like the natural progression for us. Hard Rock Records gives us another avenue to connect with fans and artists alike. And we’re able to find musicians who inspire us and give them the tools to pursue their dreams. Which is really the coolest part. [more]
- How did you get involved with the project? What is your role?
It’s really the brainchild of Hard Rock’s Chief Marketing Office, John Galloway. He first posed it to Blake Smith and I a few years ago at Lollapalooza. He wanted to create a way to give back to artists. So if it sounds too good to be true, it’s his vision and altruism that laid the foundation for what we’ve set out to do. He wanted to help bands who couldn’t help themselves. To give them an opportunity. It was as straight forward and simple as that.
So we bounced around different ideas, developed a business plan, and adapted as we saw fit. Our roles include a bit of everything, frankly. Since the goal is to help artists at their infancy, they typically don’t come to us with a fully formed team behind them. As we help them assemble that team moving forward, we wear the hats of manager, A&R, agent, intern…really whatever is required to get the job done.
- What’s been the greatest challenge so far with the label? What’s been the biggest surprise?
The challenges have honestly been labors of love. Every challenge has been a learning opportunity for both our bands and us as a label. I’m learning more and more each day and I think and hope our bands are too.
The biggest surprise to me has been how rewarding the entire process has been. I always thought it was a cool idea. But when you’re sitting at a video shoot at 2am and a member of one of your bands comes up and tells you that you, in some small way, helped make his parents proud of him for following his dreams…it makes you feel good about what you’re doing. And it reinvigorates you to work that much harder.
- How’s the response been from prospective bands? Have a lot of bands been sending in demos?
It’s been great. There are a lot of passionate people in the world and, though we can’t work with them all, we’re excited to hear what inspires them to make music. We’ve received an almost overwhelming number of demos and we hope to receive even more.
- What’s the goal for Hard Rock Records five years down the line?
I believe I said this in an interview when we first launched the label, but one of my favorite bands in the world is Frightened Rabbit out of Scotland. When I see them perform live in concert, I’m inspired. I see passionate, driven individuals on stage coming together to create something beautiful in a way only music makes possible. And I’m transcended, if only for a few fleeting moments.
That’s my goal. I want every band we sign to Hard Rock Records to be to someone else what Frightened Rabbit is to me. Obviously we’d love everyone we work with to go on to unbelievable levels of commercial and critical success and realize unthinkable dreams. But if they could just make someone who hears their music pause for a brief second and appreciate life a little more, I’d say we’ve done something special.