Just as the major labels began their decade-long downward spiral, NYC’s Frenchkiss Records began growing. Today, they’re a sustainable and influential indie rock label, and in an age when seemingly home-brewed labels are often just boutique imprints for giant conglomerates, Frenchkiss Records staunchly remains a true independent.
“Frenchkiss is definitely my baby,” label owner and Les Savy Fav bassist Syd Butler told us in an interview yesterday. “I’ve had people ask to invest in it, and all I can say is ‘well, maybe we can invest in other things, but Frenchkiss – that’s mine’.”
None of this, however, means that the label is against expanding. Last year, Frenchkiss started its own publishing company. Last month, it announced it would leave the RED distribution network completely in favor of its longtime digital distributor, The Orchard. And just yesterday, Butler confirmed that Frenchkiss would start its very own label group in an effort to help “developing labels transform into developed labels.”
How To Grow Your Own Label From Home (Or The Road)
Since Syd Butler’s day job as bass player for the NYC indie rock band Les Savy Fav keeps him on the road much of the time, he conducts a good portion of his official Frenchkiss duties from a Blackberry. He started the label to release his band’s second record back in 1999, and has refused to treat either role as secondary.
“When we first started, expectations were different,” Butler says. “Back then, the bands we signed were happy to sell 500 copies of their records.” Frenchkiss has grown significantly since, and the label places its goal for new bands at about 5,000 copies. “We budget all of our records on that number, so if we can sell more than 5,000, it’s a huge success for all of us. Anything less and we know we have some work to do.”
Of course, some Frenchkiss bands do much more than that, often selling 5,000 copies in vinyl alone. Butler cites Passion Pit, who went from playing shows in front of friends at small clubs to filling 2,000 seat venues and selling more than 20,000 records in 2 weeks…