It’s been ten years since Lio and Kay Kanine put out their first release: a compilation of 20 undiscovered bands, most of them from Brooklyn, titled NY: The Next Wave.
Lio Kanine (then known by his real name, Lio Cerezo) had landed a job with the indie distributor Alternative Distribution Alliance not long after moving to New York City. He spent his evenings putting on club shows around the city, DJing and booking bands up to five nights a week. His girlfriend, Kay, found work as a paralegal.
“We mostly gave them away,” Lio Kanine says of that first release. “But we sold enough to break even. And from there it just grew.”
In the very same timeframe that U.S. album sales shrunk by more than 60%, Kanine Records grew from a hobby into a bonafide and sustainable record label. Some of that took a bit of re-imaging what a label can and should do.
“At the end of the day, there’s nothing you can do about that other stuff, and you’ve just got to adjust with the times,” Kanine says. That first release “Showed us that there was an interest in what was going on at the time in New York. That it was a good time to start a label.” The rest they had to figure out for themselves.