Today Billboard revealed that multi-Grammy Award-winning musician Ben Harper is launching a new label, Mad Bunny Records, which will have offices in Silverlake, California and Brooklyn, New York. The impetus for creating Mad Bunny Records is to provide a home for great music and Harper intends to populate the roster with eclectic musicians who all share the desire to stay true to their creative vision.
It has been a long-time dream of Harper’s to create his own label, but it was his recent experience as a producer that has led him to do this now. His credits as a producer illustrate Harper’s musical curiosity and include an impressive diversity: Tom Freud, Collapsible Plans (2008); Grace Woodroofe, Always Want (2010); Rickie Lee Jones, The Devil You Know (2012); Natalie Maines, Mother (2012); Mavis Staples, We Get By (2019) that Harper also wrote and sang on, garnering them the prestigious Folk Alliance Album Of The Year Award; Birdthrower, Birdthrower (2019); Christopher Paul Stelling, Best Of Luck (2020) and Hey King! (2020).
For many of these artists, Harper not only produced the music but also helped find a label to release it, using his vast network inside and knowledge of the music industry to find these gems the right home.
Creating his own imprint is a natural progression for a musician reared in a musical community where artists always helped their fellow artists. In fact Ben has been doing this his whole career – in 1999 Harper heard a tape of a young musician named Jack Johnson was blown and took him out on the road, helping launch his career.
“I did this because there was too much incredible music that wasn’t getting nearly enough attention that I feel it deserves”, Harper said. “I grew up in a music store that has been open since 1958 and it is a musical community where musicians help one another. There is no way I would be here without the help of numerous musicians and I want to carry that on.”
This sense of community is the driving force behind his vision for his label – through which he wants to create a digital community that echoes the one he grew up in. The label will provide a supportive base with a built in audience where great musicians, lacking the support or platform, can be heard. Initially this will be accomplished through online streaming and sales, sync and publishing with the aim to expand support services including PR, promotion, marketing, sync licensing, production of physical products and distribution that can be retained a la carte by musicians.
Of course this role as a new label head will be in conjunction with a busy and ever-blossoming career as a musician. In 2019 Harper released his single, “Uneven Days” on Anti Records and 2020 will see Harper releasing new music as well as performing around the world throughout the year.
To that end, to help run the label Harper has brought on music executive Elizabeth Freund of Beautiful Day Media. With over 30 years in the business, including experience working at major labels, Freund shares Harper’s vision to offer lesser-known musicians a viable platform, audience, digital-and-real community, and support services. Freund will continue to run Beautiful Day Media and sees the running of the label as a natural offshoot and an exciting way to nurture musicians and help their projects gain increased recognition and expanded audiences.
The label announcement was accompanied by the video premiere of "Dreaming" by Mad Bunny Records flagship artist Birdthrower.