Humble and Charitable Beginnings of a Multi-Faceted Label: The indie juggernaut Fervor Records and its affiliated publishing companies evolved out of a multi-genre 1990 charity holiday album in Phoenix for the homeless. Organized and produced by David Hilker and a few friends, the project featured Hilker and some of his fellow local musicians. Southwest Holiday was released on cassette and sold over 4,500 units in six weeks—with 100% of the proceeds going to Central Arizona Shelter Services. The same crew went on to create multiple compilations including more charitable work for St. Mary’s Food Bank. From one of their first bands, onetime Star Search sensations Brian Page & the Next, they learned the ins and outs of performance royalties. “As a songwriter,” Hilker says, “I wanted to get in on that game. We opened a recording studio, started writing and producing local hip hop artists and R&B singers, and before long were licensing songs to film and TV.” Their breakthrough was having a song in the hit Jack Nicholson film As Good As It Gets. The team went on to sign with Fox Music to compose music for Fox Kids Cartoons and the Fox Family Channel.
Continued Licensing and Re-activating the Label: By the early 2000s, the publishing arm of Fervor Records was licensing to numerous hit TV shows and films. “We were operating on a non-hit model, signing artists and songs and getting them placed in royalty generating situations without worrying about radio airplay or charts,” Hilker says. Facing increasing demand for an actual product, Hilker and his staff decided to re-activate the label. The twist was doing so outside the major distributors system via international digital distribution channels they discovered while attending MIDEM in France. While building their own stable of artists, they began expanding their scope, acquiring vintage back catalogs (in all genres) of lesser-known artists dating back to the ‘20s and became hugely successful monetizing dormant copyrights. Their eclectic roster of artists and ownership of vintage material led Fervor Records to success on MTVU (launching five Fervor indie artists), placements on the official Mad Men LP soundtrack and more recently landing a dozen songs in Green Book, the 2019 Oscar winner for Best Picture.
Current Roster Highlights: Indicative of Fervor Records’ propensity for eclecticism, some of the new indie artists Fervor Records is touting are two-piece rock band Noonday Devils, male/female R&B/hip-hop duo blakk.nostalgia, Latin band Andy Gonzales Y Sus Amigos and NYC alt-rockers Moonwalker. Hilker, biz partner Jeff Freundlich and LA-based A&R Director Jacob Nathan are always on the lookout for great artists and bands that have songs that can generate placements and Spotify plays. “We’re in this for the long haul,” Hilker says. “We’re not looking to sell upstream. We’re not looking for just what’s hot today. We’re committed to investing in music forever because we know great music is always relevant.”