Thriving Indie-Label Reps: What They're Signing Now

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STONES THROW RECORDS

Eothen Alapatt • General Manager

Based in Los Angeles, Stones Throw was formed in 1996 by DJ/producer Peanut Butter Wolf (a.k.a. Chris Manak), in part to release the music he made with Charizma (who was killed at the age of 20). Charizma’s posthumous single, “My World Premiere,” launched the label, which is now home to Madlib, Aloe Blacc, Anika Invada, Quasi Motto, Jaylib, Yesterday’s New Quintet, Dam-Funk, Strong Arm Steady, F Doom, J Dilla and more. Eothen Alapatt joined the label 11 years ago and helped to develop a distribution network that spans the U.S., Europe and Asia. Alapatt is also a producer and heads up his own label, Now-Again, that focuses on reissues of American funk and soul.

HOW IS YOUR LABEL DIFFERENT
We have a pretty eclectic model with artists from all over the world and several styles and genres, from hip-hop and rap to R&B and soul.  But, ultimately, our roster is determined by DJ Peanut Butter Wolf. He has the final say on what acts we sign. We also distribute vinyl releases for many of our acts, and set up overseas licensing deals with distributors and foreign labels.

WHAT KINDS OF DEALS DO YOU OFFER
We’re creative with our artist deals. We even do “Net Profit” splits, where 50 percent of the net income goes to the artist. To do that kind of deal, though, there has to be trust between the label and the artist. And we’re 110 percent transparent in all of our financial transactions, unlike some larger labels that practice creative accounting. In fact, we have an act that has been with us for 11 years. I think that says a lot for our integrity.

DO YOU ALSO MANAGE ARTISTS
At times, we have become a surrogate manager when an act doesn’t have one. It’s not something we insist on, but someone has to perform those functions. The fact is, many artists want to simply focus on their art and need someone to take care of business.

HOW DO YOU AVOID A CONFLICT OF INTEREST
While having a label as your manager might create a conflict of interest, it doesn’t have to. I think it depends on how open your relationship is and how strong your ethics are. If everybody is honest with one another, conflicts can be avoided. After all, both the artist and label should want the same thing. Only if their goals are different will a conflict arise.

DO YOU HELP ACTS MANAGE SOCIAL MEDIA
We’ll work with artists to help them organize and utilize all their social media networks. In fact, we prefer artists who are very active online. But, sometimes an act may not have the desire or time to manage their social network. If that’s the case, we’ll manage it for them. And, we’ve had great success doing that. We helped one of our acts attract 50,000 followers in less than eight months.

DO YOUR ARTISTS HAVE TO TOUR
Live performances are critical for promotions, in every genre. We like our artists to tour as often as they can. An act that doesn’t tour will adversely affect their earning power, and we like to maintain as many income streams as possible. We will, occasionally, even offer tour support if it’s necessary.

ARE THERE ANY INDIE TRENDS YOU FORESEE
I think we’ll see more indie companies founded and headed by former major label executives, like Daniel Glass at Glassnote. They’ll take everything they’ve learned in the corporate world and apply it to the indie world. A lot of people today, including me, don’t subscribe to the major label pipe dream anymore. We know the reality of the situation. And the indie market is healthier because of it.

stonesthrow.com


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