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

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DANGERBIRD RECORDS

Jeff Castelaz • President

Dangerbird is a full-service music company, based in Los Angeles. Co-founded by Jeff Castelaz and Peter Walker in 2004, it is home to more than 30 bands and producers. Key Dangerbird artists include Silversun Pickups, Beady Eye, Codeine Velvet Club, One AM Radio, Fitz and the Tantrums, and the Limousines. Dangerbird’s licensing division pitches the label’s artists as well as Jack Johnson and the Brushfire Records roster, while its management arm represents Eagles of Death Metal, Jon Fratelli and producer Tony Hoffer (Phoenix, the Kooks, Beck). The label has recently signed Ben Lee and Butch Walker.

WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY’S MISSION

Our mission is to support vital culture. We do not just promote artists and music—we are advocates for them. That is more challenging than it seems. But, we’ve managed to achieve a level of success that we’re grateful for, mostly because we were lucky enough to find great artists who have something compelling to say.

WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU LOOK FOR IN ARTISTS
I like artists who write and perform songs that make me feel something. That’s the first step in the addictive process. Sometimes it’s one song, other times it’s more. By the way, more is better. Artists must also be team players and people that I like being around. I always ask myself, “Can I talk to this person every day and enjoy the interacti

on?” The fact is, our relationships with artists are more intimate than ever. As a result, it can take a little time before I’m sure our goals are aligned.

WHAT FACTORS DO YOU CONSIDER BEFORE SIGNING
Once we’re past the “getting to know you” stage, I need to know if we can take the music to market. What I mean by that is can it generate income. Additionally, I try to avoid overlap with other acts we represent. I like our roster to have some diversity. That way we get to paint an entire picture using different forms of art to create a musical culture.

DESCRIBE YOUR DEALS
We invest in an act’s brand and participate in all forms of income. But, I don’t like to use the term “360.” I think it’s misunderstood. Instead, we become partners in the act’s vision and develop its brand. With the realities of the marketplace today (i.e. less sales), we had to adjust our own realities. So, our participation and involvement can take many forms. Sometimes we’ll invest in an act’s touring business, other times it’s merchandise. We’ll do whatever we believe we need to do to reach our goals, as long as it makes financial sense.

DO YOU DEVELOP ACTS
Actually, we’re known for that. But, the truth is it wasn’t intentional. When we first started out only undeveloped acts would talk to us. Anybody with a buzz or anything going on went somewhere else. Now, finally, we’re getting a mixture. Of course, we would like to find more acts that are already developed, but we’re not going to overlook diamonds in the rough either.

YOU ALSO MANAGE ACTS—WHAT ABOUT CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
In the real world there should only be one interest. You know, whoever claims that there’s a conflict when a label manages an act has a lot to apologize for. It pollutes peoples’ minds and makes them think they’re doing something wrong. Management is one of our core businesses. We manage acts from other labels as well as our own. When an act is signed and managed by us, we don’t double dip (take a management commission on top of the label’s share). We do, however, create incredible value for our management clients. In fact, we’re looking for more.

dangerbirdrecords.com

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