This is a big, important post. If you can read the whole thing, it’ll make more sense.
First, I finally have some official news about the next HAVE A NICE LIFE record, The Unnatural World.
The official release date is February 4th. In order to make sure we can meet demand, get orders out on time, and not create an artificial vinyl bubble (as happened with DC), we’ve decided to co-release the record with The Flenser, a great label out in California.
What this means, logistically:
– It’s on vinyl.
– The record will be available through our store, as well as through The Flenser, and through their distributor (Revolver).
– The record will be available in various online channels (Spotify, our Bandcamp, etc) in high-resolution.
– It’ll be cheaper than we could have printed it ourselves.
– Pre-orders will all be handled by The Flenser, to ensure they get out to people on time.
We are really happy about this. It’s the perfect balance between keeping everything in-house, but making sure we don’t take on more than we can chew and fucking over the people who support us.
A few words about the future of enemies list.
It’s been about 10 years now – more, maybe, because I’m horrible with time – since Tim and I started ENEMIES LIST.
In that time we’ve released 19 records. The new HAVE A NICE LIFE album will be number 20.
In that time we’ve had tens of thousands if people buy, steal, download, and listen to our music. I’ve gotten thousands of emails saying thanks, saying where’s my record, saying fuck you, saying our music saved a life.
It’s all been incredible, and complicated, and insanely difficult, and probably the best period of my life (when it wasn’t the worst). I’ve done more, and learned more, than I thought possible. And not all of our music sucked (for reference: listen to one of the first songs I ever recorded on my computer)
When I started working in the label, I was 23. I’m now 33, and my life looks nothing like it did. I live with my wife. I run my own business. I wake up early, I feed the dogs, I sit down at my desk and work. I try to balance everything. I try to make it all work to the level I want it to work. And it’s incredibly hard.
Over the last 2 or 3 years, a few things have become obvious to me:
– The label is officially too big to operate as it has. Of course, big is relative; we’re still smaller than 99% of labels out there! including the small ones. But Everything we are is predicated on being small – small runs, small budget, small (meaning 1) staff.
All that’s fine, and great, and beautiful – except when orders can’t get out on time, or we lose track of someone’s payment, or I don’t restock shirts for 6 months because I’m too busy with all that wife/house/business stuff.
A tiny, tiny percentage – maybe 3%? – get fucked up. But that’s enough to stress me out, and enough to be shitty for the people who are just trying to support the label I run. It sucks, and it’s frustrating. And it’s on me.
– I do not have the time, or the willpower, to operate the label appropriately under current circumstances. When I became full time self-employed, I expected to have more time and energy to put towards the label. Instead (and most self employed people will see this coming), it was the polar opposite.
I have less time, and less will power. That energy gets spent waking up every day and thinking “how the fuck do I not go entirely broke today?” It’s spent worrying about cash and finding new clients and trying to keep my current clients happy, responding to emails at 4 in the morning and trying not to consume shitty food and be a good person and leave the house every once in a while.
That isn’t complaining. I love working for myself, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. But it sure as fuck isn’t easy, and more and more I’ve noticed the label slipping in terms of its relative importance in my life, and the commensurate amount of attention it receives. That’s bullshit, and it isn’t how I want to run the label, or my life for that matter.
Every now and then I return to the idea of a Philosophy of Life – essentially, my answer to the question of “what, exactly, do I want to do with my life?” Not what my goals are, or how much money I want to make, but what kind of life do I want? If I were going to die tomorrow, what would I do with the remaining time?
Every time I ask myself this question, music – and the label – come up. I am never more excited, more in love, more alive, than when I’m writing music. The label is the vehicle for that – my way of trying to spread something I love beyond myself. It’s important to me – the first serious thing I built (though never alone, of course).
But it isn’t the only thing, and so some choices need to be made. If I want to give the Label the attention it deserves, make it operate more efficiently, and motivate myself to work on it, then I need to get paid by it.
On the other hand, I don’t want to be paid by it. The label isn’t a business to me (if it was I’d be a shitty businessman) (which is probably true). If I bring money into the equation, then the mathematics if what we do – the kinds of projects I pursue, the kinds of records we out out our distribution methods, our payments to artists – changes completely. I don’t want to be in the record business.
That’s the impasse. There are a few other issues in there – our shipping system, where someone comes in to ship once a week is inefficient and leads to all sorts of mix ups and problems. The label space is far away from my office (a whole 15 minutes, light-years in work from-home time), and I’m often so distracted by work that I don’t realize problems exist until it’s too late.
But the crux of it is that I’ve taken it for granted, and I don’t have enough skin in the game.
So. Here’s what I’m going to do.
I’m going to create a core group of supporters of the label, and make things for that group. They’ll get:
– one new song from me a month
– free high resolution digital copies of everything we release (and have released)
– first-shot at any and all preorders
– early news, previews, etc
– the warm fuzzy feeling of supporting the label
– entry into a lottery to win a bunch of cool stuff – and a live show wherever you want (within the u.s.)
The cost is 1$ a month. If you pay 50$ for the year, you get all the above, 50 contest entries, and a limited shirt.
If I can get 400 people to do that, then I will move the label – and my office – into a new space down the hall from our current label space. And I will go back to being the one packing orders, and running the label – and treating it like a job.
If we don’t get to 400, I’ll refund your money.
That’s it. The whole thing. The entire plan.
It’s a gamble on fundamentally changing the way I relate to the label, and how the label operates. If it works, awesome. If it doesn’t, I’ll find something else to do. It just won’t be the same, and it won’t be as good.
If you’re interested, there’s a link below. Click it, share it, etc.