Last month, a new metal label was born, as Los Angeles booking agent Dave Shapiro announced the formation of Velocity Records. The label, which announced their first signing yesterday (Abandon All Ships), is a partnership between Shapiro and Rise Records. Metal Insider caught up with Shapiro to talk about why booking agents are launching labels, what he looks for in a band, and why he’s going through Rise as opposed to doing it himself.
With record sales down and the country still in a recession, why did you decide to launch a record label now?
Even with record sales down and the economy in a fragile state, some of the indies are having some of their most successful and profitable years to date. People are still consuming music, probably more than ever. They just aren’t paying for it as much. If the label and artist can cut the right deal and the label can keep their overhead down there is still profitability in record labels. Plus I try to be very close with bands that I work with. It’s not just about the dollar and the business aspect of the label, but I also am really excited at the idea of being involved in these bands careers on more than just a touring front.
Are there differences between in what you look for in a band for the label and a band you book?
I only plan on signing bands to the label that I will be the agent for. With that being said I’ll really be looking for the same things here. Although I do like to book many different styles of music, I only plan on signing stuff to the label that is on the heavier side of what I book, as I think it compliments what Rise is doing better.
Other booking agents have also started labels. In what ways does it makes sense for booking agents to start labels?
In this day and age, labels have less money to spend on development. They’re relying heavily on the agent to develop their artists. Agents are a much more important part of the picture than they used to be so I think it makes a lot of sense that since agents are brining more to the table, they get more involved on all levels of the artists careers.
Why are you working with Rise, as opposed to going straight through a distributor?
Booking bands is largely my priority. It’s where my roots are and it’s where I feel I excel. The label is a creative outlet for me and it’s an exciting venture but it can’t be the thing I spend all day on everyday or booking will become very difficult. The arrangement that Rise and I have is that I can utilize their staff to work my records the way they work their own. This means I can bring acts in, book them, be involved on the label side but still have Rise running the day to day of the label which will allow me to still focus on my main job, booking.
Are there any labels out there now that you look up to?
Rise Records for sure, or I would not have done this deal with them. I think they do great work and sign great artists. The other two labels I think have always kept to their roots and have a lot of integrity are Hydrahead Records and Equal Vision Records. They always stand true to what they started as and do a great job for their artists.
Tell me about the label’s roster and upcoming release schedule.
We just announced our first signing, Abandon All Ships, from Toronto. I think the band are incredible and they’re also very good people. I’m really excited to work with them and I think they’re a great debut artist for us. The rest of the artists we’re speaking with are still things we can’t discuss yet but we hope to be announcing in the very near future.