A new day is dawning and Independent Labels are doing better than ever competing with the majors on several equal playing fields. The stakes are high and more and more players are entering the game. But with the decline of traditional retail and the high costs of radio, exactly how does an Independent Label not only survive, but maintain the sizzle?
It’s the middle of summer in Phoenix, Arizona, and the temperature is rising. Yvette Binns-Pitt, President and CEO of Genre Records, and her staff are working up a sweat putting the final touches on their highly anticipated upcoming release. The aptly titled “Heat”, is a 16-song compilation, with national distribution, that features an impressive collection of the baddest R&B tunes and the hottest club bangers from independent all-stars representing the entire nation.
Promising to have “something for everybody”, this summer compilation is expected to take the music industry by “desert” storm. So, I ask my self again. How does a small label make big things happen? I reached out to the source to find out how.
Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed your previous releases and have been impressed with your growth. What’s your secret?
I’m very passionate about the music and love the work I do. After downsizing, we now have one exclusive artist on the roster, DeWayne McCoy, whose single “It’s Real” is included on the compilation…I keep a small staff and owe it all to my dream team Duane Pitt, Arthur Mitchell, Kevin Briscoe, Mel Brown, Lisa Webster, and Skyy Walker.
What is your process for finding new music?
Well, the music business has changed. Music is submitted on a daily basis for us to review. But, I’m always listening. Every time I find something I like, I have a listening party. And this year, the songs that got the greatest responses were the ones chosen for the compilation.
The Heat features Raz B, of the multi-platinum selling group, B2K and his first Independent single, “Fire”. A mid-tempo infectious groove with melodic guitar licks, the song was actually co-written by Michael Winans of the legendary gospel family, the Winans.
I must say this one is definitely for the ladies. But, I wanted to find out from Raz himself, where he stood with his new independent status as he embarked on a solo career.
You’ve had an extraordinary start in this business. How does it feel to make the switch?
As an artist on my own independent label, it is awesome having my first single “Fire” debut on the BillBoard charts at #2.
That is awesome. What attracted you to this project?
I think it is a good look and a great opportunity to be working with another emerging company like Genre Records. And having “Fire” on The Heat compilation, only makes sense.
The Heat also features award-winning San Diego based Deep Rooted. Made up of Mr. Brady, Johaz, Brea and DJ Artistic, this hip-hop/soul band has performed with the likes of The Roots, Common, and Lupe Fiasco, just to name a few. With its perfect blend of melodies and lyrical styles reminiscent of the early nineties, their single “Celebrate” is definitely one for the party.
Also noted as one of the top unsigned bands in Southern, California, I decided to chat with the group’s DJ Artistic about their experiences.
You’ve been on the scene for nearly ten years now. What drew you to this project?
There are so many other great artists with such great material also featured on The Heat, that we are very excited and truly blessed to a part of this project.
What has been your experience working so closely with another independent label like Genre?
Well, Genre Records really cares about the artists and are doing a fantastic job marketing and promoting The Heat. From the IAP to the ringtones, they really know how to position you to take you to the next level.
With everyone’s input, a clearer picture was taking shape. But, I wanted to hear from one more artist, Mix-Tape king and radio personality, DJ Cochise of Cleveland, Ohio. Known for his “After 6 Mix” and “Old School at Noon” shows, he is also making a name for himself as a producer with his latest internet chart topping single “Big Thangz”.
You’ve done quite a bit in your career. How does it feel to be a part of The Heat?
I am honored to be working with other great independent artists that are making a splash on the music scene.
You all are doing big “thangz” with this compilation. What is different about this track?
“Big Thangz” is a hard hitting hip-hop reggae hit that features rappers, Mr. Thorobred and Willpow that is sure to please the crowd.
Just like the others, the optimism DJ Cochise has for The Heat is necessary for its success. And, it is a true testament of the times. Artists with material for all audiences coming together on their own terms on a project of this measure, is truly monumental.
DeWayne McCoy, Breathe, Trueful, Blacc Wolf Cartel and others are also featured on the compilation. The label is working radio now, and has gotten a great initial response from DJ pools and program directors across the country. Scheduled for an August 14th release date, “The Heat” will be available in a store near you and on-line at iTunes and other major retailers.
What’s next for Genre Records? According to Yvette Binns-Pitt, the company is “moving in a more positive direction” and preparing for their next couple of releases, a Genre-style Christmas Compilation CD and a Pop, Alternative Rock, and Jazz Compilation.
So, what does it take for a label to remain HOT in this ever changing business of music? A passionate team along with great artists that feverishly work together to bring the public what they want - the HEAT.
For more information about the music, the artists, or the label, you can check out www.genrerecords.com.