- 24 May 07
A new Dublin-based operation claims to be about to revolutionise the music business by adopting a non-contractual, non-A&R approach to releasing records via key internet music stores. Jackie Hayden talks to the company’s mainman Denver Thomas.
Sonikdub is a revolutionary new record label that empowers unsigned artists to independently release their music through an open source matrix, where the artist keeps all monies earned and retains copyright.
So how did this intriguing venture come about, and what does it really mean for Irish artists?
It was his own restrictive experiences as a musician in LA that prompted Denver Thomas to set up Sonikdub as a revolutionary new approach to running a record label. “The music industry up to now has been totally elitist in that a small number of people decide who can record and what they can record and when,” he says. “Contractual issues can be demoralizing for a musician who simply wants to make music and get it out to the people. I was in a band and we were signed to a $250,000 management deal but in the end I felt like a slave. There are all sorts of new artists, as well as out-of-contract artists that the major label system doesn’t want to deal with, and that’s why I believe that Sonikdub can revolutionise the music industry.”
To his credit, Thomas is not a man afraid of admitting his mistakes and he frankly confesses that his initial plans for Sonikdub did not fit the criteria required by musicians. He’s since amended his approach to suit. “We don’t sign artists to any kind of contracts. We have a very simple deal that gives bands 1,000 physical CDs for €999 including vat. We also, totally free of charge, upload one complete album or single into ten digital music stores, including iTunes in Japan, USA, Canada, and Europe, Vodafone, 3 Music, Wippet, Sonikpollen, Easy Music and Sony Connect.”
Sonikpollen, due to launch in August, is a sister operation to Sonikdub and it effectively works as a music store. “The advantage in dealing with Sonikdub is that there are no future commitments to us and the artists retain the full rights to their own recordings,” says Thomas. “We issue ISRC and UPC codes and register the releases with the PPI. The income is divided on a 70/30 split in favour of the artists, and all sales reported to the OCC and Charttrack. So all our releases are set up to register for chart returns.”
As if to prove the value of this philosophy, the company has already scored significant success in Ireland. “We had a terrific launch party at CrawDaddy which attracted 600 people. Three bands played – The Last Tycoons, The Show and Identity Parade. All three of their singles released through Sonikdub have since charted.”
The success of the gig has also inspired Thomas to commit to further gigs. The next big Sonikdub bash will be at the Village on 12 June, featuring Leann Harte, Paul Hourican, Leslie Dowdall and Mike Hanrahan.
Thomas emphasises that Sonikdub intend to deal with artists as the artists need them, and only then. “Contrast that,” he says, “to the major label approach whereby artists pay for their recordings via ther royalty earnings yet the labels still owns those recordings, often forever. At Sonikdub we have a completely musician-friendly policy. Unsigned artists find it very difficult to get their releases into branded stores, unless they have links with a record label or music publisher. But by using our open source network artists can change all that.”
When you consider that the Sonikdub slogan is “If we can’t smash down the old walls then we have to build new ones. Unsigned artists can change the system forever,” you have to admit that he just might be onto something.
For details of all Sonikdub services, including CD replication, marketing, publicity, and music videos, contact www.sonikdub.com or [email protected]