What is the history behind Cauldron Soundwerx, how did it all start?
Well, Cauldron Soundwerx started as most things do, as a simple idea generated by my simple desire to do EVERYTHING ourselves (read “control freak”). It came to me while I was first starting to put Alice Sweet Alice’s (ASA’s) initial material out, prior to our first album “First Light”. During that time, a fairly large independent label with worldwide distribution expressed interest in signing us, and so we decided to go that route, albeit reluctantly. (I had a bad experience with a record label back in the ‘90’s and it left me wary.) Well, true to form, the label started messing with us, and I unceremoniously told them to forget it. Cauldron Soundwerx was then born as a vehicle to release Alice Sweet Alice’s albums, and it’s taken off from there.
What services do you provide for artists?
We can help bands with physical CD releases and digital distribution which basically gets their music AVAILABLE. We help them with promotion via our website, and encourage our acts to establish relationships with each other, and help promote each other. Sort of like a family arrangement. Of course, it isn’t forced, but encouraged. We also go to our friends in the industry, such as SOMOJO, and ask for their assistance in helping promote the bands in whatever way(s) they specialize. So really, we’re partners and advocates rather than being a “parental” type of entity. Due to our limited financial backing, we will only sign bands that are willing and able to pound the pavement and burn the midnight oil on their own behalf. We also ask that bands communicate with us what their needs may be, and we’ll see if we can come up with some sort of solution. We will also help book tours in that eventuality, and basically stand in our bands’ corner whenever they need us.
How does this differ from a ‘traditional’ management or promoter setup?
It is all SO stale and unpersonable in the traditional setup. There are FEES involved, and you pay them whether or not the efforts are successful, that’s “bidness”.
We are only taking on a limited amount of bands, because we want QUALITY not QUANTITY. We will only take on bands that we STRONGLY believe in and LOVE. So for us, it’s truly a labour of love – the efforts we make on bands’ behalves. We have a PERSONAL interest in seeing the bands we sign be successful, not really for the money (though of course that helps!), but because the music industry is RIFE with garbage, and filled with mediocrity generated by anybody with a computer and a keyboard and a Myspace page that think they’re going to be the next big thing. We think we have a pretty good ear for what’s good, what’s real and what’s not. It’s our objective to see that we do everything in our power to get it into people’s heads. So in all of these regards, we are different because we have a PERSONAL interest in the success of our groups.
Being that many new artists are very sceptical about management/promoters in the music industry, do you find that they like a company with a different approach?
I know I certainly would! I think, like myself, a lot of people have been hurt by somebody in the industry. At least the calibre of bands that we’re speaking with – those with a track record – most definitely have. Tons of empty promises, Cheshire smiles and “changes of plans”. It is quite dispiriting to an artist to have their hopes crushed at the last minute, just as things were seemingly going so well. That’s why, at the start, we’re up front about what we can and can’t do. We’re honest at the start, we don’t make any promises about things we can’t do, and if they still want to work with us, than we can all be happy. If not, than we’ll all be happier in the long run!
Which artists are you currently working with?
We’re working with two Swedish bands: Tapefly, who we just signed officially last month, on their sophomore release “The Lifting Of The Veil”, (physical CD out 23 June); Sol Skugga who has been with us since last fall on the promotion of her album “Gardenia”; a brand new UK group called Black Spring Rising who are currently working on their first album; and of course Alice Sweet Alice who co-founded Cauldron Soundwerx, and with whom we’ve released two albums, “First Light” and “Moloko & Ultraviolence”. We have feelers out and are in negotiation with about 5 more, and we’ll be even happier if they decide to come aboard!
Do you actively search for new artists to work with or do you wait for them to approach you?
A little bit of both, actually. As you know Kevin, we’re pretty active on your SOMOJO site, and elsewhere on the WWW, and sometimes bump into or hear something that really catches our attention. That’s what happened with Sol Skugga. Tapefly actually found Alice Sweet Alice, and we liked what we heard from them, so asked them if they wanted to “join the family.” We never wait if we hear something we like, and if there are bands out there that think they’d like to work with us, we encourage them to contact us through our website: www.cauldronsoundwerx.com, and make sure they follow the instructions on the DEMO submission page. We think that if you can at least follow directions, it’s a good bet we may be interested in working with you!!
What kind of artists are you looking for to add to your catalogue?
Our motto is, “Music That Doesn’t SUCK!”. We are not a genera specific label by any means, but there are things we certainly like more than others, and there are some we totally dislike. We’re looking for something that stands out to us, music with integrity, creativity and passion. We can tell the difference, being musicians ourselves. We can tell when somebody is trying to be something for the sake of being something or to be in a band to get a little leg.
What are the biggest obstacles you find within the music industry on a day-to-day basis for a new company?
Credibility and making contacts. Also, distribution for a small label like ours is very difficult to get, through an aggregator for instance. Aggregators won’t even look at labels with less than a certain number of signed acts. So basically for us, we are initially going to rely on Internet sales for both our physical and digital offerings; though we have pursued limited brick-and-mortar establishments on a consignment basis. You have to start somewhere! However, it seems as though since most music shopping happens on line these days, the obstacles aren’t quite as severe as they were 20 years ago.
You already work closely with some other companies in the industry. Is this something you see as vital for small companies to survive in the way the music business is changing?
It’s all about building and maintaining relationships with those that can help you, and vise versa. It is important that small grass roots businesses take an interest and help each other, and utilize each other’s specialities. Even Indy labels. One business may need something from another and vise versa, and it’s important to collectively, cooperatively boost one another. This is something that Cauldron Soundwerx has done since the beginning, and it’s something that we’ll continue to do no matter what happens down the line. We won’t forget those that have helped us along the way. It’s up to US to take the music industry back, one business and artist at a time.
Are there other companies or services that you would like to build a working relationship with?
Well, we’d certainly like to work with more promoters along the way for our bands, and we’d also like to work with music distributors. One thing we’ve also considered is contacting businesses that musicians use, like Peavey for instance who sponsor Alice Sweet Alice (members of Alice Sweet Alice have been using Peavey amps since the ‘80’s).
Although the sales of cds are constantly reported to be dropping, do you see that as a problem for the smaller independent artists who possibly never sold many anyway?
Not really, actually. And I’m actually encouraged by the reports of vinyl making a comeback! I’d actually like to see more refinement in the digital music area, like getting rid of MP3’s in favour of FLAC or something that’s actually lossless (MP3 compression does horrible things to music, even at a high bit rate such as 320kbps), which would involve support from portable media manufacturers and ultimately consumers, and also for vinyl to come back, as I feel the sound is FAR SUPERIOR to just about anything. Any audiophile will tell you the same thing. Not to mention that for vinyl — how COOL it is to hold the larger format in your hands and look at the artwork. I think that with digital, people will use that for mobile purposes, and vinyl people will use that for critical listening purposes and just pure enjoyment when they’re at home.
That’s my dream, anyway. I wouldn’t be sad if the CD disappeared.
Many people within the music industry see a strong future in music publishing and licensing of the music for films, TV and games. Is this an area where you see a big involvement in the future for Cauldron Soundwerx?
Well, an area I’ve always dreamed of is in working with small independent movie producers, either in producing film scores, soundtracks, etc. I know very little about the music publishing business, other than I’ve been a member of BMI since 1993 and have never received a red cent. I do know that I want to see not only our bands, but also all bands to get what their due from those who wish to utilize their material for commercial purposes. If that means rolling up my sleeves and getting involved somehow, if it means I can make a
difference, then COUNT ME IN!
How would you like to see Cauldron Soundwerx growing in the future?
Little by little, bit by bit. Putting out “music that doesn’t suck”, not catering to or caving to corporate guidelines and just keeping it real in general. We’d love to run a diverse, personal company, working closely with musicians and artisans that put out products with integrity that everyone can be proud of. What some people don’t realize is that once you release something into today’s world is that it just might be there forever, accessible by anyone and everyone. So make sure it counts! We just want to make sure that if we do something, we try to do it the best, or at least the best that we’re able to – learning from our mistakes and just trying to get better. We want to make Cauldron Soundwerx a name that those, whom are associated with it, are proud to say that they are.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just want to thank everyone for supporting our bands and to keep your eyes on Cauldron Soundwerx!
We have lots of great things coming down the pike. Please do us a favour and at least visit www.cauldronsoundwerx.com and have a listen to some of our bands, maybe sign up for some mailing lists , or just say hello and that you appreciate what our bands or that WE are doing. We need everyone’s help as individuals to help spread the word about what we’re doing, and about the music that we’re putting out.
Word-of-mouth is POWERFUL stuff, and cutting and pasting links to your friends is always welcome!
Everybody reading this can make a difference in this “new musical world” that organizations like SOMOJO and Cauldron Soundwerx are helping to build.
Start helping out today, and thanks!