By Emily Hoover | firstname.lastname@example.org
As music lovers everywhere download millions of songs per day, avoiding buying into the music industry, Saint Augustine’s Just Breathe Records, an independent, multi-genre record label, offers an escape from all things corporate. Its founders pledge to establish unity among musicans, producers and music lovers everywhere.
Just Breathe Records was shaped by John Ryan, 21; Jeremy Wilson, 25 and Jason Wins, 33. Together, they are local alternative rock band Karma For Liars. Separately, they are activists for local music.
“We’re tired of seeing bands getting taken advantage of,” Wilson, guitarist and vocalist for Karma For Liars, said. “With promoters, they are really just booking agents. There is often no promotion, no flyers, nothing. We’re entertainers. Show us a full room; allow us to introduce ourselves.”
Karma For Liars formed three years ago. They initially created Just Breathe to promote their band. “We were booking gigs and trying to work with venues on a professional level, as artists,” Ryan, bassist and producer, said. “But, because we know a lot of local bands and have a lot of friends in the community, we decided it was necessary to help the music scene. We don’t have a lot of money, but we can offer free service to bands. We hope to fund the company as we go. There are struggling artists in this town. We have strength in numbers.”
The idea of the “struggling artist” deeply concerns the band. They exist to reclaim music from large, corporate record companies, particularly in terms of likeness rights.
“You lose the ability to play your music,” Wilson added. “In this industry, you write a song and the label owns it. That is something we’re fighting against.”
The solution, they believe, is to showcase artists from any genre and, in turn, promote diversity in the community. They vow to produce music that the bands will own. So far, they have signed the southern rock band Southern Wailers, The Amazing A, an electronic artist, two DJs, Hot Grease and the Grill Master, and Drastic, a DJ and emcee. They are also collaborating with two other rock bands and hip-hop artists.
In addition to musicans, they have also found support in local volunteers, who work with photography, lighting and other stage help. However, they are always looking for others who share the same passion for art and expression.
“We’re looking to staff volunteers who can help in any way,” Ryan said. “Those who volunteer their time now will be noticed for an official job later.”
Wilson agrees, stressing the importance of allegiance among artists. “We’re trying to create a scene that everyone can belong to, like in Seattle, ” he said. “We’re building an army for the music. Use us for a project at school. We need anyone who wants to get their feet wet.”
As they welcome Flagler College students, as well as the Flagler College radio, they are also seeking sponsorship from smaller businesses. They hope to team up with The Spot Records as well. In the interim, they send acknowledgement to those who have already lent a hand. “The [Oriole’s] Nest takes care of us for label meetings,” Wins, drummer for Karma For Liars, said. “It’s obvious that the industry has to change. We hope to be a part of the evolution of music.”
Ideally, in five years, Just Breathe Records hopes to achieve a significant fanbase, in the tradition of Nothing Records, established by Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor, and Fat Wreck Chords, founded by NOFX’s Mike Burkett. Their goal is to be recognized, without compromising their independence.
In additon to completing their album they are also working on a compilation album, which will feature all of the artists signed to the company. This, they hope, will serve as a further example of unity.
“I have given up on hope and dreaming,” Ryan said. “Right now, we are all about ‘doing,’ because that is the only way we’ll truly be successful.”