Interview by Louis Rastelli
From Vol. 3 No. 1
Our interview with Blair Purda from Endearing Records of Winnipeg was conducted by email.
FP: Why did you decide to start a label?
Endearing: Endearing started in 1995 to release music from our friends. I felt there were some great bands in town that people should hear and if Endearing didn’t put them out, no one would.
FP: How many people work for your label (full time, part time, etc.)?
Endearing: Heather, Jack and Shawna work full time, Blair and Ken work part time at the label and elsewhere. We’re looking to hire one or two people over the next few months.
FP: Do you have a mandate as a label?
Endearing: Our mandate has evolved over time but right now it’s to work with hard-working artists we believe in and try our best to make them full-time musicians living off their talents.
FP: Do you get flooded with demos? What’s the best way for a band or artist to get your attention?
Endearing: Yes, unfortunately we are a little slow at listening to everything and have piles of CDs in our office. The best way to get our attention is to invite us to your show when you’re coming through town, pass along something through a band on the label or do a show with one of our artists. Actually ordering a CD doesn’t hurt either, it usually tells us you’re aware and into what we do as opposed to sending a random package.
FP: Have you ever signed an amazing band just based on a demo playing in the office that everyone got excited about?
Endearing: Yes: Ciao Bella, The Caribbean, Twigs all started from demos.
FP: Have you ever been stuck with tons of CDs by a band who broke up and/or never toured? Do you set aside a percentage of sales to cushion any losses of this kind?
Endearing: It happens, we unfortunately don’t set any percentages aside but just do what we can to sell that record, license it abroad, use it for publishing, etc.
FP: Is it important for you to sign bands that are able and willing to tour?
Endearing: Right now it’s essential, if you’re not touring, there’s a very small chance we’ll sign you. We might sign a non-touring band to our sub-label, intercontinentalpopexchange but again touring is important here.
FP: Does it help the label and the bands on it when one band becomes a big seller?
FP: Have you ever benefited from an artist jumping to a major label?
Endearing: Not yet but we’ll see what happens with the Waking Eyes as they’re currently on commercial radio and on larger opening slots.
FP: Have any of your bands tried to bring their back catalogue to another label?
Endearing: Yes, we’re open to this as long as it makes sense for everyone and everyone is treated fairly for the work they put into a record.
FP: How would you describe the importance of distribution to the success of a label?
Endearing: If you don’t sell records it’s hard to have a successful label.
FP: Have you ever gotten screwed for a lot of money by a distributor?
Endearing: Not a lot of money, but yes. Occupational hazard.
FP: Have any of your distributors tried to make you stop dealing with other distributors?
FP: Are most distributors good at letting you know what stores or markets they sell your releases in?
FP: How important is college radio in playing/promoting your artists? What about small press and fanzines?
Endearing: North American campus radio play and small press can be important for some records and for others, it doesn’t seem to matter. Records with no press find a home with fans, records with great press and radio, don’t sell.
FP: Do you put out any vinyl (45 or LP)?
Endearing: We don’t do vinyl anymore as the market’s gone. There are occasional exceptions, as we brought in Julie Doiron’s last record on vinyl from her US label.
FP: Do you have any intent of selling songs or albums on itunes or other “legitimate” file-sharing network?
Endearing: Already doing so.
FP: Has file-sharing hurt sales of your bands?
Endearing: File-sharing, used stores, journalists selling promo copies, chain stores moving from CDs to DVDs, general US market conditions— all of these have hurt sales over the past few years.
FP: Do you have any issues with your bands posting free music on the internet?
Endearing: No, we do the same, although we try to limit it to a few tracks per album.
FP: Do you think that putting out DVDs, video extras on CDs or other bonus things can help keep people buying music instead of downloading it?
Endearing: We’re including videos on the upcoming Treeball/Aaron Booth IPX (intercontinentalpopexchange) CD and will be doing more of this in the future. It’s free for us to do and if bands have great videos that aren’t being played, this allows people to see them.
FP: Is there anything new coming out on your label that you are excited about?
Endearing: We’re super excited about the new Julie Doiron record as well as the new IPXs cdeps
(ipx 4: treeball/aaron booth, ipx 5: spearmint/novillero and ipx 6: my favorite/entre rios). Check out: www.endearing.com