Some artists want a bigger platform. Some people want expert marketing. Some want a producer who can help create a cohesive approach to their albums. It probably won’t surprise you that many of them want the same thing that record labels often want by signing them: a hit single.
But some work, e.g. AstrologersFor example, just want a house. Dualton Records, the Nashville-based indie label celebrates them This year marks the 20th anniversary, Kept the lights on and made a name for himself by providing just that. “The whole idea [of Dualtone] Was given [artists] A home where there isn’t too much pressure to give a massive hit আশা hopefully a hit can come in some fashion, but that’s not what it’s about, ”said Scott Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Duelton. “It’s about making a career.”
When Robinson and Dan Harrington founded the label in 2001, they began working for a subdivision of the legendary record label Arista Records. Robinson was in artist management, but as digital downloads and CD sales began to decline on the horizon, huge record labels were coming together. The result was that the kind of artists Robinson liked fell through cracks, became unsigned, or dropped out because they seemed less likely to make gold or platinum records. “But they were great artists, and they were artists who deserved to continue to create and support music.”
Dualton was born from that theory. Eventually, they will find and cultivate artists like Lumineers, Mount Joy, Langhorn Slim, Brett Denen, And Shaki’s grave. These artists get more support than direction. They come to expect transparency instead of surprise. Instead of pushing for continuous distribution projects, they have been invited to work on future albums. Dualtone’s approach may not seem particularly profitable at first glance, however, the label’s management artists were invited to a Vanderbilt MBA course in 2013 to discuss their collaborative approach to the contract and were written in Alan Kruger’s 2019 book Economics As a model of success for indie labels. Over the past two decades, this method has attracted as much attention as the legends June Carter Cash, Guy Clark, Why Robert Earl, And Chuck Berry Property
CEO and co-founder Scott Robinson, president and partner Paul Roper
Hitting single, double and triple
It is rare for Dualton to hear a great song from an artist who has no director, no self-help travel history, or a personal outlook on their careers and then tries to detach the artist from the power of that one song. There are many more factors that inform an artist’s growth potential. “We want to see Spotify Stream,” said Paul Roper, who started as an intern at Dowlaton and is now president and partner. “We want to see who is involved. How long have they been a band? How many days a year do they travel? How many tickets are they selling? How about an online engagement? And then, obviously, music has to run the whole process.
You may be surprised to learn that these jobs are often dying for someone to take a chance and then get out of their way. What DualTone does is provide support, resources and (possibly) advice to continue making music. They found Mount Joy in Spotify and realized they were unsigned despite their connection to a small but dedicated fanbase. Someone is like a folk artist Gregory Alan Isakov It is less likely to churn formulaic hits than to create intimate albums with precise format and thoughtful songs, but Rapper and Robinson knew that believing the singer’s insights was a smart long-term plan, and it was rewarded with a 2019 Grammy nomination.
“It’s like building a business,” Robinson said. “It’s not like a lottery game. Let’s build this career and build some earnings in the old fashioned way, hitting singles, doubles and triples, and if anyone goes over the fence, we’ll take five ahead.
Singles and doubles were stable in the first decade. One finally crossed the fence in 2011 when the Lumineers joined the roster. The band was made up of several major labels that were tempted by several songs that would end on their self-titled debut album, but guitarist and lead singer Wesley Schultz still remembers Roper bringing pizza and beer in their tour van.
“I think Wes really wanted to go the independent route,” Robinson said. “He wanted more freedom and more control.”
Dualton provided that freedom, and their 2012 debut sold more than 3.5 million albums.
If Dualton sounds like a genius to sign luminaires, some people thought it looked silly not to lock in their multi-record deal. But from the beginning, DualTone has managed differently than most record labels.
“Instead of proposing a traditional settlement agreement, we have decided to adopt a cooperative approach based on our own writing and a fair, transparent partnership,” Robinson said.
They won’t try to lock in contracts for longer than the artists have to be comfortable with. If the artists wanted to come back, they argued, they would come. Those deals are generally referred to as “net deals” rather than royal deals which the label claims to deposit a ton of funds at the front by attaching several strings. Dualton and their artists act as business partners. The goal is sustainability, and profits are divided on a fixed percentage basis. “Typically, in this model, if everyone is fairly disciplined and attentive, the end result is you profitable,” Robinson said.
For artists like Langhorn Slim, Angie McMahon, Or Hayes Carl, It creates an environment to focus on making a good album, sustains a career and creates the possibility to go elsewhere if the method is not suitable. All of those artists are still signed to the label. Since its debut in 2012, Luminiers has released their second and third albums on Dualton Records.
The center of the connection point
In Dualton’s early years, with a small stabilization of artists, the label focused on acquiring the rights to older albums by established artists to create their catalogs. Was one of those albums Press By June Carter Cash. Shortly after the deal, Robinson received word that Carter Cash was grateful that they were re-releasing the album and hoped that label chiefs would come to Hendersonville, Tennessee to meet with him.
At lunch, they expressed gratitude for what they had done but quickly made it clear that he had invited them there for another purpose: he wanted to record another album and hoped they would release it. He suggested that they go to the living room so that he could play some songs on the autoharp. Shortly afterwards, her husband, Johnny Cash, introduced himself to three spectators before playing with June. It was a magical moment for Robinson and his colleagues.
Carter Cash album recording finished, Wildwood flowers, But died four months before it was published in Dualton Records. Johnny Cash died a few days after his release. It will win two Grammys.
That album boosted Dualton’s credibility, but the consciousness of that living room concert continues with the label’s growing roster. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, they have published Amerikinda: Twenty years of Duelton, A collection of dualton artists and alumni covering each other’s songs. In it, the early Duelton success story adds Brett Denen Langhorn Slim’s “Life Misleading”; Hayes covers Carl Guy Clark’s “Anxiety B Gone”; And Angie McMahon added Oh Pep’s “Tea, Milk and Honey”. For fans of the label’s growing talent over the years, it’s a dream project where the best lyricists in their genre try their hand at recording songs they love to listen to.
According to Roper, the project originated from a community that grew up around music nurtured on the label. “Among all our artists and bands, as if they are naturally friends and fans and supporters and collaborators and touring companions of each other. We were fortunate that we were at the center of many connection points. ”