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Name: Adam Bernard
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Velocity Records CEO Dave Shapiro is Always With The Band
Thursday, July 14, 2011

With Abandon All Ships, MSWHITE, A Loss For Words, The Air I Breathe and Woe, Is Me on their roster, and another band just signed (although not officially announced yet), Velocity Records is gaining steam as a label in only its third year of existence. Founded by Dave Shapiro, the initial success of the label isn’t a coincidence, it’s the result of careful planning. Shapiro has been in the industry as a booker for nearly a decade and he’s used that knowledge to sidestep a lot of the hurdles many start up labels stumble on. I caught up with Shaprio to find out more about the birth of Velocity Records, including why he’d launch a label when so many are going under, and how the INS ruined his plans for one of his favorite bands.

Adam Bernard: When most people look at the music industry they consider today to be the worst time to own a record label. With that in mind, what on earth possessed you to get into the business?
Dave Shaprio: {laughs} That’s a great question. I’m also a booking agent. That's what I’ve been doing for the last seven or eight years. I represent The Devil Wears Prada, Attack! Attack!, A Day To Remember, Pierce The Veil, Silverstein, Enter Shikari, etc. I’ve been booking for a long time and that’s kind of how I got into the whole thing. From that I wanted to start a label because I wanted to get more on the creative side of things and I wanted to be more involved than just touring and every time I start some sort of new business venture in music I like it because I'm able to learn more outside of the touring world. The model we follow, you can still make money as a label, you just have to run it the right way. You have to spend appropriately, spend smart, and not overspend, and sign the right bands, bands that are gonna work hard. I think that we’ve managed to do that so far.

AB: When was Velocity Records officially born?
DS: We really started it in August of 2009, but our first record came out August 31st, 2010.

AB: Which album was that?
DS: Woe, is Me’s Numbers.

AB: Do you consider that to be the label’s first major accomplishment, or was there something else that happened in that first year that you would give that honor to?
DS: Honestly, we had a lot of really exciting accomplishments the first year. The Woe, is Me record coming out was definitely one of those. Putting out that first record was a really big deal and a really exciting time for us. Abandon All Ships was another record we put out after that. Their video debuted on Headbangers Ball, so within our first three months of having records out we already had a video on MTV. Most of our bands have been doing nothing but great touring. Woe, is Me just finished doing the sold out We Came as Romans tour and Abandon All Ships did the sold out Miss May I tour this fall.

AB: Will both bands be on Warped Tour?
DS: Woe, is Me is on the first half of Warped Tour, Abandon All Ships will be on the second half.

AB: Are they going to use the same van? Just pick it up in Indiana?
DS: {laughs} They will not, unfortunately.

AB: Doing a 180 from accomplishments, is there anything you’d consider to be your biggest mistake, or has your vast history in booking made it so you haven’t made any missteps?
DS: Well, obviously, like anything, you live and you learn. I think we definitely had a good base to start from, which allowed us to avoid some of those mistakes. I’ve been in the music industry for a long time and being that we are an imprint of Rise Records we’ve been able to take away from that, and those resources, and that's been really helpful. MSWHITE was the other record that we’ve released and we had a lot of issues because they’re an international band. They’re from Italy and a long story short, the band ended up getting deported. They were over here on the Enter Shikari tour in the fall and we had the record set up pretty well and it was felling pretty good and then they went into Canada and were not able to get back into the States. That became a giant headache and now they haven't been able to come back. On that note we really learned that we need to pay more attention to what the bands are doing, and their Visas, and help them more with that sort of thing, just kind of like oversee everything that they’re doing if we’re going to be working with a foreign artist. That was definitely a big learning experience for us because that was a big hit for us financially and emotionally. It was the second record we put out and the band wasn’t even allowed in the country after doing two weeks of dates. It was pretty rough, and that record is really incredible, I love that record. It really bums me out to this day that that record didn’t get the attention it deserved because the band wasn’t here to support it.

AB: Deportation stories aside, do you have any stories about bands that got away in terms of not being able to be signed?
DS: No. We haven’t really tried to sign a lot of bands yet, but everyone we have tried to sign we’ve successfully signed.

AB: CD sales continue to slide and digital sales seem to have hit a peak. Are people not consuming music they way they used to, or are we in a murky area were no format really reigns supreme?
DS: On the contrary, I think that people are consuming music more than ever. I think people are paying for it less than they ever have, though. I think that there is more music consumption than there ever has been, but it’s just so accessible, and it’s free, so people are not paying for it as much as they were. However, people are still paying for it. Records are selling, they’re just not selling the way that they used to. There is a business model that can work, and labels can exist, they just need to be able to spend less in order to do the numbers they’ve been doing. That way they can still earn a profit as they’re putting out these records.

AB: What are some of the other pressing issues facing Velocity Records, and labels in general, right now?
DS: I think, going back to what I was saying, labels need to really spend smart. I think they also need to start looking for alternative revenue streams. That’s another big part of it, trying to figure out, if we’re not going to sell as many records where CAN we make more money? Whether that be ringtones, whether that be licensing, it’s about finding those revenue streams. While the revenue from record sales is down there are more places that revenue can be generated. It’s about taking advantage of those and figuring out how to increase those.

AB: With that in mind, what do you think is the next step for Velocity Records in its growth as a label?
DS: I think for us it’s just about signing the right bands. I think if we can do that then we can succeed, and I think we’ve done that so far. I feel really good about the bands we have on the label. Our business model has a lot to do with the other aspect of my role, which is booking. I’m the agent for every single band we have on the label. As long as I can make sure that all the bands on the label are always on tour and on good tours, playing for people and making new fans on the road, then I think the label will grow because as the bands grow, record sales will grow, their exposure will grow, and thus the label will go. I think a large part of it is just, as the agent, really making sure I'm doing my job on that end. I think if I can do my job on that end the rest of it will fall into place.

AB: Are you hangin back in an office now, or are you going out on a lot of these tours?
DS: I’m on the road a lot, but it’s not all bands on the label, it’s also a lot of the bands that I book that aren’t on the label. I was just out on the road with A Day To Remember for a few days on that tour. I was just out on the Asking Alexandria tour for a little while because I book Chiodos and Miss May I, who are both on that tour. So I do end up on the road a lot, spending time with the bands and seeing how the shows are going and that, but I am in the office a lot, too. I kind of split my time between the road and the office.

AB: So you sleep while you drive?
DS: {laughs} I don’t sleep very often. Not very often at all. I live in LA and when I’m home I’m in the office all the time. When I’m on the road I’m working, but I love it. It’s cool. It’s a lot of fun.

AB: I’m gonna find you at Warped Tour asleep in the Velocity Records tent.
DS: I’ll be at Warped a lot. I represent fifteen of the bands on the tour this year, so I’ll be out at a lot of the dates. It’s great. It’s a lot of fun and I love it. It’s what I love to do. Booking bands is definitely how I enjoy spending my time.

Story originally ran on SubstreamMusicPress.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:30 AM  
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