Interview with the Tricycle Founders
Julie Schuchard and Don Joslin
Performer Magazine February 2007
Performer: Tell me about why you and Don decided to start a record label, and the process involved in doing so.
Julie: Don and I both have experience working in the independent music scene. I am a music photographer, and Don is web entrepreneur, musician, and he manages his band. We share a desire to build a label that allows artists to maintain control of their music. With so many artists self-producing records, we recognize that the role of a record label is shifting. We’re responding to that shift by tailoring services based on the needs of the artist.
Performer: What have you learned along the way?
Don: It’s so important to build solid relationships with people in the music community. From band members, managers, venues, and distributors, to members of the press. Each person plays a valuable role in the industry. We really want to take the time to build the foundation, and sometimes that means starting off small and making sure everything we do is quality. We have also learned that every band has a different set of needs and goals, and we strive to address those individual needs.
Performer: What’s the philosophy behind the label? / What distinguishes Tricycle Records?
Don: It’s actually really simple: we are working with artists who want to retain the control and rights to their music, but are in need of label support in other areas. We provide our bands with services they would normally have to pay for — such as web design, graphic design, packaging, photography, distribution, PR and booking. We also add them to our catalog and sell their record through our website. We don’t involve ourselves in producing the music — rather, we allow the bands focus on crafting songs to fulfill their artistic vision, and then we pick up the record once it is mastered. We also see ourselves as a stepping stone for smaller bands seeking exposure while they are working towards larger labels.
Performer: What role does the label play in the local independent music community?
Julie: We want to play a new role in the music community by offering bands something unique. In the spirit of traditional DIY ethics, we are offering bands a media package that we implement ourselves. Everything is done in house, so it has a personal feel to it. Our role is perhaps most vital to bands that need local exposure. Our job is to get them noticed — similar to a major label — but without stripping them of their artistic rights and vision.
Performer: What are your plans and hopes for the label?
Don: Our first goal is to build a solid roster, based on quality original music, with musicians who want to participate in a collective. We want the label to have a “family” feel to it — in the sense that we have a personal relationship with our bands, and are involved in their presence locally. Second, we want to address the impact technology has had on records sales in the industry. We are concentrating our distribution plan towards online communities, and we hope to secure an online distributor within the next few months.
Performer: How do you intend on expanding its roster?
Julie: At the moment, we are concentrating on our local San Francisco music scene, largely through word-of-mouth. Working locally allows us to get to know the bands we sign. I also like to think of my job as a music photographer as “undercover work” to help find new talent. Don’s role in The Union Trade keeps him plugged into the music community as well, so we have no problem finding talent. We will also be scouting at Noise Pop and South by Southwest, so look for us there!
Performer: Will you be accepting unsolicited demos from bands looking to be signed?
Don: Absolutely. We are always happy to receive a press kit and recording. In addition, we value the performance, so we’d love an invitation to the next show.
Performer: Any fun facts you’d like to throw in?
We’d really like to host a tricycle race at some point. Does Performer Magazine have a nice set of wheels?