Scene and Heard

Local musicians getting involved with indie labels

It’s no secret that the record industry is in a state of emergency; it has been in crisis-mode for several years. The industry witnessed the rapid demise of many of the major record labels like Capitol Records, leaving in its aftermath only a handful of majors still carrying the flag of perseverance. But what of this perseverance matters to the millions of bands in America looking for record deals to make their dreams come true? Not much, really.
If you were like me growing up, you thought that in order to “make it” you had to be signed to a major label, which would then record your CD, release it, promote it, promote you and your band, send you around the world on tour, buy you cars and homes, and everything would fall right into place. This is not the reality.
More and more, bands that had been promised the world soon found themselves empty handed and ditched on the side of the road with nothing to show for their time and effort but a broken contract and disillusionment. But from the smoldering ashes comes a phoenix of hope — indie labels.
Indie labels like Rdub Recordings in San Diego off of Friars Road, owned and operated by local producer/engineer Roland Lee Ware II, know what it takes to make a record, produce it, mix it, sell it, and tour on that record successfully. The 26-year-old musician has been working on his label since 2003, but really got things under way in 2007. He has worked with a lot of artists from North County and San Diego including bands like Plane Without a Pilot (from Clairemont and Oceanside) and The Plastic Revolution, getting them up and going with a record and exposure. Plane Without a Pilot recently recorded a music video and they’ve also been featured on 91X, all since signing to Rdub Recordings.
Ware’s experience stems from years of playing in successful bands like Larger Than Life, which at one time shared the same management as Justin Timberlake, was one of the first MySpace bands on the Warped Tour in 2005, was featured on MTV, and had sold more than 20,000 records before the band’s demise. He currently fronts the band Gunpowder Sunset and moonlights as a bass player in Parker Theory.
Ware now focuses primarily on his label, working hard at getting the bands he has signed turned into successful artists. “A lot of bands think they need to spend a lot of money to make a good record but they really don’t; they just need good vocals, good drum tones, etc.,” Ware said. “It’s about having a good melody, good beats, and well-structured songs. And they need someone who has the vision and talent on the boards to direct their sound. That’s where I come in.”
His philosophy on landing a major record deal? Mixed: “Instead of relying on the chance that the right things are going to happen and you’re going to be in the right place at the right time, you need to make opportunities for yourself,” Ware said.
“Make your own record and sell it yourself; the more records you sell the more the major labels are going to notice you and then they come to you, and you at that point can afford to be a little pickier in what deal you sign since you’ve already established yourself. That’s the way we’ve been making things happen.”
More and more, Ware said he has found that there is a very real need for what he is offering local musicians that major labels can’t. There is more money to be made in producing and releasing your own record on an indie label than through a major label and there is more creative control. Ware’s fees are based on what services he offers the bands, but for the most part, he pays for the majority of his time and resources and recoups his investment only when his bands get signed to major deals where he then receives a percentage of their profits. “I don’t charge the bands a lot of money; it’s more of an investment that I hope will pay out when the band gets signed to a major, then I’ll get a portion of their sales,” Ware said.
The relationship between his label and the bands he has signed is strong because of his personal investment in each of them. Probably one of the best values Ware offers upcoming musicians are the additional steps he takes in organizing the bands from a business aspect, making sure all of their merch sales are recorded and accounted for; he handles their invoicing, accounting, and check issuing. “I just love doing what I do,” Ware said. “I’ve always been into recording music since I was really young and I have so much passion for music that this is my life. And I’ve learned so much from touring in a successful band that I use that experience and knowledge and apply it to the bands I work with now,” Ware said.
“I’m always willing to hear new music so we’re always accepting demos for consideration,” Ware said, adding that anyone interested in being considered for his label should e-mail him at, though he admits he is very selective in who he signs. For more information on Rdub Recordings, the bands on his label, or Ware himself, visit the label’s MySpace page at rdubrecordings or visit www. rdubrecordings. com.

1 comment

Jason Robertts January 23, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Rad article!

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