The Tip: To Label or Not to Label

Last Sunday a remarkable concert of new compositions was presented by DC-based drummer-percussionist Nasar Abadey as part of the in-motion Duke Ellington Jazz Festival (now through June 15; check  Nasar preceded his "Diamond in the Rough" suite, which displayed his first writing for strings along with his superb septet, with a symposium essentially on the evolution of how the music we call jazz is played, past, present, current and future generations.  I had the pleasure of moderating this wide-ranging discussion that featured WPFW broadcaster and musician Brother Ah (formerly known as Robert Northern, contributor to some of the greatest recordings of all-time, including the Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaborations, Thelonious Monk at Town Hall, and John Coltrane’s "Africa Brass"), writer-producer W.A. Brower (you’ve seen him for years in the Jazz Tent at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival keeping the productions orderly and concise or perhaps you read his DownBeat and other writings), and writer-poet A.B. Spellman (scroll down to see his contribution to kick-off The Independent Ear series Ain’t But a Few of Us below).  The venue was the spiffy new Atlas Performing Arts Center, part of the promising "H Street Main Street" corridor in the city’s re-developing N.E. sector.


During the soundcheck one of the musicians inquired about whether he should tag his debut recording with a label name or not.  Fact is many DIY musicians are either spacing, overlooking, or dismissing the need for a proper label name on their self-produced recordings.  This is a patent mistake!  Having a label name attached to your self-produced recordings is quite beneficial on several fronts.  First and foremost having a label name — whether it is as simple as your name or initials or something more elaborate you dream up (Dreaming of the Master Records or some-such) — labeling your recordings provides the potential consumer, researcher, or other intrepid soul an additional identifier to locate your recording from among the fields of new records that grow ever more dense with artists releasing their own product.


On my weekly radio program the listener calls I engage are generally seeking the name(s) and titles of something I’ve just played.  Being able to provide the listener with a label name is yet another identifier that could prove helpful as they search the ‘net for your record.  Above all, having a label name enables you to build catalog.  Call me old school but I believe that building catalog for your recordings is still an ultimate aim and is definitely a gateway to a potentially beneficial relationship with a distributor — whether that distribution is of the more traditional variety or some electronic vehicle.  Check our conversation below with Greg Osby on his new Inner Circle imprint for reference.  So be sure to label your recordings.  After all, you’ve got nothing to lose and much to gain by such a simple gesture and subsequent registration.

This entry was posted in The Tip. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *