Reviewing The Scene: Chris Hansen

Tucked away in the beautiful sunshine and beaches of California is the headquarters of No Sleep Records. As many of you know, the indie label has brought you bands such as The Wonder Years, La Dispute, Touche Amore and Balance and Composure. Their popularity is quickly spreading, thanks to the hard work of label owner Chris Hansen and his employees. By rallying under the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead" mantra, Chris and Co. have been making a name for themselves. They have shown us that the industry side of music is not all about the profit. No Sleep has shown that there are people who do their job for their passion for the music. Instead of a regular interview, we at Review Rinse Repeat are honored to present to you a guest article from the mastermind of No Sleep, Chris Hansen. In this article, Chris discuses many topics, including how illegal downloading/file sharing affects a small label.

I was asked by Jerry of Review Rinse Repeat to write a guest article on what I think running a smaller indie label is about, and the various factors that are involved. Please ignore and forgive any grammar or spelling issues, as well. I am a college dropout (must be why I’m in this industry). Well this is my story, and I am sticking to it...

One thing I have always loved, and could count on was music. It is something that is always there for you, and is your best friend, girlfriend, whatever. Music won't lie to you, cheat on you.. Although music could make you want to go deaf at times I guess, so it still has its evils. Anyways, back onto topic. I love music and have always wanted to start a label to release music I love from artists I feel people should support and enjoy (maybe also because I can't play an instrument if my life depended on it.) So that is why I got into this industry, and why I put my everything into No Sleep and dedicate every hour to it and my ever-growing family of about 90 dudes and 2 girls. Running a label ―these days especially is a very tiring, time consuming and even gruesome task, but you do it for the love of music, and for the love of your bands.

These days, there are definitely many challenges for bands/labels to survive and to be able to keep doing what they love. One of the main things we all face is the lack of support most kids give these days, which is definitely evident in illegal downloading instead of buying CDs/Vinyl at shows, in stores, etc. I feel most kids don't realize what this is doing, but honestly it definitely makes it hard for the bands they love to keep touring, makes it hard for the labels you love to keep releasing quality music. Look I understand the reason you do it, you’re broke and want free stuff, but well guess what? The bands you love are broke and can't afford to eat most of the time they are on tour. With the same theory, the labels you look to for quality music have a harder time to release what they love, or to keep releasing music in general. Small labels/bands pretty much do it because its what we love to do/want to do.

Bottom line is this is a very time consuming/money hole of an industry, so every penny that the bands/labels can get means something in the end and means more quality releases. Again I understand the appeal to getting things for free, but just remember that what you are getting is something the band put a lot of work into, and it’s the bands job at the end of the day. On the flip side, file sharing/downloading can help bands to earn new fans, etc. as they might download something they are hearing about and then fall in love with it. So all we ―small bands, labels a like― ask is "Hey, if you're going to steal our music, if you enjoy it buy it on iTunes, online, or come to a show and pick it up and some merch."

Choosing the perfect artists for the family is something I have always strived on accomplishing. Not only have I wanted to fill the family with people capable of writing awesome music, but I also wanted to make sure I surround the label, the family and myself, with amazing people and I definitely think I have accomplished all of that. Having a group of artists you can call your friends, people you truly love and respect makes all of the work worth it, it makes it less of a "job" and more of a hobby. I just want to make sure that when I sign a band and welcome them into the family that one not only are they able to write music, but that they are genuine people and do what they are doing because they love it. That's very important to me, as that's why I am doing this, so I need my bands to be the same way.

Sadly with the lack of support a lot of bands/small labels receive, it's getting harder and harder to keep doing what we all love. It would be awesome to be able to do what the labels I grew up supporting, like one big example would be putting out releases from bands that don't tour, but with the way things are these days you just can't take risks on projects like that since the majority of this scenes income for bands and labels to survive is from shows.

I do No Sleep because I love music, and because I want to help my family grow and to do what they love. I want to be able to see a band grow, see them turn into something; see them get fans, etc. At the end of the day I want everyone to do amazing in their own way, however that may be. Running a small label is something you do because you enjoy it like I said, this isn’t a cash cow industry by any means, rarely do you actually see a profit on a release at our level and when you do it’s awesome. To keep the lights on and to make sure everything is paid on time, employees are happy, etc, you definitely rely on your webstore, whether it be merch sales, or the actual releases. Every penny counts and helps to stay alive. At the end of the day, when my bands grow to whatever size it may be, it makes me proud. With every day that passes in this industry it gets harder and harder to survive, and to be honest who knows how long we will all be able to. My goal is to keep this up as long as we can and have fun along the way, and to hopefully help bring some good back to this dying scene.

In closing I can promise you that No Sleep will keep releasing what we love and will continue to do so until we just can't anymore. Be a part of the good music revival that is going on. If you enjoy our bands, our releases, or even our friend’s bands, labels then visit their web stores, hit up iTunes, or just attend a show. I personally could not be prouder of my family, the current and extended. 

Did You Know?

Batman
Batman says... "Modest Mouse has a song titled 'Bukowski' which is about anger at God."

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