C//C for ITR: Entrepreneurship and Indie Labels / by Maxwell Young

Today, we pick up the conversation with Cautious Clay regarding his involvement with a young, DC record label, Proper Vibes. The traditional framework of the music industry where an artist is signed under a record label has limited artists' ability to control his/her sound and act.  Before the disruption of the internet and music streaming services, like Napster, Spotify, and SoundCloud, artists had to rely on the financing and connections of major labels to distribute their music.  As a result, artists have had to relinquish some of their artistic freedom to acquiesce to the more popular or mainstream sounds those labels try to capitalize on; however, what we've seen over the past several years is a shift in control.  Artists of all popularity have begun to cut out the intermediary record labels to start their own independent entities to distribute their art.  Not only have large independent labels, like Jay Z's Roc Nation or Top Daw Entertainment, risen to prominence, but the accessibility and innovation of the worldwide web has enabled emerging artists to form their own collectives to promote their music.  No longer is it necessary to have support from bureaucratic executives looking to take advantage of musicians, all it takes is a click of a button to make your content accessible to everyone. 

MY: You opened up for Lido right?

JK: No, no that was Keylow.  He actually lives in this building, too.  He’s a chill dude.  He runs Musx, which is a promotional company.  It’s a music app, it has a pretty big influence.  They just did a showcase with Moving Castle, which was pretty cool.

AY: It’s funny that you mentioned that.  I think in the EDM community there’s a culture of doing things on your own.  Honestly, you guys are pushing your art and product on your own.  You have Proper Vibes and this app you just mentioned, it seems like there is this big underground community of people doing things on their own.

JK: Yea, for real.  I mean really that’s the way it is.  It’s so funny because even only being a producer for a year and a half, I feel like I’ve seen the gamut of just the major leagues to doing your own thing to being an instrumentalists and not even knowing how to produce, like I’ve seen this all since my freshman year of college and it’s just been crazy.  I feel so fortunate to be at the position I’m at right now because I’ve worked with people who work at Warner, you know, but at the same time I wasn’t producing at the time.  And then you have these people who are not even linked to that who are just making it on their own and their just doing it.  They organize their own bookings, their own shows, their own publishing; everything is just them and it’s just crazy to me.  It sounds novel, but I think it’s really cool to think about.

MY: Touching on that, what has it been like working with Proper Vibes?

JK: I help organize some of the events with Proper Vibes, but Proper Vibes is nothing but family, they’re great guys.  They have just been a platform for me to have a community that can work around each other.  We kind of work together and make our own stuff.  We started off in very much a similar way, I’d say, like Moving Castle.  It’s just a really cool community for us to throw shows and events.  I mean, we are a record label, too, but I’d say we are more so kind of an events entity right now.

AY: How receptive has the community been towards your events?  Are you getting nice turnouts and growing a fan base as well?

JK:  Oh yea, we are definitely growing a fan base.  We’re going in a positive direction, which I think is great.  I think there have been some logistical issues over the past year that we’re working out, but it has been nothing but positive.