When you think of music and the people behind the albums you normally only acknowledge the artists and the music they have created. Obviously the artists are at the forefront of their music, and you can't ignore the true talent that goes into what they do. However, it is interesting to take a step back and think about how music is distributed and how it was put in front of an audience that appreciates it.
I caught up with Ian Henderson, who knows all about getting music out to the public. Ian has been playing music since his teens and was involved in the first line up of The Puddle back in the 80's. He also worked as a freelance music journalist and wrote for the Southland Times and a Dunedin Fan Zine called, Garage and another named Alley Oop.
This passion for music and writing about it followed a logical continuation towards encouraging others to engage in what Ian considered great music. In 2005, Ian started Fishrider Records to release one of his friends albums he thought deserved to be released. The album was recorded in his basement, followed by sending it out to a few New Zealand record labels that they were never to hear back from. Around the same time, Ian was trying to release this first album for his friend, Ian Jorgensen who was working on A Low Hum gave him some great advice. Ian was told, "Don't wait for other people to make things happen for you, do it yourself."
In Ian's words, "I took his advice and foolishly believed that it can't be that hard to release a record." Ian later described that he was quite wrong in making that assumption, although the advice he had received was sound and pushed him to pursue Fishrider Records.
Ian started out by recording and releasing music for his brothers band, The Puddle. After releasing a couple of their albums, Ian started working with a group that had moved from Gisborne to Dunedin, The Opposite Sex. The band played unique and unusual music that Ian thought he could find an audience that would enjoy their music. Ian managed to get the album over to the UK where they received great radio time and reviews on notable radio stations and magazines.
The success of an unknown Dunedin band over in the UK confirmed Ian's belief that there is an audience out there for the unique and weird music from Dunedin. That it is just about getting the music out there to those that want to hear it: researching and finding an audience that will engage with the music.
Ian has found from experience that historically Dunedin musicians are not good at putting themselves out there. It's as if it is embarrassing to market yourself as a musician here in Dunedin, especially if you play a genre that is unique and maybe a little bit weird to those around you. However, Ian is right in saying that if ten people like your music in a small city like Dunedin. You will probably find that the audience is considerably larger and more supportive if you put that same music in front of a similar audience in a larger city overseas.
Fishrider Records manages to release about two albums a year. Ian's biggest project to date involved releasing a compilation last year of thirteen Dunedin bands in conjunction with a New York label, Bada Bing in the United States, as well as being co-released in the UK. Ian has also seen success with another Dunedin band, Males who were asked by a Japanese label to license a release in Japan.
Ian can be proud of what he has achieved with Fishrider Records. Although I have only mentioned some of the work he has done, it is important to acknowledge some key messages Ian has discovered while taking his approach. He encourages Dunedin musicians to keep creating great music even if you don't think you have an audience here in Dunedin. You can create music in Dunedin and get recognition around the world, it might just require a bit of hard work and confidence to put yourself out there!
Fishrider Records is doing a great job in sharing Dunedin's quirky and unique music to the world. If you are a music fan and have not heard of this label before, then you should check it out and the artists Ian has worked with. If you are a musician or are interested in getting involved in releasing music to the world, Ian is a wealth of knowledge and is happy to give advice and is very approachable.
You can find Fishrider Records online below:
Wordpress (Blog): http://fishriderrecords.wordpress.com/
Better yet, support New Zealand music and purchase some of the great music online at http://fishrider.storenvy.com/