There are always people in the music business that others say, “Oh you HAVE to know so-and-so!” People who always help others, live up to their word, stayed successful, and who haven’t screwed the whole thing up! We are lucky to have one of those people right here in our own back yard, he’s the incredible Jon Halperin.
Halperin has been a band manager and music writer, but most of us probably know him as a talent booker – a task he has been rocking for more than 20 years. From Chain Reach to the Music Tastes Good Music Festival, The Glass House to the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, he’s the man.
With the live music industry shut down for almost a year now (I AM DYING!), Halperin found a way to keep bands in business and satisfy their fans in a special way. Halperin’s record label – Stay Free Recordings – has been working with independent bands to get limited edition vinyl to music collectors. In today’s environment, it would be a monumental task for anyone. Halperin and his wife/partner Julia Ruiz were nice enough to fill me in…
THE HERE AND NOW
“Success in the music industry isn’t something that you wait for or hope for. It is something that you create.”
― Simon S. Tam
Jon Halperin | Founder
Stay Free Recordings
Traci: “Thank you for taking the time to do this! It has been so interesting to see the various ways the industry has moved through the shutdown. What inspired you to create the record label?”
Jon: “At the beginning of the pandemic, I bought a boom box and spent our early evenings on our back patio listening to cassettes. By summer, I bought a portable record player and listened to just 7” vinyl singles. Julia had been bugging me for months to revive my 1990’s ska label Vegas Records, which I wasn’t interested in doing. One night I had the epiphany of starting a label, but doing singles only. I wanted them to be super limited. I wanted people to think of them as pieces of art rather than just records.”
Julia Ruiz: “I may have selfishly asked Jon to start the label. It happened while I was furloughed and I needed a project. I realized that I couldn’t continue doing my normal day to day job (which thankfully I still have), that I needed something exciting to keep me going.”
Traci: “Understandable! As collectors of street art, going an artistic and limited way fits you! Explain how these records are special?”
Jon: “For now, everything is limited to 200 sellable. Every record will have several colorways, and most will come with something “extra,” whether it is a button or a sticker, or … ???“
Traci: “Surprises are good! What types of bands and artists are you looking to work with?”
Jon: “I want to work with artists that other people aren’t necessarily thinking about. If it is an artist that releases music, then do something different. Either a cover song or maybe something cool with the art.”
Traci: “What is the process? I mean, does the band call you?”
Jon: “For the most part, I have been reaching out to artists, but since word has gotten out, I have had some really cool artists reach out to me!”
Traci: “That’s gotta be awesome to find new artists and share them! What are your next releases?”
Jon: “This Friday, March 5, we have three releases“:
1. Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols, etc.) with Earl Slick (David Bowie, John Lennon, etc.).
2. Nile Marr (son of Johnny Marr and an amazing Manchester-based indie rock artist in his own right. I’ve turned on UK radio on more than one occasion and heard him being played).
3. Charles Uzzell Edwards aka Pure Evil (He is a visual artist, known for his graffiti, his prints, his gallery in Shoreditch, London, but also happens to be an electronic artist. For this release, the backside of the jacket will be grip tape with the intention of damaging whatever it rubs against).
Traci: “All three sound amazing! I know you are not profiting off these records, which is incredibly generous of you. What is the price point for these records?”
Jon: “Typically anywhere from $10-$15. I want the artist to make money. I don’t care about making a dime. This is about having fun and doing cool releases.”
Traci: “We’ll take it! For newer bands, how can they get going now? Without venues showing them off, what avenue should they try?”
Jon: “Honestly, it’s about content. Make rad videos, write great songs. Create a Twitch channel. Make people like me come to you.”
Traci: “In your opinion, when will live shows return?”
Jon: “Really hoping for live music to return in the fall. It just seems like we are heading in the right direction at this point.”
Traci: “Many people may not realize bands make their most money from touring and shows, so this past year has been a very big deal to bands and crews. People like you are pretty damn awesome, so thank you for looking for ways to help them out and keep the music going!”
Thank you so much to Jon and Julia for being incredibly nice (and making me laugh!), and for all you are doing. It’s an incredibly important aspect of the recording industry and their efforts are crucial in today’s world of music. What they are doing is not easy, they just make it look that way.
Check out Stay Free Recordings and snag your limited edition vinyl this week!