Nashville Native Translates Love of Music into Independent Label

Dave Dickerson earns a living as a substitute teacher, but his true passion is music. When he’s not educating kids, the native of Nashville, Tenn., runs Double D Records, a label that celebrates local bands and music from artists around the world (including tribute projects). His goal: to “continue to put out great records while staying true to independent music philosophies.”

GoPayment recently talked with Dickerson about starting his own business and using online resources to help fund it.

elliott smith tributeGoPayment: How did the idea of forming your own music label come about?

Dickerson: I started my label in 2005, soon after the death of the musician Elliott Smith in 2004. I wanted to recognize his great contributions and was successful in putting out the first officially licensed Elliott Smith tribute album. Since then, Double D has had a part in 16 releases. I’ve done all the work myself, including building a website, finding bands, acquiring legal permissions for cover songs, and so on. It’s been a challenge, but I love it.

What types of challenges have you faced?

First I had to make sure that I understood all the intricacies of operating a music label. I did extensive research online — everything from how to license cover songs and get an album manufactured to the best use of distribution channels. Then I quickly learned that, with a project like this, no one will beat a path to your door. You have to become a master at getting the word out.

How do you do that?

In the early days, Double D was publicized almost entirely on MySpace. That’s where all the bands came from that we ended up signing. These days, I use Facebook and blogs to spread the word. Our releases so far include great music from the Phonies, Drug Buddies, Geraldine and the Donkeys, and a Lemonheads tribute album.

What’s the latest project in the works?

Some time ago, I was humming “The Sound of Silence” in my head when I came up with this idea of merging Simon & Garfunkel tunes with metal bands. But this time I’m going about things in a different way — through Kickstarter, which bills itself as “the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.” On this site, people pledge funds for all kinds of creative projects. With the help of Kickstarter and our backers, I want to gather dozens, if not hundreds, of submissions from metal bands and then narrow the selections down to 10 or 15 of the very best covers for the final product (including digital, CD, and vinyl). As before, there’s also the complex and expensive process of licensing these songs.

Do you have a release date set?

We’re aiming for a release in June 2012. The physical album will come in deluxe, limited-edition packaging (500 albums), and we’ll do a deluxe CD version of the same number. This will be available only to Kickstarter backers.

How does GoPayment fit into your process?

If all goes well and the project gets funded, we’ll have a gala launch party where people can pay with credit card and GoPayment. Any music label that releases albums and sponsors concerts should have this mobile payment system. It just makes good business sense.

About Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning freelance copywriter and editor and a former Senior Writer for Vistage International, a global membership organization of chief executive officers. He writes frequently on issues and challenges faced by U.S. small businesses.
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