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Racer Records Captain's Log - May 24, 1996

Lots of people have asked about the day-to-day workings of an indie label, so I thought I'd start giving a little running commentary of just exactly what it is I do around here.

Captain's Logs are written sporadically and tend to get skipped if I'm insanely busy or am doing a lot of computer consulting (and hence very little Racer work).

I'll try to post this as consistently as possible until I forget to do it, I run out of time, or I find out people think it's incredibly pretentious and boring.

Comments and questions are heartily encouraged.


The main focus of this week was Big Umbrella's shows in San Francisco Thursday and Friday night. I also put a bunch of effort into trying to resolve some ongoing problems with Big Umbrella's latest CD at Caroline Distribution - it still hasn't showed up in their computer, even though they ordered it weeks ago.

Cast of Characters

Russ Osiecki of Big Umbrella, their lead singer and guitar player, and my main contact in the band
Dave Brow of Wonderboy, their bass player
a Racer fan from Alabama, a high school senior, who calls me now and then to say hi
Jill Garellick of Cactus Motel, their lead singer and songwriter
Dick Tallman of Washington, a promoter and big Big Umbrella fan, and a friend of mine
Scott was an intern at Racer for a while; he's currently booking Club Cocodrie in San Francisco (along with about a million other things he does)
Steve Refling of Big Umbrella, their lead guitar player
Bayside and Caroline
these are the two distributors Racer works with

Captain's Log, Saturday, May 18, 1996

Other Phone Calls:

* Russ of Big Umbrella called to tell me about the New Music Festival's open mic opportunities on their Web page.

* Dave of Wonderboy called about an item in the last artist newsletter - I ran an article (which, word for word, had appeared in the PREVIOUS artist newsletter) asking band members to call and tell me what was going on with them, so I would have info to post online and would know what everyone was up to. I said I'd give a free CD to the first person to call after May 15 (I wanted everyone to have a chance to get their newsletter before starting to take calls). Dave was the only one who called, so he got a free CD (he picked the latest Big Umbrella CD).

Captain's Log, Sunday, May 19, 1996

Just did general office stuff today, and relaxed a little bit.

Captain's Log, Monday, May 20, 1996

Radio Phone Calls:

Made 49 radio calls

Other Phone Calls:

* A sales rep from Goldmine magazine called to ask if I wanted to place an ad in an upcoming issue.

* A guy from a promotion firm called. They're not a booking agency but handle booking and publicity for bands on tour. They charge $2000 for 20-25 dates. He said he had sent me information, which I couldn't find, so he said he'd send it again.

Captain's Log, Tuesday, May 21, 1996

Radio Phone Calls:

Made 55 radio calls

Other Phone Calls:

* The desktop publishing bureau that's outputting the Cactus Motel film called to tell me about trapping and file problems they're having with the job.

* Russ of Big Umbrella called to tell me he'd confirmed a couple of shows in Los Angeles.

* A guy who had sent me a tape called to ask if I'd listened and whether I'd stopped laughing yet.

* I called my mail-order computer place and asked to return a trackpad I'd bought; had to go through some wrangling but finally got an authorization.

* Got a call from my friend Tommy in Alabama; he's graduating high school this week.

* Got a message from a consulting client about the current project.

* Swapped messages with Jill of Cactus Motel about the status of getting the album out; I told her about the problems with the artwork.

* Another guy who had sent me a tape called to ask if I'd listened.

Other Things I Accomplished:

* weekly radio fax

* backing up my hard drive


Captain's Log, Wednesday, May 22, 1996

Radio Phone Calls:

Made 69 radio calls

Other Phone Calls:

* The main round of phone calls today was talking to various people at Caroline. I've been having trouble getting Big Umbrella's latest CD entered in their computer for several weeks - ever since they ordered it. After a handful of calls today, I got a call from the manager of the West Coast office, who told me very apologetically that they were dropping Racer. I asked if there was any way the decision could be appealed and asked if she could talk with the sales reps, who seemed to be genuinely interested in having Racer releases available to them. She said she would try to talk to them and call me back today or tomorrow. All the retail people I've talked to are really happy with Caroline, so I'll do just about anything to try to keep our account with them.

* Spoke with a guy who has a concept album he'd like to get out in time for the November elections. I told him it would be pretty tough to get something out that quickly but that he was welcome to send a tape.

* Talked to Dick (Big Umbrella's friend up in Washington) to give him details for Big Umbrella's show in San Francisco this week.

* Spoke with a guy who does a cable access show and is interested in getting a copy of Big Umbrella's latest CD for review on the show.

* Talked with one of the Caroline sales reps.

* Left a message with my buyer at Caroline asking about getting the problem with Big Umbrella's CD straightened out; I'd also like to ask her about payment for Wonderboy sales.

* Spoke with a musician who's visiting from Canada; he'd like to submit a demo.

* Talked with Russ of Big Umbrella about some bookings he's working on.

* Got a call from Bruce of Not Lame, who placed an order for more copies of Wonderboy's Abbey Road To Ruin.

* Left a message for Scott at Club Cocodrie to get some people from the local AAA station, KFOG, on the guest list for Big Umbrella's show.

* Left a message for the San Francisco Caroline sales rep inviting him to the two Big Umbrella shows.

* Left a message for the designer who worked on the Cactus Motel artwork about trapping and file problems.

Captain's Log, Thursday, May 23, 1996

Big Umbrella arrived in town today to play a couple of shows in San Francisco. I picked up their (and my) friend Dick at the airport; he came in just for the show. We had a great talk on the way back to the office; he got to tag along while I went to UPS and the post office.

Big Umbrella headlined at Club Boomerang. They sounded great, as always; the audience was a little sparser than I would have liked, but that seems to be typical at that club.

Radio Phone Calls:

Made 87 radio calls

Other Phone Calls:

* I talked with the designer of the Cactus Motel artwork about the problems the desktop publishing bureau called me about.

* Left a message for the A&R rep at Atlantic that I talk to occasionally.

* Spoke with a woman who wanted to send me a demo package.

* Got a message from a guy who used to be in a band that I liked and tried to sign. He saw that Big Umbrella's playing in town and wanted to come see them, and also wanted to get back in touch and see what was going on with Racer. He's in a new band now.

* Got a message from a guy who had sent me a demo package and was now sending lyrics that I had requested.

* Got an order for some cassettes, based on an ad I had placed in Goldmine.

Captain's Log, Friday, May 24, 1996

Big Umbrella played again tonight at the Cocodrie in San Francisco, along with a cool local band called Red Letter Day, Candy Planet, Thrill Pillows, local pop rock icon Chris Von Sneidern, and newly-signed DGC band Sugarplastic. The horrendous parking situation in San Francisco made the band a little late, which made me miffed, but I got over it pretty quickly once they started to play. It's a nice room, and the audience seemed to like them a whole bunch.

Since the band was in town, I spent part of the day (after making all my phone calls) taking Russ and Steve of Big Umbrella out to lunch (I would have taken Derek and Eddie, too, but they were hanging out at Fisherman's Wharf with Dick). We had a really good talk about strategy, budgets, how things are going and what direction we'd like things to go.

Radio Phone Calls:

Made 96 radio calls

Other Phone Calls:

* Bob Doerschuk of Musician called to tell me he's writing a review of Amy X Neuburg & Men's Utechma - tremendous news. We'd been hoping he'd run a review ever since the album came out; he wrote a terrific review of her first CD for Keyboard.

* The music director of KPAC called for details on Big Umbrella's Sacramento show.

* Old Ironsides called, confirming Big Umbrella's June 14 show.

* I talked with one of my consulting clients about giving them a bid for an extra component of the project I'm doing for them.

The Captain's Log is an inside look at the day-to-day operations of an indie label. Contents may have settled during shipping. Questions, comments, ideas, and thoughts are encouraged (whether or not they're related to the log).



Racer Records

This page was last updated on March 3, 2004 by Kristi Wachter.