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Electric Dream Records Successfully Establishes Itself Right Here in Rockford and Without Rockford’s Help

Electric Dream Records, Rockford, IL, Founded on August 17, 2017

Rockford, Illinois — Electric Dream Records [EDR] was launched August 17, 2017 to little fanfare and support from the region where it was birthed. (Which is no surprise for many artists in the Rockford area.) Brian Diamond, the label’s owner and veteran artist, spent years contemplating the idea of combining a passion for collecting music and recording music into something bigger than himself. Something he could help other artists with: Releasing music against all financial odds, and against whatever mainstream media and artists are selling.

RKFDnews spoke exclusively with Diamond about Electric Dream Records, its origin, its first year, its successes and obstacles, and what holds for its future. We talked about Rockford, too, and what it’s like to be an artist here without the support of local media or community interests. We talked mainly about the process of releasing vinyl, starting a label, and earning the respect of strangers everywhere else who fueled his passion for making music into a business that provides a life soundtrack for himself and music lovers all over.

Read below to meet Brian and Electric Dream Records. (People in Rockford won’t, can’t or don’t read. No worries there.)


Brian Diamond, Founder, Electric Dream Records

Brian Diamond, Artist / Founder of Electric Dream Records, Rockford, IL

BD: ”The resurgence of vinyl got me thinking and creating more than ever. For much of the past twenty years, mastering and reproduction costs of vinyl with economical distribution options weren’t feasible for most independent artists without a label to assist with financing the production costs.

The crowdsourcing era with Kickstarter, Pledge and a few others opened up a door for live-performing and touring artists to finance their work with funds gifted from fans for pre-orders and limited merch rewards. It didn’t solve a problem for artists who can’t afford the costs associated with traveling and performing, or artists who simply choose to create music on their own terms and struggle to reach a wider audience.

The bridge between technology, social media, reproduction and distribution has had a great effect on the vinyl production industry and independents like myself. What used to be a 6 month to 12 month turn-around on any quantity of vinyl records ordered, at higher costs, with slower supply fulfillments is now immediate with cost and distribution options thanks to a new generation of music lovers. But this trend still didn’t solve the problem many artists face– how to come up with the funds to make a vinyl release happen?

The issues amount to more than the upfront costs of vinyl reproduction for independent artists. There are audio mastering and package design needs and requirements that are technically specific to vinyl. The recorded and mixed audio, specifically, you need to master for vinyl. If you don’t, and some artists don’t, the audio quality will suffer between digital and analog versions.

Shipping is a major issue, too. Unlike a cd or cassette tapes, records are big, fragile and expensive to ship— they often end up sacrificed, bent, or broken by mail carriers.

I self-released my 2016 LP, “Aria,” on vinyl via my Shadows & Mirrors moniker, and that specific experience with releasing my first vinyl record drove me to launching a label. The focus was initially on becoming a home for my future work, but also, for possibly helping other artists release their work on vinyl. I focused on the Synthwave genre— a specific genre of artists that, like me, are releasing electronic-influenced music.

There is no handbook for all of the hard work that goes into writing, composing, engineering, recording, producing, mixing, mastering, publishing and distributing the work of others, including myself. You either choose to do something, or you don’t— and being in Rockford, it’s easy to get inspired to do anything. Far too many people here doing nothing with far too many privileged scumbags ruining it for the working class.

Only one way to fight that stigma: Create something, do something, use your time to do something besides holding down a day job that you’re not going to have when you’re dead. Make some art and sell it if you choose to. Give it away when you can, too, but simply do something. Leave something behind for others to find after your human experience comes to an end.”

Diamond presented the business idea to a few close friends, including his brother, Mike, a published author:

MD:Passion drives what Brian creates, and with a business model to complement the music he wants to release, EDR has become a union of artists surging forward. It isn’t about the money, it’s about doing what your soul craves.

Diamond has broken even since the label’s launch in 2017, and then some. Electric Dream Records added 9 global artist to its roster for releases during its inaugural year:

Lazerpunk (Budapest, Hungary), Protector 101 (Oregon, USA), Lebrock (Peterborough, UK), Swimware (New York, USA), Starforce (Helsinki, Finland), Master System (Texas, USA), Android Automatic (Detroit, USA), Renegade (Sweden), and most recently, Make Up and Vanity Set (Tennessee, USA).

They join Diamond’s Shadows & Mirrors as EDR’s flagship artists. Diamond and EDR has released 12 vinyl record productions since the label’s launch on August 17th, 2017. That’s a dozen independent releases in less than 12 months. Pretty remarkable for a label’s first year, and without financial backing or traditional marketing efforts. It wasn’t without major successes and hiccups.

BD: “I didn’t set financial goals which goes against business economics. First off— I set goals for finding artists, building relationships, strengthening the commitment, and lastly, delivering their work on vinyl. Artists have submitted work from all over. Selecting work that moves me is one of the most rewarding and challenging aspects to managing a label. It all starts with the music. Quality control of the music selected from submissions is a beast in itself. You don’t know what you’re going to get from the artist, or if they understand the process of going from digital to physical analog. It’s a timely, educative and fiscally tight process between myself, the artist, mixing, mastering, and the reproduction plant.

We also have to consider pre-sales, crowdsourcing, and retaining fans for future sales as a determining factor. If an artist isn’t getting much in the way of digital sales, odds are the need for a physical release just isn’t there. There needs to be a real groundswell from the fans and high engagement for EDR to back a project. We have to love the music as well, but many factors need to be in place for all parties to make a commitment, plan and act. Once it’s green-lights-go on an artist and their project, the real fun begins.

Jeppe Hasseriis

A major factor for preparing to release anything on EDR is the mastering of the audio for vinyl. Jeppe Hasseriis (Dynatron, Denmark) handles many of the label releases. His name is very well known in the Synthwave community. If you see Jeppe did the mastering, you can be 100% confident that it’s going to be a perfect sounding record. Not only is he talented and making some of the best electronic music on the scene, he is also amazing to work with— such a great person.

Barry Grint

I’ve also been lucky enough to work with Barry Grint (Alchemy Mastering, UK). He’s worked on mastering projects with legends: T-Rex, Bowie, the Stones, REM, Paul Simon, Thom Yorke, Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood—you want me to keep going? The Beatles, Gorillaz, Erasure, Madonna, Jesus and Mary Chain. Best part about working with Barry on a few releases: Class act, a man of his word, and an incredible engineer. Quality control all-star.

I can’t say enough good things about both Barry and Jeppe. I am very fortunate to have them helping me, the artists, and EDR execute the audio to perfection.

There’s the artwork and packaging, another major factor. The goal is to have mastering and artwork coincide with production deadlines per release. Two of my good friends, Andy Whorehall and Dave DeCastris, stepped up to help EDR get off the ground with Creative Direction, artwork and various design, layout, and technical specification tasks between EDR , the musicians and their preferred artists work (if requested), and the vinyl reproduction plants.

Dave DeCastris (left) and Andy Whorehall (right)

Some musicians came to the table with artwork already prepared by their artist friends which makes life easier (depending on file formats and quality) for me and Dave, and the overall project budget more affordable for all. Collaboration is key, and everyone being open to ideas that change in motion based on many quality factors to get the job done right and under tight timelines is essential. Dave has a long history of dealing with many egos, quality concerns when handling third-party files, problems and solutions, file fulfillment and deadlines from various industries, including musicians and the entertainment industry. Having him on board to establish and manage the direction of the label’s brand as a sole entity was vital to the first year going smooth from EDR’s branding perspective, but also from the recording artist’s branding perspective.

As for Andy Whorehall, his influence is spiritual. Eating buckets of KFC fried chicken definitely helps Mr. Whorehall and his agent, Lord Thomas Derby, keep Dave, EDR, the musicians, additional artists and myself in check with art direction and deadlines.

The funding and fulfillment of a record’s release is a beast. That can be overwhelming, especially when pre-orders aren’t moving as fast as you would like. The sooner it meets a pre-order goal, the sooner that everyone gets their records. Setting up a pre-order process includes many obstacles, too—mainly, the delivery of the product is months away. EDR has been fortunate enough to have true lovers of a physical art-form, vinyl music, be patient.

The pre-ordering and delivery process is an EDR business goal I’m looking to improve upon in 2018. I took my first step this summer to bring sales and distribution in-house with EDR’s website and an e-commerce shopping cart. All orders, unless otherwise specified, are immediate and ship within 24-72 hours of being ordered, if not same day. Improving sales, supply and fulfillment is a major business operation step for EDR moving forward and growing in a healthy manner.”

RKFDnews asked Brian lastly about growing up in Rockford and if it had any influence on his music and business.

BD:Rockford is quite unique in the fact that I’ve met so many talented musicians, writers, and artists of all types but as far as I know we have no real art culture to speak of. No collective identity to welcome all voices and characters, and not only the voices that praise Rockford in exchange for a greasy financial handout and biased media support. What does exist is funneled through a few blocks downtown or it lives for a night in a bar but is forgotten as quickly as it appears. I suppose it’s like anything— it’s more about who you know than how good or effective your art is at creating a reaction. And guess what, for me, that doesn’t even matter.

I didn’t contact any of the local papers or send anything to the television stations about what we were doing with Electric Dream Records. I don’t need them in order to succeed. This is the age of the internet and it’s a wonderful thing. It’s the Wild West out here, and if you haven’t figured out how to take advantage of what it offers to make something out of your passions or ideas yet, it’s not too late. Find your passion, build your dream. It will take tons of time and effort —and none of it is easy—but it’s a lot sweeter when your vision begins to become reality. That’s where EDR, the artists, and myself are right now.

When I see some 20 year-old kid posting our records spinning on his turntable on Instagram, I gotta tell you, even if it’s not my music, I take a lot of pride in that. Knowing for that moment our races don’t matter, our religions don’t matter, and our politics don’t matter. All that matters is the music. That connection exists and it is real. Seeing that happen is very, very rewarding.

Happy one year anniversary to EDR and its founder, Brian Diamond. Here’s to many more— and without Rockford’s help!

Check out Electric Dream Records online at electricdreamrecords.com.




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