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Label love

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“Record labels are the best way for an unknown artist to have their music distributed for sale,” said Travis Searle, co-owner of both Guestroom Records and its label, Guestroom Records Records. “We didn’t even think about it being a digital age. It doesn’t matter to us. We like listening to music on vinyl, so that’s the format we prefer to release music on.”

Chris Harris, owner/operator of Nice People Records, however, sees MP3s as important.

“My idea was to be an MP3 label, so that bands can have some immediate gratification,” Harris said, although Nice People still puts out records, and even vinyl. “We’re more of a shortterm goal. Building a buzz is just as important as putting out a record and putting a few songs out there builds that buzz.”

Chemical Wire Records started in 1995, before iTunes was even a beta. It was called FSU Records then, but changed names in 2003.

It’s embraced the digital age as well. The first 100 people to sign up for its email list at ChemicalWireRecords.com after reading this will receive free records. No, really! The label wants to help its acts out in any way possible; sending the music through the Internet is one more way to do it.

“We try to hook them up as much as we can on the work end. We can’t throw a lot of money at it, but if they’re doing the work, we try to help them get where they want to go,” said J. Maxey, Chemical Wire co-owner.

That’s the goal of all three record labels: Get the music more exposure, no matter the genre.

“We work with bands we really like and think other people might, too,” said Searle, whose label has releases by Starlight Mints, Rainbows Are Free and Shitty/Awesome under its belt.

“I can’t think of anything we turned down ’cause it wasn’t in our genre,” Maxey said. His label focuses on indie folk (like Rainy Day) and indie rock, but has released rockabilly and psychedelic (Tony Brown’s Happy Hour) as well.

Although only around for a year, Nice People encompasses sounds as disparate as The Boom Bang’s manic surf-rock and Depth & Current’s heavy psych to Skating Polly’s two-girl indie-rock sound.

“Thus far, it has been ‘local bands only,’ but it’s not a rule,” Searle said of Guestroom’s lineup. “In fact, we’re going to look into spreading out nationally a bit in the future.”

Chemical Wire already works with bands outside of Oklahoma, from farflung places such as Ohio (Swearing at Motorists), San Diego (The Battle of Land and Sea) and Austin (Will Cope). Nice People wants to put its bands on the road all over the nation, but has a local, family oriented approach to its artists.

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