Thievery Corporation is still making music. But they’re not making anyone else’s music anymore. From an interview with GigaOM this week…
GigaOM: The internet has increased the size of your audience. There’s a lot more people who are aware of you, your group and your label worldwide, right?
Rob Garza, Thievery Corporation: “It’s interesting you bring that up. One of the things that has happened through that…
“It’s not so much the awareness that has triggered it, but we’ve basically, essentially shut down the record label ESL.”
“We’re putting out Thievery records, but we’re not working with any more artists, because we’ve gotten to the situation where… Let’s put it this way. Back in the day, we knew any artists we signed, and put out the record, it would sell at least 5,000 copies. Right?
“You give artists an advance. There was some money to be made through selling CDs and through licensing, and touring.
“Now, a lot of these artists… I don’t know if you saw that thing with David Lowery, from Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, where he talks about how, he had a million plays on either Spotify or Pandora, one of these streaming services. Basically, he earned less money than he would have made selling a t-shirt at one of his concerts.
“Those are the kind of economics we’re dealing with. When you run a small independent label, at a certain point, it becomes like trying to squeeze a dry lemon. It’s a lot of work, and you’re not getting a lot of juice. In one way, it’s allowed people to learn more, about these different artists that we have on our label. Even when we were dealing when it was just, iTunes was the only thing on the block, it was a lot more beneficial and sustainable for artists.”
GigaOM: “Wow. I did not know that you had shut down, essentially, your record label, which is too bad, because you were the global sound, curator from my standpoint. Always had a lot, of interesting groups on your label. What a shame.”
Garza: “Yeah. It’s tough too, because these are your friends. You’re coming up to them, and they’re, “What did we earn this last six months?” Here’s the $100. Here’s the numbers to show it.