No one would sign me, because I didn’t fit any business models, and probably couldn’t sell 500 records. But I was no stranger to self-publishing my own music. Yet the idea of running my own label always seemed extremely complicated and expensive. Until I decided to just go for it. Limited editions was all I could afford to do, but I found out I could copyright the music and make a second edition whenever I could afford to. Even if I haven’t made second editions of anything yet, it felt good to know that. It never made sense to me to make 500 copies of anything. I’ve heard from other Label-people, like Martin of Rabalder Records (see my entry on Rabalder Radio and Records) and Matias from Halshugga that it takes extremely long to sell, and they had to look at big piles of the same record for many years. It seemed this was a fate to be avoided, so I decided that my first release would be thirty home-dubbed spoken-word cassettes. But what would I call my label? I was soon to find out.
Anyway, I thought it would be a cool label name, and I could use the pictogram as a logo. My first cassette sold pretty quickly, and I scraped together enough cash to do an LP. Limited to just 50 copies, it took just a few months to sell. Thus there was cash in the Stilletid piggy-bank to do another one. Again just 50 Copies. At this time I had a few returning costumers on Bandcamp, who wanted every record and tape I released, but tapes didn’t seem to be as profitable anymore. Yet I kept making tapes too, because I love them. And that is what you have to reason it with. It is because you love it. It won’t ever be worth it. And in the end what I have learned from the Stilletid-experience, and what I want to advice anyone starting a label to do is this. Release whatever music that you’re the proudest of. The proudest of creating, or if someone else created it, the proudest of releasing. But be sure that you are realistic and don’t end up with 300 vinyl singles sitting under your bed.
What most of us do, there simply isn’t a huge audience for. Most of us have, as Frank Zappa said “no commercial potential”. Which is good. The best music isn’t mass-produced. It’s real, heartfelt, and sometimes even ugly. But when you think about that for a second, the greatest things in life are ugly. Love is ugly. Sex is ugly. Truth is beauty, even if it is ugly. A lot of people don’t want truth in their music. They just want maple syrup poured in their ears. Which is fine. We will do just fine without them.
You can visit Ditlev Buster's Stilletid label at Bandcamp