Interview with Chris Bollinger of MACHINE MAN RECORDS
When was Machine Man Records founded, and how widespread has it become? What genres does it specialize in?
Machine Man Records was created and founded on October 17 of 2017 with the specific intent to support various types of electronic and metal genres that are considered "underground" or "outside of the mainstream." Similar to what Wax Trax! Records was doing in the 1980s with their scene. We are attempting to the same with Machine Man Records.
The label's reach has been more than we could've expected since our launch. Within that time, the electro / deathstep / industrial rock group Dizzolve released their EP titled "The Hookwirm EP" and the industrial metal / cyber metal group AutomatoN released their fourth full length titled "Sub Coma". Both albums were released on December 12 on all digital media platforms.
With all of that being said, Machine Man Records is an independent record label, so our reach is very limited but as we all know the internet allows us to reach further. Websites like DistroKid, MondoTunes, Tunecore, etc. allows each artist on our label (or on their own as well) to have their releases featured on all digital media platforms similar to an artist on a major label. Platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, YouTube, etc. Simultaneously, to utilize all media platform outlets Machine Man Records has registered as a label on Bandcamp. All of these avenues are there to assist every band or group that signs to the Machine Man family.
Regarding mail orders, unfortunately Machine Man Records does not have an outlet for that platform at the moment. We are actively searching all avenues to find the best deal that suits the needs of our artists.
Machine Man Records supports various types of electronic and metal genres. Currently the label has a mixture of artists in various musical genres such as, industrial; industrial metal / rock, electro, synthwave, aggrotech, and metal / rock.
In 2018 the label will be adding an industrial metal / industrial rock band called Decent News, from the New England area, and a heavy synth - electronic rock band called Chmcl Str8Jckt, from the Northern New Jersey area whose style is in that of the old school Wax Trax! industrial bands.
How active was Wax Trax! Records and what artists of note did the label support until it folded?
Wax Trax! Records was very active in the 1980s. As stated on the Wikipedia page, they were founded in 1980 in Chicago. And for almost fifteen years, Wax Trax! Records was a powerhouse of an independent label that was primarily known for their new wave, punk rock, electronic and industrial releases. Unfortunately the label filed for bankruptcy in the early 1990s, and were subsequently bought by TVT Records. Further bad news resulted in TVT Records filing for bankruptcy. This of course effected all releases related to each artist on Wax Trax! Records, and ultimately ended everything for anyone associated with Wax Trax! Records or TVT when TVT closed their doors in the late 2000s.
Why, to your knowledge, did TVT and Wax Trax go bankrupt?
The only assumption I can make is that like most things, the spending costs began to outweigh the profits made back. Which in turn caused them to be unable to provide support and/or funding which then caused them to fold in on themselves. Again, that’s my best guess per what we now know about how the label was ran and how it all ended.
What are the advantages of digital media? Does it help you promote your bands on a wider scale in less time than the label industry?
There are not many advantages to releasing content only through digital media outlets. The main advantage is to keep all up front and overhead costs to a minimal for the bands and the label. Independent bands and labels have a limited amount of funding, therefore we have to be smart regarding utilization of those funds. Case in point, distributing funds to a company that will release your music on a wide array of digital medal platforms, or distributing funds to purchase 300 professionally made CDs that you may never recoup your finances on while selling them one at a time via live shows. Additionally, having your band’s music distributing on a multitude of digital media platforms will aid in spreading your music to a wider audience.
How much has social media created an alternative to the major label industry? At first internet downloading was a detriment, but now it is a help to bands and artists.
Machine Man Records is an independent record label, and our reach is very limited but as we all know the internet allows us to reach further. Websites like DistroKid, MondoTunes, Tunecore, etc. have changed the industry, and are allowing independent artists or labels to have their releases featured on all digital media platforms similar to an artist on a major label.
Platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, YouTube, Bandcamp etc are there to assist every band or group all over the globe distribute your product all over the globe. This is a big change in my opinion. Because it gives the small bedroom musician the same power as the major label musician. However, the promotional tools are not the same, and the end user has to go and search for the product. Or the independent musician will need to spend their limited finances on a PR campaign to assist with sales.
Each artist will have to be smart how they spend their funds and make sure they utilize all avenues available to them. Concurrently, if you feel your funds are being wasted in a specific area, don’t be afraid to cut ties. Sever the connection, reformulate your plan of attack, finalize a new plan and then implement
How much is social media’s transfer of drawing power to smaller bands changing the industry? As more underground and independent labels utilize it, do you believe the changes will continue?
That’s really tough to answer. Personally the old and current industry model is dead or dying. And this is because they refused to change when the opportunity presented itself. On top of that, when they did actual change their business model, it was too late. There’s a few companies that have changed with the times and of course they are still relevant or more relevant now than they were ten-plus years ago. But not many.
Social media has had a huge impact on the drawing power for smaller bands. 25-30 years ago, you had to play a show in a specific town. Said venue and/or band had to promote this specific show to potential fans. These potential fans had to attend this specific show to purchase that band’s album(s). At times, you would maybe attend a convention at a later date and see a bootleg recording of the show you attended for purchase. Now, everything’s on YouTube. Which is a double-edged sword. Your fan reach is a lot wider thanks to the power of the internet and social media. You can have fans all over the world without actually touring the world. But the down side of that is, your local fans can choose to not attend your show because they know it will be available on YouTube within hours or days. So you’re losing a physical audience and gaining a digital one, for lack of a better word.
It is a double edged sword. Personally for smaller bands, I see it as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. There are several local bands in the tristate area that will probably never tour the USA, let alone the world for whatever reason. Whether it be financial or family obligations. But thanks to sites like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, these bands can still play their local shows and someone in say, Amsterdam, can view these records and purchase their album on whichever digital media outlet they choose. All of this without ever leaving their home. To me, that is still a win. It may not be the dream these bands would choose to live, but a win is still a win in my book.
How often have you had to modify your approach to promoting bands, based on the financial and internet issues you have encountered?
So far neither the label nor the bands have had to modify our approach to promoting. Mostly because every band / artist that comes on board knows upfront my approach and what I will be able to do with regards to promoting their releases as well as band related interviews. Additionally, while the label’s approach is overall similar for each band or artist, there are a few instances where a specific artist has an idea that is only relative to them or their release. In those cases, then yes of course the approach will need to be altered to suit the needs of that specific artist. Regarding the internet, no issues have presented itself. The internet is a great tool for the indie artist or label. Which as I mentioned before, has helped not only the label but each artist under the label reach a wider audience than they would have without the internet.
How well have the Dizzolve and AutomatoN releases been received? Who else is signed to the label and what new bands have been signed recently?
Both albums from Dizzolve and AutomatoN have been received well since their release dates. AutomatoN has released three albums separately prior to joining Machine Man Records. Because of this, AutomatoN has a higher fan base than most of the other label artists and requires slightly less attention to push their album sales. Additionally, Machine Man Records has several other artists signed to the label as well as two more artists that will be also joining the Machine Man family in the next month or two. Below is a breakdown of all current artists on the label or an artist / group that will be joining Machine Man Records in the next month.
Current artist roster: AutomatoN, an industrial metal / cyber metal artist from Worcester, Massachusetts; Chmcl Str8Jckt, an electronic / industrial rock band from Hawthorne, New Jersey; Decent News, an industrial metal band from the New London County, Connecticut area; Dizzolve, an elektro / deathstep / industrial rock duo from Schwenksville / Lansdale, Pennsylvania area; Lapses, a horrorwave / synthwave artist from Bristol, Pennsylvania; Man Made Horror, an industrial / aggrotech band from Bridgeton, New Jersey; Quo, a progressive rock / metal artist from Worcester, Massachusetts.
Joining Machine Man Records in 2018: Demise and Domination, an industrial death metal / industrial metal artist from Worcester, Massachusetts; Epitome of Hostility, a metal / industrial metal group from Gainesville, Georgia; Kill Point Protocol, an industrial / electronic / doom metal duo from the Philadelphia \ New Jersey area; Varicella, an industrial metal duo from the Philadelphia / New Jersey area.
The label is taking on several new artists and groups, and we are behind each 100%. I just hope the listeners enjoy each release Machine Man Records has to offer, as the fans are the reason we are all here. Thank you to everyone that has supported Machine Man Records. We appreciate it more than words can articulate.
What releases from Demise and Domination, Epitome of Hostility, Kill Point Protocol and Varicella will be released this year?
Demise and Domination will release their fourth album with Machine Man Records in the second half of 2018. Additionally, all three of their previous albums have been added to the official Machine Man Records Bandcamp page and will be released on all digital retailers on 04.13.2018.
Epitome of Hostility will release their debut album once recording has completed. The album was originally scheduled to be released in the second quarter of 2018, but a recent set back has pushed their recording schedule back by a few months. And we do not have a scheduled release date at this time.
Kill Point Protocol will be entering the recording stage soon and hope to release their debut album by the end of 2018. No release date is scheduled at this time.
Varicella are currently finishing the master process of their debut album, “Dead is Better”. They will be releasing their first single, “Mindfucked”, in mid/late April exclusively through the Machine Man Records Bandcamp page for free. “Dead is Better” is scheduled for release in May.
Do you advertise seeking new bands on social media? How can bands who are interested in having their releases promoted through Machine Man Records contact you?
Machine Man Records doesn’t directly advertise that we are actively seeking new bands. However, if an artist would like to submit their music for review, they can do so by submitting a message through the contact section on our website.
Does the label have a YouTube profile where people can view promotional videos of your bands?
Fans can find the link on our home page of the Machine Man website. Or in the about section on the label’s Facebook page.
Who is on the staff of Machine Man Records, and what are their respective responsibilities?
Our staff roster is growing just like our artist roster. Currently, I handle most if not all aspects related to day to day operations of the label. Since each artist handles their own live show schedule, the label does not assist much in that area. If need be, Kevin Snell and I are available to provide support and guidance for each artist related to live entertainment and show bookings. And lastly, Machine Man Records has now partnered with Will Zimmerman at TAG Publicity. Will handles album reviews as well as all press releases related to each Machine Man Records artist. You can view Will’s website The Noise Beneath The Snow, here - https://noisebeneaththesnow.com/.
Name the local clubs where you are booking shows. Which of those collaborations have been most beneficial to all involved?
In the past few years, several bands from the label have played at the following clubs / venues – The Rusty Nail in Ardmore, PA. The Final Score in Bensalem, PA. The Underground in Lansdale, PA. The Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ. Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ. The Saw Town Tavern in Philadelphia, PA. The Pickering Creek Inn in Phoenixville, PA and a few other smaller bars that are local to the area. Honestly, they’ve all been beneficial in different areas which makes it hard to select a specific location. But really, the clubs or venues listed above are the ones we frequent the most as they have the best sound and/or receive the most people in attendance.
How did you hook up with Will Zimmerman for your recently formed partnership?
The old fashioned way, networking. I found The Noise Beneath The Snow via a Google search. After reviewing two releases from the label, Will and I discussed partnering up. Simple as that.
What bands do TAG Publicity help promote that you know of? What does your partnership with them entail?
Unsure of the particular bands that TAG promotes as they cover a wide variety of rock and metal bands. It is a very straight forward partnership. Will Zimmerman handles each Press Release related to all album releases under the label. Will assembles a professional doctorate, and then distributes to the various websites, online magazines, album reviewers, print magazines, etc. that are in TAG’s database. So far the label has only used TAG for two releases within 2018 and each album has exceeded all expectations. We are all very pleased by the results.
Are you still seeking people to help out with the label? How can interested parties contact you?
Anyone can reach out to the label by submitting a message through the contact section on our website, and I or another representative from Machine Man Records will reply as soon as time permits.
If you managed to acquire sufficient funds and could advertise on a wide basis, would you consider hosting a fest for your label and its bands in New Jersey?
Definitely. Machine Man Records has already hosted a few smaller shows between three or four bands on the label. With more to come. On top of that, Kevin Snell from Chmcl Str8Jckt is actively planning a few shows for 2018. Fans can be kept up to date on either the label’s Facebook page or the Facebook page for Chmcl Str8Jckt.
How much advertising went into the performances you hosted, and how much did it help the turnouts?
Lots of advertising and promoting. The label promoted in several groups on Facebook as well as local show websites. On top of that each bad sponsored posts on Facebook that were directed towards their specific genre of music. Additionally, a few of the bands advertised certain shows on multiple radio podcasts. And yes, all of this did help the attendance turnouts. But keep in mind, when I say that I do not mean that an extra 50 people showed up to the shows. Uncertain of the totals but it was a noticeable help.
Where do you see the label in a few years’ time? Do you hope to become a prominent underground label like Relapse or Metal Blade?
First and foremost, let me just say that I would love for Machine Man Records to reach the level of Relapse Records or even what Wax Trax! Records used to be. That would be amazing. I am just hoping for the label to grow each year with our current artist roaster and progress as much as we can. Add a few new artists each year, and remain stable as best as possible. That is where I would like the label to go and I am positive we can make it there. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone out there who is reading this and all the people who have supported Machine Man Records. Thank you all.