Interview – SounDrive Records

By: B Hartling

Brampton sons Dominic and Francesco Giuliano are busy making their mark on not only their local music but also business scenes opening the city’s first record label SounDrive Records. The brothers took some time out to catch up with me recently to explain their plans to take a fresh approach to what some might call a tired business model. The guys opened up about their unique, artist centric approach, their own history in the music industry, plans for the future and of course… zombies.

First off, can you please tell us what was it that made you decide to start your own indie label and why split focus between rock and rap?

Through our education, many years playing instruments, writing music, as well as producing, and engineering. We both felt that we had more to offer the Canadian music industry in respect to creating a platform for artists that live for their craft that is stable, low risk, and based on only the necessities of the artist in the areas paramount for their growth.  We believe by adding the record label element to our city (Brampton), a city with so much ambition and potential in it to become a vivid music community SounDrive will not only look to assist to the development in regards to that but to also bring the much needed unity required for any system to thrive.

We feel rock and rap are the most influential music genres of our generation and although the cultures are different, they share a similar rebellious message which defines SounDrive Records. Not to mention that we are sticking with the music that we know, love, and are most comfortable with.

You both studied at Metalworks Insititute, would you say that there is something inherent to the culture of learning there that drives students in directions such as the one you’ve taken or have you both always had an entrepreneurial spirit?

The thing about Metalworks that stood out for us was what also makes it an Elite music school. The instructors there are not your regular College professors more than music industry professionals that truly care about your development, which contributed to the knowledge and mindset we have now. When we attended Metalworks we never would have even imagined that we would be in the process of launching Brampton’s 1st record label but the music industry is 100% entrepreneurial already and everyone has his or her own path in this industry and this was ours.

Today’s scene seems to be over-saturated with indie labels poorly equipped to really offer their artists much variety in support offered. What do you feel SounDrive Records can offer that is going to make you stand out?

What will make SounDrive stand out is our ability to be able to produce high-quality recordings with an experienced staff at a lower cost that will enable us to sell music at affordable pricing for more efficient marketing.  We also want to ensure that everything from the music to merchandise is made easily accessible for the audience, which together we believe will help overcome the saturation of today’s industry.

You’ve stated previously that your primary focus is the digital realm rather than the traditional avenues the music industry has traversed. How important do you think it is for the industry to adapt to this medium, particularly digital distribution and do you feel artists themselves are calling for enough of a push in that direction?

The biggest thing is knowing your audience, which is what a lot of bands and artists often overlook. In today’s music industry it is obviously essential to have a strategic approach to market digitally and marketing in general. However audiences are reverting to their computers and mobile devices more and more often regardless of if they are looking for a digital copy, physical copy, or just to stream. Which makes it easier and cheaper than ever before to reach your audience with a clear approach.

What role do you think social media plays in an artist’s success these days? How do you intend to help artists who haven’t made a social media presence a priority?

We feel it is different for every artist and it again comes down to knowing your audience. For up and coming bands and artists however, it may be more important to at least have a presence on social media more than others whether it is for your audience to engage or to keep them consistently updated with your progress as you can be easily forgotten due to a quickly growing digital age. At the end of the day it comes down to knowing your audience and knowing where they are. You can then better determine how important social media should be.

You’re taking a different approach to building A&R in that you are turning to fans and artists themselves to build your roster. What checks and balances do you plan to put in place to ensure you recruits artists that are a good fit with your mission statement and to avoid being swamped by “my friend just started this band” type submissions?

#DRIVEYOURSOUND was created to provide a voice to those that empower the music industry, which are the supporters of music. Although we expect certain submissions that may not always suite SounDrive Records it will provide fan engagement as well as giving us the opportunity to point newer bands and artists in the right direction. It is something we never had coming up and believe it will go a long way in regards to unity and SounDrive’s contribution to the Canadian music industry.

You’ve also opted to forgo the typical 360 type contracts that are standard in the industy in favor of a different model. Can you tell us a bit about the model you plan to use and how you intend to make it sustainable?

Our model is simple. It is based on the necessities of the band or artist in regards to what is most important for their growth whether it is a great recording, product development, a strategic marketing approach or distribution. Also to provide a lower risk and stress-free environment for the artists to better focus on their music. We just want to see whoever we end up signing to succeed and SounDrive will not only share the risk but will be the wheels that allow the musical talent across Canada to drive to that success. By being transparent it will result in trust, which will strengthen the unity for continuity.

Rather than having your own studio your plans involve recording in established (presumably rented) studio space in the GTA, how do you plan to keep this a cost effective and viable option for your artists and do you plan to eventually look into the option of opening your own space?

Through our own endeavors in the music industry and through our education we have been able to build enough relationships with amazingly talented mentors, producers and engineers to turn this into a reality. SounDrive Records is lucky enough to be able to offer our roster cost efficient resources such as our Metalworks Studios Alumni discount. But opening up our own studio? Hopefully somewhere down the line but not anytime soon because our main focus right now is to focus on financing the career of our artist. Whoever that may be.

Tell us a bit about your plans for DRIVEWIRE. When can we expect the first one to take place?

DRIVEWIRE is our live music event that will be hosted across the GTA and streamed online through our official website so fans everywhere can experience it. Our vision is to illustrate an experience where the fans can see their favorite acts perform almost face to face that will also provide a superior platform for up and coming bands to establish themselves. We want to focus on signing an artist or band, which will depict when it takes place and the type of genre we go with but we are aiming for the first DRIVEWIRE event to take place near the end of 2016.

Lastly, because this is kind of my thing… The zombie apocalypse is upon us; together you get to pick 5 Canadian musicians for your zombie survival team. Who do you pick and why?

Excellent question!

  • Neil Peart for a good swing.
  • Classified to keep the morale high.
  • George Furlanetto. He builds bass guitars he can build a boat.
  • Neil Young because a Wiseman is necessary.
  • Daniel Snaith just to figure something out.

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