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toroddfuglesteg View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Amicale Underground Record Label
    Posted: September 14 2010 at 11:18

Amicale Underground is a French record label that has released albums and EPs with bands like Jull, Rien and Calin. All three bands is well within the Eclectic and/or Post Rock genre and is under evaluation in ProgArchives, as far as I know. Their outputs is both free downloads and normal CDs. 

I got in touch with Amicale Underground through the interview I did with the French eclectic prog band Centenaire earlier this year and I downloaded all the Amicale Underground releases. I really like their releases and I also believe Amicale Underground has an interesting business model for underground record labels.

Etienne answered my questions on the behalf of Amicale Underground.


What is your background and what did you do before you set up your current record label ?

 Actually, the current label was found by the whole RIEN band members. Our first record 'Requiem pour des baroqueux' released by a small french Label 'Un Dimanche' in 2003 was sold out in 2005, and we wanted to print new copies. We also wanted to keep the fancy but expensive packaging: a nice 3D cube packaging. Due to the costs, our former label wasn't really up for that.. so we decided to create our own label l'AMICALE UNDERGROUND and produce it. that's it. 
regarding our background: each band member (we were 4 at that time) has his own.. 
Nothing really related to music 'business'.. I personnaly studied Management and Marketing though ;)

Why did you set up Amicale Underground and what was your business plan/idea ? Did you get any financial or any help at all when you set up the label ? 

When we found L'Amicale Underground, it was really just to put out our own records. As a good friend of us Jull wanted at that time to release his new record 'De La Neige et des Océans' we thought it could be a good idea to save money and print the covers on the same cardboard.. and that's how it began. At the same time, an other good friend wanted us to create a website for our record and put it on free download, he thought it might be an excellent idea to help to spread the word around our music. We thought it was an excellent idea too and he created l'Amicale Underground website: .
We didn't get any financial helps at first, but for the second RIEN record we asked for some money from the city where we live (Grenoble) and obtain 1000€ fund. we obtained the same amount with CALIN.

Please give us a (long or brief) presentation of each of your released albums on Amicale Underground.

I think the best is to visit this page  just Domotic And My Jazzy Child record info are missing:

A few words about them. I had listen to Domotic a few years ago and liked it a lot. I discovered Centenaire and liked it even more. and when Domotic and My Jazzy Child sent me their record, I thought it was a great opportunity to make the Amicale Underground community bigger.. with excellent music. that's it.

What is the approx sales and/or download figures for your albums ?

CalinSurely Not Harp1340
Jullde la neige et des océans1159
Domotic - My Jazzy ChildChansons d'ete771


RIEN prédiction : 1750 produced. sold out. (promo/gift approx 300..)
Rien Requiem : 1500 produced. sold out (promo/gift approx 400..)
RIEN 3 EP : 500 produced (almost sold out) (promo/gift 50..)

CALIN : 100 produced, sold out
JULL : 1000 produced, 150 sold.
Domotic & MJC : 120 produced: approx. 40 sold.
FYI: JULL and Domotic & My Jazzy Child didn't do any tour.

Your concept is pretty unusual, to say at least. But I also believe your concept will be adopted by a lot of other record labels in the years to come. Within the next months and years, albums will only act as promos to get gigs or for gigs and not the other way around like it is today. Do you agree or disagree with this view ? 

Yes I agree totally with this view.. 
and I'm happy that we were right since the beginning in 2005. If I had more money at that time I would have created something like Bandcamp  :) it's for me the best model for bands nowadays...
I was also happy to see that band such as Radiohead did the same expertise than us for In rainbow in 2007.

What do you feel you can do better than a band who want to release an album on their own as a free download ?  

Well.. I think now Bandcamp exists... I can't do better...
the only think is to devellop apart from the MP3, a nice fancy object as a packaging.
I think it was worth to do the cube packaging and the pyramidal packaging for RIEN.. and it's always worth to do limited fancy series.

How do you market and promote your albums ?

First, I have to say, we don't release more than 2 records a year.. so it's pretty small business.. and we mainly work on our own records.. or records of close friends (Jull, domotic &MJC). FYI> CALIN, is a two piece band which includes 2 member of RIEN.
then, the main promotion is through newsletter/email (the email that we receive from people who downloaded our records). then we imagine fancy object and try to get the attention of media on music and object. but nothing is better as a band doing a good live show and touring as much as they can... :)

It is my understanding that you do some CD manufacturing. Manufacturing is an own form of black art. Where and how do you do the studio recordings, the graphics & art work, the mastering and the CD pressings ?

Studio recordings for RIEN and CALIN was done in Grenoble @ la Bobine venue with an old friend of us, Fred BRAIN Monestier, who I met in a college radio station back in 1999. Since the first record we only worked with him.. He's a nice guy, with good ears, able to understand quickly what we want.. what we don't want. it's easy to work with him and we feel comfortable in this friendly atmosphere.. and that's the main thing for recording.
for JULL, and Domotic, they did all the recordings mainly on their own. (Brain did the mastering of domotic though)
All the Packaging were done by an other friend which works in a Calendar factory. I met him in 1998 in this College radio station too.
All the design excepted (JULL) were made by an other friend Denis:  Look at his work, it's pretty good.

Running an underground record label is like the art of how to get as many omelets as possible from one egg. How is your finances and are you breaking even or even going into profits ?

Finance are ok, and when we lose some money on some projects (JULL, Domotic & MJC) other projects bring money in: RIEN, CALIN. 
But nobody here makes a leaving from this 'art'.

How do you deal with your bands, contract and communication wise ? How and why do you sign a band ? 

As I said, we only work with close friends or our own project (RIEN, CALIN)  so we don't have contract, and communication is really limited.
for Domotic & MJC or JULL, for instance; we paid all the costs of production, mastering.
before we produce the record, we know how many copies we need to sell to break event..
and after break event: 15% goes to the label, 85% to the band. but we didn't break even with these two projects..

Have you had any bad experiences of any kind ? 

not really.. except with distributors.. (Musicast in france) which didn't pay us the last copies that we sent to them... As a small band, or label, I advice not to take any distributors.. it's a waste of time and money...

What is this year's release plan for Amicale Underground ? 

In 2010: nothing else apart from RIEN '3' EP already out.
In 2011 : CALIN first full lenght record and RIEN '2' EP. + possibly Jull and Yugo Solo (from RIEN) doing a haiku records...  more soon..

I have touched upon this theme in another question, but I still wonder what you think is the future of the music industry which many think is doomed. What is your thoughts about the music industry and it's future ?

well, I think if the music industry is doomed, music in general is really healthy!.. and if we could have the right figures (I mean not only the main Music label figures...), I'm sure we would notice that there haven't been so much money spent in music by people during the last decades.. (shows, records, merch...).
Anyway, I think there will be fewer and fewer intermediaries between the band and their audience in the future especially in indie music. But to spread the word, prescriptors will still continue to exist and influence the sells and the 'hype'. Labels will turn into a good prescriptors even more than the paper press which is dying and needs to support big artist to still continue to sell newspapers... but nobody wants to read an ad magazine anymore..
As a lot of music is now sold on tour... Booking agencies will probably begin to developp their own label.

Anything you want to add ? 

Yep, don't hesitate to download all our records for free here :
if you like the music that you heard.. buy directly to the band at the end of a gig or purchase the record on the the label website. 
When you like, spread the word. :)
that's it.

Thank you to Etienne for this insight into
Amicale Underground

Labels like this deserves both our attention & support

All their releases is highly recommended



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memowakeman View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 14 2010 at 23:16
Interesting interview. This label and its bands are unknown to me, but that should change soon.

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