What's in a Label?: 7Spin Music
- Monday, April 14, 2008
There is a curious statement on the back cover of the Sevenglory CD Over the Rooftops, down in the fine print where the usual copyright and legal disclaimers live: "PERMISSION GRANTED: feel free to burn a copy of tracks 1 and 2 for as many friends as you like." Not the sort of thing you would expect in an age where the recording industry has had a quarrelsome relationship with listeners who ignore stringent copyright warnings.
Just when you thought you had those big, money-hungry record labels figured out, one comes along and invites you to copy their music. Such is 7Spin Music, a label that was born in the tumultuous days of illegal downloads that changed the industry and its business model forever. Founded in 2004 by Peter Khosla, 7Spin is an unconventional label in an unusual setting, located in the small town of Valparaiso, Indiana. But it may well be drawing the roadmap for the future of the music industry.
To say that record labels are in a state of flux is an understatement. Shrinking CD sales have caused labels to rethink and reevaluate almost everything they do. It would then seem a gamble to enter that fray with a brand new record label. The music business as a whole was and is challenging, but if ever there was a time to rewrite the book, we're living in it. The name "7Spin Music" is an indication that the book-rewriting process has gone through a few rough drafts.
?"The dot com name was available," explains Khosla, "and at the time we thought conventional distribution was going away, so we were thinking more of an online-only business, maybe with 77-cent downloads." The site is still there, as are the $0.77 downloads (along with some free ones!), but so are the conventional CDs for an ever-expanding roster of artists. ?
A single conversation with Khosla may touch on everything from music, small business in America, modern theology, profit sharing, Barna research, and the early church in the Book of Acts. The topics are as diverse as his background and the winding path that brought him where he is today. A one-time concert promoter, then a manager, and now a label head, Khosla already had degrees in Biblical Literature, Biology, and Economics before he finished his Juris Doctor degree by taking 17 hours and 3 years worth of writing assignments in one semester. Not many lawyers take so many classes at once to accommodate their busy schedule of booking rock concerts.
This unique set of background skills seems to have prepared Khosla perfectly to head 7Spin, which operates alongside sister companies that provide booking, management, publishing, and consulting services. Indeed, Kosla's circuitous academic and professional experiences could serve as the template for label presidents who find they also need to step in as manager, booking agent, accountant, and music business consultant. With such hindsight, Khosla humbly admits that he was "really slow" to pick up the utility of his skill set. "People say it's unique, but I say if you had gotten into these courses, you would have figured this out sooner." A particular phrase resonated with him in our conversation: "Making it up as you go along—I know that well!"
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