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In 1992, Frans de Waard (of Kapotte Muziek, Beequeen and the Korm Plastics label) was asked to work for Staalplaat, then one of the biggest independent labels for experimental and electronic music. Staalplaat was the home for bands like Muslimgauze, :zoviet*france:, Rapoon, O Yuki Conjugate as well as Jaap Blonk, Normally Invisible and Kingdom Scum. With an average of three new releases every month, Staalplaat remained a major player for the next eleven years. Hired to set-up a database and to sell and buy new music, Frans de Waard over the years also assumed a role as (unofficial) business director and A&R man, and came to be regarded as the head honcho. In 2003 he’d had enough and decided to quit.
This book tells his story about those eleven years, the many high and as many lows of working for a small independent record label, which also functioned as a shop, mail order, radio programme, news outlet, and concert organiser. It’s about embarrassing confrontations with musicians, labels, distributors, and the endless spending on the most unique packaging CD-land ever saw.
The book includes an interview with Staalplaat founder Geert-Jan Hobijn, a transcript of a radio interview with Muslimgauze, a 1980’s account of Staalplaat’s activities, and a discography, among others. This might be a suitable reading for everyone with an interest in the experimental music scene, and anyone else who wants to read a crazy, funny and sad story about a small struggling record label.
The second edition is expanded with two more appendixes, one about John Cage and one about things found and lost, 2016-2019. Also, anyone who is interested in a manual of how (not) to run your record label might want to take notes.
"Before reading this, I had some doubts about Frans’ ability to write something so captivating and downright fucking funny. I’ve worked with him myself before, plus we have met a few times, and I always had this impression he was a somewhat sombre, serious type (an impression maintained by his reviews), but This is Supposed to be a Record Label shatters this completely. The man ought to put down his pipe long enough to get another book out because he certainly knows how to tell a story." - Adverse Effect
"Although familiar with his work in sound and music, I hadn’t had the chance to hear de Waard’s writer voice until I came across his long-running music review newsletter, Vital Weekly. The matter-of-factness reflects the brutal honesty of his assessments. A dry, wicked sense of humor is always close to the surface. De Waard’s keen observational eye made This Is Supposed to Be a Record Label a must-read for anybody interested in underground sounds." - Hyperallegric.com