independent sound source


I've known for a couple years that this was coming unless something changed, and nothing changed. So here it is: Bastion Recordings is closing. Permanently.

I'd like to be able to write one of those messages saying "It was a good run and I don't regret a thing," etc etc, but I can't. It was an awful run and I regret almost everything about it. Apart from very warm and enthusiastic assistance from the great Jack Rabid and The Big Takeover, a single review in Jersey Beat, a mention in a Gotta Groove Records end-of-year favorites list, and a little bit of support from friends, the word that best characterizes the existence of Bastion Recordings is "silence." Despite heavily promoting every release to radio, magazines, zines, blogs, stores, and other channels, we received no responses other than those listed above. Despite taking out ads and spreading the word about our music via social media, we received no more than about 10 orders in the last however many years, and I believe all of the ones we did receive were from friends of the artists.

All of this silence is silence toward painful investments of time and money. Every release was accompanied by intensive research and a thorough promotional campaign including writing personalized cover letters for every recipient, writing biographic and promotional materials, printing and assembling packages, and following each recipient's exacting specifications as to how they wanted the music and materials submitted. The design and maintenance of the website and store ate up monstrous amounts of uncompensated time. And each release -- as well as the website, the vendor's license, the bar code, and pretty much everything else we have -- represents the loss of significant sums of out-of-pocket money, totaling somewhere in the range of $15,000 USD. To be independent, we avoided investments and loans at the beginning, and later, when we tried to raise money from supporters via crowd-funding to help with pressing costs, almost nobody responded. When the records came out, almost nobody bought them. To date, I believe I can say that at least half, maybe more, of all copies that we've unloaded have been gifts, and most of those to people who didn't ask for them.

I shudder to think what financial position I might have been in if I hadn't converted all that money into boxes full of vinyl and plastic that are currently sitting in an attic in Ohio, unwanted by anybody.

And it's especially defeating to realize that much of this work and financial loss was expended in order to pay tribute to my deceased friend, Chris "Karl" Steffey, in the form of making something out of his music, a dream he always had but never got to realize. The profound silence I encountered with regard to the Ram's Head campaign was astoundingly depressing. His "Last of the Lost" LP has sold literally zero copies and none of the attempts I made to promote it, including all the times I had to write up the story of his untimely death and our labor-of-love on his behalf, was answered. I still have more than two albums' worth of Karl's music that I had dreamed of releasing, which may now die with me, precisely the finality I had hoped to avoid for my best friend.

After a lifetime of wanting to do something significant musically, the answer I've received from the world seems to be, definitively, "We don't care."

In fact, the most significant attention the label has received has been from agencies threatening us over our finances. If only music fans had been so interested in my project.

Bastion Recordings is liquidating all its inventory and donating all remaining copies of its releases to the respective artists. The artists may do with these copies whatever they wish. I will be filing termination paperwork with the Ohio Secretary of State before the end of the year. The website and store have already been disabled functionally.

Thanks to those who did support us while we were around.