Get On Down is a record company specializing in deluxe special edition boxsets and reissues. Past releases include special editions and reissues of albums by Nas, Raekwon, The Pharcyde, and Ghostface Killah. Kickshuffle spoke to Get On Down brand manager George Andrinopolous (a.k.a. DJ 7L) about how Get On Down differentiates itself from other labels, and why physical products still matter to music fans.
By Jerry Dawson
So here at Kickshuffle, where music business and technology come together, where does Get On Down fit?
Studying this label reveals that the volatile, technological rat race of the music industry today shares plenty with the album-driven industry of yesteryear. Get On Down, while offering a unique physical products, exists off of a premise on which companies like Stageit, Pledgemusic, Groovebug and Listenup.fm also rely:
The “direct to fan” model works, regardless of the product being delivered.
Get On Down knows that the average music fan won’t buy a limited edition box set, but the hardcore fan will. They know the tastes of these fans and can predict what classic albums will sell, because the company employs people who love to listen to and create hip-hop music.
Companies entering the music tech space today increasingly base their business models off of this same idea. Gather listening/viewing data, use this data to determine fan physical locations/demographics/preferences, and deliver the goods–tickets, merchandise, or other fan “experiences”–far more efficiently and effectively than radio giveaways or passing out flyers to the general public can. When you know who your fans are and you know what they want, business isn’t easier, but it might be simpler.
George Andrinopolous (a.k.a. DJ 7L) – Brand Manager, Get On Down Records
Get On Down showcases a range of incredible acts — current names like Nas and Ghostface Killah, and all-time classic acts like Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. How does the Internet help you to market such a varied offering?
Because our catalog is across the board, we are able to cover a lot of ground without force feeding our projects to the same group of people with each release. The Internet, because it is wide open, give us some room to pick and choose our focus on certain projects. I like to think our approach is very grassroots, and that we built up relationships over the years with other journalists and music sites who we respect and who also champion what we are doing.
Speaking of relationships, can you speak to your relationships with artists and the original labels who released the albums? What kind of input does Get On Down receive from the artist, their label or their artist’s team in the process of designing and releasing products?
Well, all of our releases go through the proper channels and labels, so there is a relationship there. As far as the artist, we always try to reach out and get them involved anyway we can. In most cases, however, it’s just a timing issue. Like when we did Nas’s album he was just coming off a very big album (Life is Good) and at the time he was just busy focusing on that. With artists like GZA & Raekwon, we had managed to link up with them after the release of the GZA Chess Set and the Rae Purple tape release. But outside of that, all the design and the input process is all in-house and we draw inspiration from the original albums.
As a label specializing in box sets and reissues, how do you feel about the strength of the album in the music industry today? What do you guys do to try to promote “the album” as a medium in a world where singles and mixtapes are given away for free everyday?
Personally I like to think the market we reach wants something more than disposable music. That’s not a knock on the current ‘single/mixtape’ culture because in the case of Hip Hop that’s always been the focus – that “on to the next thing” mentality. I just feel now the way technology has sped up the world, that all new music has such a short shelf life. But for the albums we are choosing to do, there is a much bigger story happening. Re-releasing a classic record is one thing, but presenting it in a Wallet (Ol’ Dirty Bastard) or in a Cardboard Pizza Box (Fat Boys) can almost change the way a person will experience the album. I think the audience we reach, and hope to expand on, wants something physical; they want something more detailed to represent how important these albums really are.
How does your label’s marketing strategy differ from a label in the business of breaking new artists?
As mentioned above, music is very immediate and openly available, but most of these artists who have hot records now will be gone by next summer. For a new artist to be successful and stay, I feel they have to truly be an ‘artist’ and have their own voice, their own identity. Most successful artists happening now, like a Kendrick Lamar for example, had built up a strong fan base on his own way before he got with Dre. He had a great foundation to start with. Unfortunately most new artists are missing that.
Our strategy has less to do with the marketing and more with the artists we choose. We take the approach of working with music we personally like and packaging ideas that connect with someone just like us.
Your YouTube channel is unique: it provides some “teaser” clips of tracks and some short commercial-style videos for upcoming releases. Why have you chosen this approach on YouTube?
In most cases when we do those videos the actual product hasn’t been revealed just yet. So the teasers give hints as to what is coming and creates a bit of anticipation. We try to make each package unique so overtime people are wondering what’s next.
What’s on the horizon, both for Get on Down and DJ7L?
For Get on Down, we just plan on putting out more quality releases. We are very excited about what we have in store for later this year so we are focused on that for now. Unfortunately that’s all I can say about that (laughs).
As for me, I just did the Czarface album with Inspectah Deck (Wu Tang) & Esoteric, featuring Ghostface, Action Bronson, Mr. Mfn Exquire, Vinnie Paz, Roc Marciano and a few more. That album was honestly the most fun I have ever had producing and am looking forward to working on another one.