Wienering The Record Industry: an Interview with Danny Gonzalez
Wiener Records—a subsidiary of the garage rock label Burger Records—is making radical waves in the music industry. For as low as $250, any artist can purchase 100 tapes with full-color inserts and access to Wiener Records’ promotional and distribution machine. It almost sounds too good to be true, but Wiener Records Head Wiener Danny Gonzalez says that the purpose behind the label is to “make everything much more accessible.”
Wiener Records is notable for its use of tapes as a prefered format for their distributed material. “They’re very cheap and easy to make. A standard run of tapes will cost about $200, compared to a standard run of 250 vinyl, which costs about $1,000. That’s quite a difference in prices,” Gonzalez says.
Additionally, “The turnaround right to making them [tapes], actually just takes about two weeks, where vinyl could take up to a month or two months.” That being said, Wiener Records is interested in putting out vinyl releases and is actually about to release its first vinyl for Americana band LP3 and The Tragedy. The LP3 and the Tragedy record will also commemorate Wiener Records’ 100th release.
Despite the seemingly attractive prices for Wiener Records’ services, there is a glaring question: Why should bands pay a label to press their material in a day and age when anyone can use the Internet to promote their own material through Bandcamp or YouTube? “Anyone should be able to put their music out on some kind of tangible item,” Gonzalez says. “Everywhere, you’re going to have someone saying check out my Tumblr, check out my Bandcamp. That’s all good, but eight out of 10 times, no one’s going to go to your Bandcamp, in the sense that they want it then and now. If you give someone a tangible item like a 7” or a vinyl LP or a tape, they’re more inclined to listen to it.”
Wiener Records was established in 2011, and is the brainchild of Burger Records’ Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard to meet the overwhelming demands of bands seeking to put out material through their label. Wiener Records handles business differently than Burger Records. The difference is that Wiener Records requires that bands pay upfront for the pressing of their own material, and in turn, bands would have the same access to promotional and distribution services like that of their big brother label.
To meet the different needs of bands, there are different price points for numbers of tapes that a band may want produced. For example, prices can be as low as $250 for 100 tapes or as much $650 for 500 tapes—not including shipping. The interesting thing, though, is that no matter which price point one chooses, everyone gets the same amount of promotion.
This means that Wiener Records utilizes various forms of social media to promote the bands and distributes the material through Burger Records pop-ups and other related outlets. Having needed an appropriate name for this venture, Gonzalez says, “[We called] it Wiener Records in the sense that anyone can do it—all that they have to do is pay for the pressing, so everyone’s a wiener!”
So far, the reception toward Wiener Records’ do-it-yourself business model has been mostly positive. “Bands are taking advantage of it and they’re really using it full force—especially a lot of bands in the middle of nowhere who would have no real access or ways of getting to the bigger cities and playing shows,” Gonzalez says. “They’re really using our services to try and get their name out there as much as possible.”
However, Gonzalez does point out that there are some bands who are not in favor of how Wiener Records does business. Those bands voicing dissent would rather not pay for their own pressing: Rather, they want the label to cover that end of production. Gonzalez is quick to point out that this is an OK viewpoint, as that’s how labels like Burger Records operate—but if bands want their material here and now, Wiener Records is the way to go.
Gonzalez is particularly stoked for a couple of new releases. Apart from the LP3 and the Tragedy vinyl release, he recommends the surf-gaze band Thigh High Tye Dye’s self-titled release and the indie-pop singer/songwriter Haily Wojcik’s Book of Beasts. The tapes are available now, and if readers are interested in getting ahold of Wiener Records—for its tapes or services—they can check out wienerrecords.org or any Burger Records–sponsored festivals or related functions.
It would seem that Wiener Records is here to ensure that anyone should have access to physical copies of their band’s recorded material, and that it is produced in an affordable way. So remember, kids: You, too, can be a wiener, if that is what you’d truly like to be.