Industry Profile – Eclipse Records Chris Poland
Label CEO Gives Some Insight into his Label
Interview By Keith McDonald
Eclipse Records may not be a household name to many, but the label has
been making some noise in the industry. Riding the success of the band
Mushroomhead, the label has been gaining some respect as a label that is
on the rise. Despite the fact that their biggest star has jumped ship to
the powerhouse Universal Records Group, Eclipse has been making strides
with newer acts that include Disarray, among others. I had the
opportunity to speak with the label’s CEO Chris Poland who gave me a
little look into what Eclipse Records is all about. You can check out
their website at www.eclipserecords.com.
How did you get started in the music business?
I used to play guitar in metal bands growing up, but just to be clear
about it, none of those bands was named Megadeth!
How did Eclipse Records start?
Eclipse started in 1995, and we incorporated in 1997. We got our start
an underground compilation label, before we started putting our CDs, we
were doing compilation cassettes of different unsigned metal bands from
around the world. We must have done about 6 or so before we got into
working with individual bands. As it developed, I got hired as the
Marketing Director for Big daddy Music Distribution in 1998, they also
picked up Eclipse for distribution then. While working there, I got to
a lot of labels in the industry, (not just at Big Daddy, but at other
Distribution companies that I made friendly with) putting out too much
product and none of them really focused on creating any demand for the
band's music, many labels operate on the principle of throwing a lot of
bands at the wall, and only chasing what sticks. I decided I didn't want
operate in that manner, only work with one or two bands at a time, focus
creating the demand and do things right.
Who is currently on your roster? Who has been the most successful?
Currently Disarray is our top priority. We're negotiating several deals
with other bands now, lining up the next project to work after Disarray.
The most successful band we put out so far was Mushroomhead, we have
soundscanned over 60,000 units since Eclipse released the XX record in
2001. We're expecting Disarray to do even better.
How did Universal get Mushroomhead from your label?
Due to the current legal situation between Eclipse and Mushroomhead, I
can't comment much other than saying that we have an existing contract which the band signed giving us the exclusive rights to the XX record.
band basically breached their contract with Eclipse in order to give the
record to Universal. Since Universal is so much bigger than Eclipse,
become a story of David vs. Goliath.
Who distributes your label? Do you find it hard to get your CDs into
Currently we are distributed by Big Daddy Music Distribution. They have
never really experienced any problems getting Eclipse product into the
major chains, they have even managed to get the mass merchandisers
Wal-Mart, Hot Topic) to pick up our releases. Placement in the major
is based upon two things. Do you have the $$ to place the product
all shelf space in the major chains is essentially bought in the form of
listening posts, endcaps, etc..) and have you, as the label, created
enough demand for your product that the buyer is aware that kids are
to be looking for your releases in their stores. If the buyer doesn't
the demand, even if you are willing to pay them to take your product,
will not take it, because every store has limited shelf space and they
to turn over their inventory quickly. It's essential to market the
to the buyers, as well as the consumers. Nah, haven't had any problems
What role do the "mom&pop" stores play in getting your releases out
The mom and pop stores are essential in reaching the people that buy
music there. There are basically two types of consumers, those that shop
chains, and those that shop at independent accounts. Based on the most
recent NARM survey (National Association of Record Merchandisers)
independent stores account for a much smaller share of the market, but
still a very important group because they tend to be the people that
friends about what music they like. Word of mouth is essential for
a grassroots marketing campaign.
Do your artists tour? How expensive is it to get bands on the road?
Yes, all the bands we work with tour. It's part of the process that we
to qualify signing a band. Getting bands a good tour is more of a
networking thing, who the band's booking agent has connections with is
most important factor.
How do you find new artists? How many artists do you sign a year?
Eclipse receives about 25-50 unsolicited demo packages in the mail each
week. Many of the bands are new and show a lot of potential, but lack
experience needed to be signed. The best prospects come from friends
work at other companies in the music business that we hire We come
some really good bands from the folks at Concrete Marketing and EMI
Does Eclipse have a substantial back catalog?
The back catalog of Eclipse is not that big, it's about 12 titles, not
counting the stuff we have discontinued and the stuff that was released
cassette prior to 1998.
What advise do you have for an unsigned artist?
Develop a following locally before you try to get signed. It's a smaller
market to attack, it's easier. If a label sees that a band can develop a
following in their own area, then the label will think it can spread
following to other markets. Write music that comes from the heart, not
what you hear on the radio or what's currently "in". Make sure there's a
barcode on your CD. Most manufacturers will give you one. That way if
put the CDs in stores on consignment, the labels can look up the titles
soundscan and see that the band really is selling. Don't put your demo
What's the future for Eclipse Records?
To continue to put out great metal bands that people need to know about,
and to educate the target audience that the product exists. Disarray is
next messiah for metal. Anyone who wants a free sampler CD, check out
www.eclipserecords.com/freestuff.htm to find out how to get one. Free
that doesn't suck, how can you pass up that offer, huh?