Heart of Steel: Interviews


Interview With
Paul Woolnough of Knight Records

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Knight Records is a new independent label based in California, headed by artist manager Paul Woolnough. They just released former Great White vocalist Jack Russell’s new solo album and will also be releasing a Great White live album in the near future. An upstart label with a lot of experience, Knight Records is ready to give new artists the much needed attention major labels seem to lack. I recently had the opportunity to speak with founder and President who gave me some information about his new venture.



How did you get started in the music business?

Started at 15 as a drummer in England, then promoted and owned venues. Later on moved into tour management, which developed into artist management over a period of time.



How did Knight Records start?

When we started the label, it was for the purpose of giving the artist and us as management control of the situation. The major label situation that Jack (Russell) was in at the time that we started work on his new record was not ideal for what we wanted to achieve. We were fortunate enough that the person, who had the ability to change that, was kind enough to let Jack out of that contract. A rare act indeed with major labels nowadays that we are very grateful for.



Who is currently on your roster?

Jack Russell, is our priority at this time. We also have the recording of Great White's last ever show due for release in November. Deeds (Formerly Dirty Deeds) who are produced by Steve Harris from Iron Maiden and we also have a couple of development situations in the works.



Who handles the distribution for your label? Have they done an adequate job getting records into stores?

Burnside Distribution is the current distribution company for Knight Records. They are a very aggressive independent company and they are doing a good job at product placement as Jack's career develops. Distribution at this level is not about saturation - it's about building relationships with retail, while raising public awareness of your products.



How much does your label rely on "mom & pop" stores?

Out of the initial shipments, probably 40% went out to mom & pops. We don't rely on them, but they are an important part of the equation and are vital to sales figures.



How important are "mom & pop" stores to you?

Any outlet for retail that is willing to stock, promote and sell our product is now and always will be important to us.



I see you are also a management company. Is there any conflict of interest between bands on your label and the ones you also manage?

No, in fact this was something that we looked at very closely and with the artist/label partnership that we drafted. The label and artist share the profits equally from the sale of their CD's, so as a management company, it is in our interests that the artist makes as much money from the deal as the label does. It actually holds many advantages: the management is not battling with the label, which unfortunately is happening more and more as the majors become more corporate and less creative. Also there are no politics holding up decisions. We have a great team of people working for and with us and everybody's input (including the artist's) is what decides the actions we take as a label. The bottom line is that if we fail, we can only blame ourselves.



How do you feel about the current state of the music business? Better or worse?

Rather than better or worse, I would just say it is constantly changing. Some days it's the best business in the world, other days the worst. I wake up each morning and wonder, which it will be today.



How does MP3's and downloading affect record sales for your label?

MP3's and downloading impact your sales what ever you do. Can I say I agree with it? No, but also to an extent I understand why. Cassettes, videotapes, mini discs, MP3's, the companies that developed this technology, also own the major labels, so they created the monster themselves. I think that if a person is a fan of a band, then they should buy the CD, but if the ability is there to burn a CD or MP3, will you or won't you? It's a moral thing. For the record, I don't!



What genres of music will you sign?

Stan Layton, who consults for the label (Ex Vice-President of sales at Chrysalis and RCA) put it best "We are a record label - we sell records not genres.” We are open to all formats and genres as long as its good.



Do your bands tour? How difficult is it these days to tour?

Yes the bands do tour - Jack Russell is on the road right now in the US. Deeds are playing some dates in Europe. Again, it is what you make it. So many people sit back and expect the tours to come along - you have to go and get them.



What's the future for Knight Records?

Hopefully releasing great music around the world. We have licensing agreements with companies in Europe, Asia and other territories. Our goal is to build relationships around the globe and allow our artist's to make music that people will be able to buy for many years to come.


Website: www.knightrecords.com