Are you in an aspiring band? Superdreamer Records cofounders Spencer Morgan and Eric Gussler want to know what you won’t do to make it big. Won’t play a certain venue? Great. Refuse to create band merch? Fantastic. Reject interviews with magazines? Awesome.
“I don’t even care what it is,” Morgan said. The partners just want the bands they work with to have a line they won’t cross in order to be successful. It’s all part of the independent, art-first spirit that’s near to the new label’s heart. They aren’t aiming to get rich – Morgan even looks at that as a sign of personal failure – but are trying to provide a platform to put out records they enjoy that might otherwise go unheard, or even unmade.
Superdreamer began operation at the beginning of the year with guidance from Columbus Discount Records veteran Adam Smith, who has also recorded songs for Morgan’s band Psychic Wheels. Thus far, Morgan and Gussler have distributed releases from Comrade Question, Brat Curse, and Psychic Wheels, as well as Everything Is Real by Ipps on September 30 (see page 26 for more about Ipps).
A relationship with a smaller label like Superdreamer can be a fundamental step for young bands because labels often know contacts in places that bands may not have any name recognition yet, like out-of-town radio stations, record stores, blogs, and print publications. “We’ll sell Ipps records in stores in Cleveland because they like the Psychic Wheels,” Gussler said. It’s a tiny advantage, he explained, but an advantage nonetheless.
“Our goal is to never put out another record by any of the bands,” Morgan said. “And I know that sounds crazy, but we’re not tryin’ to lock people into contracts and then sell those contracts to larger labels, so there’s no reason, you know what I mean?” And if the band goes on to sign with a more established label like Merge or Siltbreeze, that’s ideal – both for the band and for the credibility of future Superdreamer releases. It’s an ethos they share with Smith, a mission to promote local rock bands they like that have never had the opportunity to release music through a label.
The Superdreamer founders pointed to the oligopoly of major record companies, the lack of developmental deals for artistic, weird, or outsider bands, and the commercialization of mainstream pop music as diminishing for the creative approach to actually making music. “Business and art don’t really mix well,” Gussler summed up. As a guitarist and lead vocalist for his own band, Morgan empathized with the predicament of musicians who want to create but also must sell products to survive.
“I never wanted to start a label,” he said. “I just want to write the songs and play them, you know? I don’t wanna muddy it up with like, ‘Are we gonna break even?’ Those are two words I never want to hear.”
But they face the same reality as the bands, and they too want to contribute a little more of the music they enjoy to the world.
“[The goal] is always just to put out another record,” Morgan said.
“As many good records as we can,” Gussler continued, “before we run out of money.”