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Running a Small Record Label During a Pandemic!

By Paul D Houston

To all reading this, I hope you are safe and healthy, but I am sure some of you are not, because life and the world is fucking us over in all kinds of ways.

So, the pandemic has hit the economy pretty hard, which means a lot of small businesses are taking a hit and Rock Hand Records was definitely hit. Our sales dropped off a cliff around May of this year, and only trickled in since. Even the digital side saw a drop in plays, downloads and overall listens. You would think the digital side would have ramped up, with people listening even more to Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and etc, but with our label, that was not the case.

We released three albums, from three separate bands right as the Pandemic hit and while we saw a solid bit of ordering at the initial point of release on two of the three, the sales on all three just never continued once the pandemic and poor economy set in. And in the following 5 months sales were down across the board by a tremendous amount.

Fortunately, we don't, as a label, overspend on each release, and while we definitely lost money during the pandemic, we didn't kill ourselves. We generally order small from the manufacturer and then keep our marketing budget to a modest amount and only spend on tried and true markets, like social media and our usual promotional outlets.

But, we've been able to hang in there and we have two new releases coming out within the next month and reception for both the Slut Magic "Trauma Queen" album and the Babel Map "Raw Tomato, My Heart" album has been very solid. Not as good as pre-pandemic responses, but definitely enough to give us hope that if 2020 does pass without some apocalyptic event or Trumpian totalitarian regime crushing our fragile American democracy, we will survive to do more great releases in 2021.

Stay Tuned!

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