Two weeks ago, Lemon Grove indie label Syntax Records took a big step towards national exposure by signing an exclusive distribution deal with KOCH. KOCH distributes more than 100 record labels, including Artemis, Bar None and San Diego-based Taang!
Brothers Tim and Steve Trudeau started Syntax in 1999 after they couldn't find a distributor willing to take on their own hip-hop group, Sackcloth Fashion. Since that time, they've added 10 bands to the label and sell between 20,000 and 40,000 copies of each release, according to Tim.
"This put us on the radar of some pretty substantial distribution companies. [But] we wanted to spend a couple years building an infrastructure because even with our moderate success we weren't really 'businessmen,'" he said. "Although I do have an 'office' in Lemon Grove, most of my work is done from a cell phone and a laptop. We are hoping to find new facilities some time this year to accommodate the growth we had."
Trudeau says that all of the artists on Syntax are Christian bands, but he's hesitant to define his label as a "Christian label." The label's biggest sellers are Sackcloth Fashion and Hawthorne, Calif., hip-hop artist RedCloud. The first release under the KOCH deal will be Night Owls 3 , a hip-hop compilation featuring tracks by L.A. Symphony, Pigeon John and RedCloud, as well as San Diego artists MaxOne, Man of War, ArtOfFact, Dirt, Capture the Elusive and Sam Hart.
The most highly anticipated release, though, is RedCloud's next album, Hawthorne's Most Wanted , which boasts cameos by Kurupt, Jayo Felony, Pigeon John, Eek-A-Mouse and The Visionaries. Trudeau expects the album to drop in April or May.
"I think the deal sealer for KOCH was the fact that while we were out of distribution we had built a fairly solid distribution company of our own," Trudeau said. "We had landed several direct deals to some large retail chains. There was even a chain of 400-plus stores that KOCH wasnï¿½t direct with.
"It's been an expensive journey, and hopefully KOCH is the big payoff." www.syntaxrecords.com