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‘Micro Record Label’ is the definitive book on the subject of micro record labels.
81 backers pledged £2,614 to help bring this project to life.

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‘Micro Record Labels’ is the definitive book on the subject of running your own micro record label. It is part how-to and part love letter to all the labels which I adore. Above all else, it is a light-hearted, entertaining and beautiful book all about running a tiny record label. The book is fully written and I now need to raise sufficient funds to enable it to be designed immaculately and published.

Hi, my name is James and I run a Micro Record Label called Brian Records. Brian Records is a Micro Record Label started back in 2010 as an offshot of a music club of the same name. It has gone on to release music by people such as Nils Frahm, Peter Broderick, Clem Leek, the Wrens and a host of other incredible artists.  The people at Norman Records (on-line behemoth and all round lovely people) recently said the following about the label:

"Brian Records have long been one of those labels who delight us with their determination to release music in preposterous packaging. From five cassette box sets to minidiscs to 8" lathe cuts to dictaphone tapes they have made an art out of producing objects that you can't play on any normal record player. Long may their obtuse and exotic way of thrusting music into the world continue." 

I think that summarises things pretty well.

So last Christmas, whilst moving logs at my in-laws, I had an epiphany. Literally over the space of several hours, I dreamed up a book on Micro Record Labels. I wanted it to be part how-to, following 8 years of running my own label – and I also wanted it to be a love letter to all the other labels which I know & love, having collected records since the age of 13. I wanted it to be a light-hearted book which makes you laugh. And also a book that tells you a tiny bit of the story of Brian, my label.

You may be thinking at this point that the book isn’t written yet, but in fact you’d be wrong. It turns out that I am a writing machine. In just two months I have written roughly 30,000 words spread across more than 130 pages and featuring over 50 photographs. The reason why I have been able to make this happen now is that in reality I have been mulling over the idea of this book for years, literally years. At Christmas, however, I suddenly realised how I could bring the idea to fruition.    

So, you may be thinking – if you wrote it that quickly, then it’s crap, right?  Hopefully wrong. I asked all of my children to read it and they all told me that they love it. But seriously, I have asked a few trusted friends who know what they are talking about to read it, and they have said things like:

“I really like the book. I like its honesty and also its refreshing style. I like the fact that you’re not attempting to keep any cards on the table – and that you’re attempting to be as transparent as possible, particularly with regards to finances – but also in terms of scope. I would love to think that somebody out there will pick up the mantle and run with it.” – Paul Lockett, who writes for a number of music review websites.

“It’s great, really great. Your style of writing and language use is very you and, as Brian was a manifestation of you in the first place, it’s brilliant that the book reads the same way. The book (like the label) is a labour of love, obsession, attention to detail and what happens when someone cares more about the end result than financial reward.” – Philip Rhoads, who has written for just about every music magazine under the sun for many many years.

So, you know, hopefully it’s OK.

What is a micro label?

This is a great question.  And as the writer of the definitive book on the subject, I’m hoping my book will thoroughly and convincingly answer it – but in a nutshell, it is a record label which releases physical musical artefacts in a run of no more than 200 copies and ideally a lot less.

What’s in the book?

Lots of photos of some amazing releases. Advice on contacting artists. An in-depth look at physical releases. Advice on finances. A review of some of my favourite labels. And a plea to never include compromising photos in any release ever!

What labels are included?

The list is still to be completely finalised as I reach out to different labels I love. However I am delighted to confirm the following labels will feature: Akashic Records, Awkward Formats, Brian Records, Champion Version, Clothbound, Cotton Goods, Dauw, Deception Island, Dinkytown Records, Entr’acte, Flau, Fluid Audio, Hibernate, Mordant Music, Mort Aux Vaches, Oscarson, Reckno, Reverb Worship, Rural Colours, Second Language, Secret Furry Hole, Slaapwel, Sonic Pieces, Spank Me More Records, Standard Format, Static Caravan, Under the Spire, Vintermusic, Winebox Press and Wist Rec. Don't worry if you haven't heard of them. One of the hopes of the book is to introduce people to amazing tiny labels just like these. 

How close are you to finishing?

I am done. Honestly. The writing is complete and is currently being edited & re-edited to remove all those pesky spelling mistakes and typos (apparently its and it’s are two different things, who knew?). The next step is to sort out the graphic design and redo all the photos.

Who else is involved?

The graphic design is hopefully being handled by Steers McGillan Eves Design Ltd, who have worked on a number of high profile projects including the overhaul of the National Trust magazine (and who doesn’t love the National Trust?).

The photos will hopefully be retaken by @knowjack, a professional photographer who has worked with a variety of amazing clients and shares a mutual love of coffee shops. Instagram, website.

What will you do with all the extra money?

To realise this project, I must raise £2000 to fund the printing & binding, touching-up of the photos and resolving minor layout issues. Additional money over-and-above this level enables the book to be further improved. The more I’m able to raise, the more can be invested on the type of printing & binding, the number & quality of the photos and also the layout. Not a penny will be wasted. Of course, this does mean that the more I’m able to raise, the longer the post-writing phase will take. But the results will hopefully speak for themselves. 

Risks and challenges

I don’t see any risk in me writing the book, it’s done.

Regarding the production, the more I raise the higher the standard of design but also the longer it will take.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About US$ 1.27

    1 page PDF summary of the book

    The entire content of the book can be summarised in just a few words. Why not save yourselves both time and money and purchase this one page summary emailed to you.

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    Pledge £10 or more About US$ 13

    PDF of the book

    Get the full book in electronic format emailed straight to your inbox. This will contain all the content for you to enjoy although it does lack the tactile pleasure of a real book.

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    Pledge £15 or more About US$ 19

    Standard Edition of the Book

    This is the full book in all its glory. With over 50 photos and over 130 pages.

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    Pledge £25 or more About US$ 32

    Special Edition Book

    This includes the standard edition of the book plus an additional zine with extra outtakes, conversations with other label owners, an extended interview and more. All contained in a handmade wrap round sleeve. This is for people who don’t want to miss out on anything.

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    Pledge £50 or more About US$ 64

    Deluxe Book in a Box

    Get the full Brian experience! For £50 you will receive the highly limited and very desirable ‘Super Deluxe Edition’ box filled with goodies. It will include a brown card box filled with: an autographed copy of the Special Edition book with a personal message of thanks. A facsimile of the now defunct Brian website. An audio cassette with me reading extracts of the book. A small musical gift with found sounds from yours truly and a reworking of the sounds by Machinefabriek released on 3" CD and 3" record. As ever, it will be a labour of love and limited to just 50 hand-numbered copies. Once they are gone they are gone (sorry).

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    Pledge £60 or more About US$ 76

    Reading Club Special

    Get 5 copies of the standard edition book for the price of 4. Start a reading club. Read the book with 4 friends. Then disband your reading club, start a music club and begin your own Micro Record Label!

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    Pledge £80 or more About US$ 102

    Deluxe Book in a Box with Coffee

    You will need to jump on a train to Bath or Bristol and I’ll buy you a coffee in one of the five coffee shops I have written the book in. I will present you with the Deluxe Book in a Box in person and will happily discuss it with you. You will need to cover your own travel costs and we will need to organise a time that works for both of us.

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    Pledge £100 or more About US$ 127

    Signed manuscript

    Whilst creating this book I have printed off and scribbled all over two manuscripts. Each one is a different step in the process and is a dog eared and crocodile clip bound one off. I will also find a few other interesting things to include. I will also include a copy of the Deluxe Book in a Box.

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    Pledge £250 or more About US$ 319

    Talk plus a Deluxe Book in a Box

    For £250 I will come to where you live (within reason in the UK) and give a talk to you and your friends. The talk will be fun and informative. And I will leave you with a copy of the Deluxe Book in a Box. I am afraid you will need to pay for transport and if you would like me to speak in the evening I will need to be able to get home that evening. If you are interested in this option please send me a question and check location to avoid disappointment.

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    Pledge £500 or more About US$ 637

    Workshop

    For £500 I will come to where you live (within reason in the UK) and give an in-depth, day long, workshop. With luck by the end of the day we will have hopefully, together, made something that looks and feels like a micro record label release. I will bring a copy of the standard edition book for all participants (maximum of 10) and a few bits of stationery; however I will also ask you to supply some things, organise a suitable space and also pay for my transport. If you are interested please pop me a question and check location to avoid disappointment.

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    Pledge £600 or more About US$ 765

    One Off Prototype of MRC/PRB

    Many years ago I made a one off prototype of Mathew Robert Cooper and Peter Ray Broderick's ‘I am Darkness, I am Light’. It includes a hand written envelope (a little tired) and inside is the release as first imagined with one artist on tracing paper (as they appeared in the final release) and the other laser cut into card (pictured on the bottom double page spread). This is my only copy and I will be sad to say goodbye to it. It will also come with the Deluxe Book in a Box (and I am sure I will find some other one-off Brian related treats).

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Funding period

- (30 days)