Chuck Livid Says, "People Simply Do Not Support Independent Artists Nowadays"
With the death of Boca label Livid Records, South Florida mourns the loss of a significant appendage in our local music scene. If Churchill's is the heart, then Livid's like a foot or something, a foot that's wearing brightly colored Converse lo-top, if you will (see above).
Founder Chuck Livid has toiled for the past six years, pressing vinyl, promoting bands, going to shows, and dishing out a lot of his own cash. For him, the time has come to release Livid's final album. In our conversation with the entrepreneur, it seems he is heartbroken about the state of affairs in South Florida's creative scene. We can't disagree with him that more support would keep all of us better afloat and, possibly one day, thriving. So, consider his words as you read on. Learn what happened to Livid Records and what Chuck'll be doing next.
New Times: After you wrap up all your projects with Livid Records, what are you going to focus your time on next?
Chuck Livid: I'm going to do a solo noise project that I've been putting to the side for a while now. I've also been considering writing a book about my experiences juggling two personas: A professional at a day job and an entrepreneur by night. But first, I'm going to take a trip to either Portland or San Diego and clear my mind.
Can you tell me a little about the music you yourself will be making?
I want to make a noise record with some friends. It's going to borrow heavily from Glenn Branca and really early Sonic Youth. This has been a dream of mine for years. Just waves of noise and hypnotic drums. I'd like to follow that record with a very personal solo album. I feel like I have to cleanse my mind from a lot of stuff. It makes sense to do it first sonically and then lyrically.
What were the main like three reasons you decided to stop doing Livid?
Support! Support! Support! People simply do not support independent artists nowadays. They can say they do all day long, but I'll stick to facts; I know, because I've seen our sales dwindle for almost 6 years straight. I talk to other labels and it's all the same. We live in a very "throw away" society. Everything's dispensable. I'm not going to blame things like illegal downloads, because that's just an easy target. At the end of the day, people can make a choice and do the right thing. So a digital file isn't the cause of lack of support. It's simply flaky people.
It's really a simple equation: Studio time plus gas to play your city plus production -- vinyl, DL cards, CDs, etc. -- plus advertising plus mailing copies to the media for reviews. It equals money. If the idea of creative people making a living doing what they love appeals to you, then buy their music. Tweeting or sharing something on Facebook is cute, but it alone doesn't pay the bills. People have to be pro-active. A well-studied and much written about topic that highlights my point was the Kony 2012 experience from earlier this year. Sure, millions of people now know who Kony is and what he's done, but at the end of the day it changed absolutely nothing.
Was there anything that could have kept you guys going? Anything that could have changed in the universe to keep Livid alive?
It falls back to support. I feel I could've done this until the day I died. Lately I've been really bummed out about how much people don't care. So, if Livid Records has to be a martyr to bring light to how bad the independent music scene is doing, then so be it.
I do want to make another quick point here. I'm told a lot that record labels are irrelevant today. I disagree wholeheartedly. You have to work so much harder today than ever before to get noticed. Just the fact that anyone -- and I do mean ANYONE-- can release a record makes it that much harder for a band to clear the pile of e-mails and stuffed envelopes at a music blog or magazine for review. There's a lot to be said about having a record label's name on the return address of that envelope or as the sender in that e-mail. It tells a journalist right off the bat, "Okay, well somebody's thrown money into this. I guess I'll listen to it," and at worst it betters your odds. Doing all this is literally the equivalent of having a full-time job. And if you're serious about your music, then focus on that, not on having to worry about obtaining a marketing degree to sell ten records.
What will you miss the most and the least about working on Livid Records?
The two things I'll miss most are listening to a CD or an MP3 or going to a show and thinking to myself, "People need to hear this. I have to put this out." And the other would be holding the final record in my hands.
I won't miss stuffing orders and press copies.
Is there any hope for the South Florida music scene?
I'm an optimist, but shit's getting really bad for bands and those who produce them. Before all this, bands could evolve musically, because they had wiggle room due to being able to make a living doing what they love. Now, they have to spend endless amounts of energy trying just to get you to buy their record or go to their show. This is bigger than just music. It's happening in journalism. It's happening in art. It's happening in non-profits. Our current society is to blame. You, reader, can change this trend and keep the things you love alive.
You're closing out with Bulletproof Tiger, can you tell us why?
Kris Huesby (singer/bassist) of Bulletproof Tiger was the drummer of the first punk band I played in called The Slops back in 1997-98. So having his current band be the final release on Livid Records brings everything full circle. The new Bulletproof Tiger 7" can be streamed online.
Personally, I couldn't have asked for a better conclusion.