Interview: NOFX Guitarist & Wife Giving Bands a Platform
The music industry is not a stagnant thing. It’s constantly shifting and reinventing itself, leaving major labels and those rallying against them to find new ways to become known as artist-friendly.
One on the latest entrants into the ever-evolving industry is Cyber Tracks, a Los Angeles-based “boutique label” helmed by long-time NOFX guitarist Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta and his wife Jennifer. Initially formed as a way to give Aaron a foundation for which he could record solo work, and independent artists upon, Cyber Tracks has evolved into a company that’s goal is to be that record label that is not perceived as labelly at all.
“Not to bash other labels, but many of them, especially majors, are not very fair and they take a lot of [an artist’s] money,” says Jennifer.
“We’re not trying to follow any model of any other label,” adds Aaron. “We’re coming up with our own way. We decide with the band how they want to [work with us] and how everyone is going to be happy. We just want to be business partners with the bands and help them. Our motto is ‘For Artists, by Artists.’”
This vision really began to take shape once the Abeyta’s were introduced to a band called Margate. They soon opted to not only record the group’s album, but also release it. The bonus in this was that the members of Margate had experience working for major record labels, and were thus able to provide Cyber Tracks with further knowledge regarding how they could go about their business.
The couple states that no two Cyber Tracks deals are the same, as the goal is to ensure that those on both sides of the table are happy with the terms that are agreed upon. Jennifer says that all bands they go into business with must have a willingness to tour, while other mainstay terms of working with them includes splitting the royalties and ownership of the masters 50/50, and allowing each band to hold onto their tour and merchandise revenue.
“We’re doing things the way things should be. We should be business partners with the band, and split the profits,” says
Aaron. “I’ve been on both ends of the business. Even before I joined NOFX, I was doing major deals with major labels. Then I got into NOFX and thought, ‘this is so cool, this is the independent way. We’re able to make a living and call all the shots.’ I’ve liked that so much more than dealing with a major label.”
The Abeyta’s say business is good and busy, with Aaron currently recording/producing the company’s latest signing, Warner Drive, on a daily basis. Cyber Tracks also backs “punk rock supergroup” Implants, a band made up of members from Strung Out, Pulley, The Tank, and Ten Foot Pole. Another signing is close to being confirmed, as Jennifer’s inbox continues to fill up with bands hoping for their shot.
“We want to be unique and set a really good example that not all labels are bad,” says Jennifer. “There are still good people out there that really want to focus on good music and put out good music…and not just try to make millions of dollars.”
Stay tuned to Riffyou.com for a NOFX feature with Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta.
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