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Floating Records mission is to cultivate a site with talented musicians from a variety of genres. We represent and distribute the best local and independent music. Our commitment is to honor the music and the musician by providing not only an outlet for exposure, but also ensuring that the artists profit directly from their music. When a musician creates, we feel that they should reap the benefits of their hard work. When music is downloaded from the Floating Records site, the artists receives 100% of the the money.
IN THE NEWS...
Lib at Large: The beautiful freedom of Floating Records
By Paul Liberatore, Marin Independent Journal
POSTED: 01/11/13, 12:01 AM PST
FIVE YEARS AGO, Don Zimmer started the aptly named Floating Records on his houseboat in Sausalito. Since then, independent labels have been floating on a rising tide in today's digital music industry.
Since 2010, established indies have been nipping at the heels of major labels, winning a 2 percent increase in the market share of physical and digital music, according to CNN Money.
And Billboard.biz reports that indie bands like Arcade Fire have been walking away with some of the biggest awards at recent Grammy shows, as well as accounting for more and more nominations each year. The most sensational recent example of this trend is Adele, who, you may be surprised to learn, became a superstar on an indie label, XL Recordings.
Zimmer, a 52-year-old former Nasdaq stock trader, and his partner, fellow houseboater Mitchell Danielson, aren't in this to strike it rich or break the next Adele, although you never know what lies ahead.
At the moment, their only desire, Zimmer says, is to discover and promote local musicians and bands.
"I just want to help them to be heard by as many people as possible," he says. "That's how this started and continues to roll along."
Floating Records has a growing roster of 20 artists, including the Tam Valley band Marble Party, singer-songwriter Tracy Blackman and acoustic guitarist Eric Schoenberg, the label's biggest seller.
"His popularity is more widespread than most the local artists," Zimmer says of Schoenberg, a pioneering fingerstyle guitarist. "He's more well known in other parts of the country and the world."
Zimmer released two albums that Schoenberg had recorded years ago, but had long been unavailable. One was originally released on the Folkways label. The other, "New York Sessions," was an unreleased tape that Schoenberg had sitting around gathering dust. That is until Zimmer heard it.
"It's amazing music. I love it," he says. "But no one was hearing Eric's stuff. So I told him, 'Let me help you get it out there if I can.'"
Among acoustic guitar aficionados, Schoenberg is known as a consummate player and guitar maker. He sells his finely crafted instruments at his small shop in Tiburon, where he also presents fingerstyle guitar concerts.
After his old analog recordings were digitized, they were released on Floating Records for Schoenberg's cult following of fans.
"My stuff was sitting around unknown and unavailable, so this has certainly been wonderful for me," he says. "It's been a fantastic opportunity."
Another popular Floating Records album is by the instrumental guitar band the Treble Makers, best known for playing on Saturday mornings for the breakfast and bicycle crowd at Marin Coffee Roasters in San Anselmo. The group already had a finished recording in the can, so all Zimmer had to do was release it on his label and help with distribution and marketing.
"We're a small little operation," Zimmer says. "We're on Facebook, and we have an email list we're constantly adding to. But a lot of it is word of mouth. It's very much a community effort."
After he started the label, Zimmer rented out his houseboat, moved to Mill Valley and set up a small Pro Tools recording studio in a cottage in his backyard.
With some of his musicians, like the recently added singer-songwriter Christina Stroeh, a teacher at Terra Linda High School, he lets them record in his studio without cost.
"It doesn't work for bands getting a record deal or that are on a real record label," he explains. "But there are so many bands and independent musicians looking for places to record. And if I can help them with that, I will. If I like the music, I'll help them distribute it and sell it."
Zimmer, a guitarist, has played in local bands for the past 20 years. He's currently a member of the groups Jelly and Dredgetown, and he has promoted shows by his label's bands at the Seahorse in Sausalito and other venues. On Jan. 29, he's staging a benefit for the Mill Valley Library Foundation at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley.
For the album by Sausalito's Fiver Brown and the Good Sinners, he not only produced and recorded the album but he also played on it. When he pays for albums like that, he'll recover his costs in profits from record sales, if there are any. But by and large, he gets nothing for his services.
"Musicians are always getting nickled and dimed in every aspect of the music business," he says. "I haven't figured out how to make this profitable, but I'm not in it to make money or to take anything away from the artists. My attitude is that I'm going to make this such a beautiful thing for everybody who gets involved. I'm not going to take anything."
That laissez-faire attitude has made Floating Records a topic of discussion around the Zimmer household. Since he runs the label full time, is it a hobby or is it a job?
"If there's money involved, then it's a job, it's not a hobby anymore," he says. "Since it has yet to reap any financial rewards, my wife tells me it's a hobby. She says I need a business plan. Or else how's this going to work? I really don't know, but there's no stopping me. I hate to refer to the Grateful Dead, but they didn't have a plan either. They figured it out as then went. And that's how I'm doing it."
Contact Paul Liberatore via email at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LibLarge.