Interview: The Limousines ‘Kick’ the record label to the curb
October 26, 2012
Written by Nick Veronin
The Limousines are going it alone. The San Jose-based electronic-indie duo of Eric Victorino and Giovanni Giusti have booted the record company execs from their neon stretch Lincoln and grabbed hold of the wheel, so that they may chart their own course through the music biz without anyone from a label breathing down their necks.
The Limos are controlling every aspect of their musical careers now, front man Victorino explains, thanks in no small part to Kickstarter — the social networking site that helps artists, musicians and makers to go directly to their fans and crowdsource funding for a given project.
Through their Kickstarter campaign, Victorino and Giusti raised all the money (and then some) they think they’ll need to produce, promote and tour behind their forthcoming LP, Hush — due out in early 2013. All told, the group raised $75,808 — more than doubling their target budget of $30,000. At least some of that money must have come in thanks to the compelling video they posted at the top of their Kickstarter page:
“We do everything ourselves,” Victorino says, explaining that he and Giusti have always had an independent streak — “we’ve always recorded as much as we can on our own; we’ve always designed everything ourselves; I’m the one who goes to the post office and mails a shirt to you when you buy one off our website.” Given The Limousines mostly-DIY business model, Kickstarter was a natural fit.
“For us, I think it’s the final piece of the puzzle,” the singer says of the site that helped the group finally break free of the recording-contract system, which he believes ended up doing The Limousines more harm than good. “The last time around, the people who controlled the money were making bad decisions.”
According to Victorino, under the band’s last deal with Dangerbird Records, the label’s promotional representative that was shopping their music around to radio stations “didn’t get” their sound, and was subsequently ineffective selling music to program directors. “When you have a song that someone is being paid to take all over the country and show to all the PDs at radio stations, a lot of what that comes down to is whether the guy who is showing that song, believes in that song.”
Now, because The Limousines are the ones controlling money, they are also the ones making the decisions about who shops their single to radio stations, who sends promotional emails to bloggers (“we know who the good PR people are,” Victorino says), and, best of all, they now have the ultimate say and ownership over the finished product. That wasn’t the case when they were under contract and could be told that a given keyboard tone wasn’t working or a drum beat didn’t quite fit, and at the end only owned a percentage of the rights to their recordings.
“If we fall on our face, then it’s our fault,” he says. “We won’t have anyone to blame. And for the rest of our lives we’re going to own the rights to this new music we make.”
It’s hard to imagine The Limousines falling on their faces. These guys clearly have their shit together — both on the creative front and on the business end. Their Kickstarter campaign pulled in nearly $76,000, and, according to Victorino, a large chunk of that money came in the last day and a half of the drive.
He attributes that final push to the group’s decision to offer a very simple, yet highly personalized, incentive for their fans. If person had already donated to the campaign, Victorino and Giusti offered to make a customized hand-written sign, hold it up in front of the camera and post it on Facebook for the whole world to see. The fans apparently loved it. About $13,000 came in the final 36 hours.
“It was kind of an ego boost,” Victorino said. But more than that, “it was also really humbling, because they were showing faith in the band. They haven’t even heard the new album and they’re saying, ‘I want it.’ It was a pretty emotional last couple of days watching that number go up and interacting with people the way we’ve been able to. It was definitely one of the best moments for us. It was great for us to see all that support.”