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The Red Chord’s Guy Kozowyk on His Label Black Market Activities

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Black Market Activities, the label owned and operated by The Red Chord vocalist Guy Kozowyk, has partnered with Good Fight Entertainment, the new label/management firm run by former Ferret Music guru Carl Severson. Black Market Activities was previously distributed by Metal Blade, The Red Chord’s former record label. However, the switch was not due to any sort of bad blood: it simply made more business and economic sense in today’s climate.

“The entire industry has changed very rapidly,” Kozowyk recently told Noisecreep. “Black Market Activities and several other Metal Blade-distributed labels had our deals set up a long time ago, and in a way that no longer made sense. Metal Blade is a great label and was an amazing distributor for us, especially considering how early in the life of my label they got involved.”

“After exploring several distribution options, the Good Fight scenario seemed to make the most sense for everyone involved,” Kozowyck continued. “I have known those guys through Ferret, the management division, and even playing shows with Carl and Nora way back in the day. Plus this kept us [working with distributor] RED, which I wholeheartedly believe is the best metal distributor out there today. It’s very comfortable and exciting to finally work with those guys on a more extensive level.”

Kozowyck also revealed a bit of exclusive news: The Red Chord are currently unsigned free agents. “As for The Red Chord, we are currently not under contract with the Blade. You guys are the first ones to ask, so there’s your breaking news,” he said with a laugh.

The Red Chord news aside, here’s what Black Market Activities has coming down the pike. Engineer and Khann are the first releases from BMA, due out June 7th. “In my opinion both bands have delivered their best albums to date,” Kozowyck said. “Ed Gein, too. I have been praying they’d get it together and do this record for years if for no other reason besides wanting to listen to more music by them. I think Fit For an Autopsy will have a lot of heat based on their style and the people involved: notably Nate Johnson of Premonitions of War, formerly of Through the Eyes of the Dead and Dead Water Drowning; Will Putney, who is the renowned producer at the Machine Shop; and Pat Sheridan, formerly of Shattered Realm and Nothing Left to Mourn.”

Elder statesmen Today is the Day will also release material via BMA. “There is so much influence and history to Steve Austin and crew, and as a fan of the band, having [Converge's] Kurt Ballou produce the record is just magical. Steve produced Converge’s ‘When Forever Comes Crashing,’ so I thought it was amazing to have the two switch roles,” Kozowyk said.

Kozowyk also wants fans keep their eyes open for a Gaza side project called Birdeater. He also revealed that the label “will be pushing a lot more limited run colored vinyl and albums than we have at any point before, too.”

As an indie musician in an indie band running an indie label, Kozowyk has certainly felt the effects of the economic downturn. “My approach to BMA has thankfully always been conservative, which has really helped shelter me from being crippled by [the bad economy]. A few years back when sales got considerably better for a minute, I saw a lot of labels throwing a lot of money around chasing bands in the hopes of finding the next big thing and rapidly increasing their overhead. I had a hunch it wouldn’t be sustainable. Everything collapsed as quick as it blew up and now businesses can’t downsize fast enough.”

Kozowyk said that he “refused to chase and kept clear of the band bidding wars. I think
that saved me overall.” Still, despite his successes, it’s not all sunshine and roses. “There’s nothing glorious [about] running your company off a smart phone and Starbucks internet for a good chunk of the year. And I never got the sick downtown office I always wanted,” Kozowyk mused. “But I was always able to keep up with studio fees, ads, and general expenses. It’s pretty common to see the one or two-man label operations again, so things have come full circle.”

Kozowyk also pointed out one very important fact that defines the creative business nowadays. “If you’re running a niche label, band, web site, or magazine, you have to be doing it for the love because even when things are really good, your means will probably only afford you the opportunity to live humbly at best,” he said.

Watch the video for ‘Black Santa’

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