Guilt By Association Records: Where the Artists Make 100%



What Just Happened?

In 1994, Phil Circle went into the studio to make a third or fourth attempt at an album. On this occasion, he took a full band he’d been playing shows with and four original songs in for four days, and accomplished an EP titled Phil Circle: Four Days Later. As he used this initial recording to promote the band and book more shows, his commitment to schooling at Columbia College began to interfere with his ability to manage a full band. He went solo for about a year while attending constant classes, working production for The Chicago Jazz Ensemble, teaching. Then he turned to his old drummer and harmonica player, and a new bass player, and suggested another shot at it. One evening while hosting a jam at Chicago’s old Bop Shop, Phil looked around and he had ten people on stage with him, including horns, fiddle, keys, male and female vocalists. The band Guilty was born.
Phil then set about producing a full album. With his newly developed knowledge of the changing record industry based in extensive research in school, he dared what few did at the time; He did all his own managing, booking, and promoting. A couple of things spurred this decision. Phil knew he’d be hard put to define his overall style to the satisfaction of any record label. He also felt he might do better on his own, as far as maintaining artistic freedom. Then he read a blurb about this little known artist who’d been producing her own cassettes, and now CDs, on her own label called Righteous Babe Records. He had stumbled upon one of the earliest pieces of national press for the now iconic Ani Difranco. He thought she was on to something. Guilt By Association Records was born.
Nowadays, in order to get signed at all, an artist has no choice but to be an independent. Even if you’d like a major record deal, the labels want to see that you’re serious and have a sense of the business before they’re willing to risk millions of dollars on you. And they do risk millions of dollars. According to RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) stats, two million dollars goes behind every major act. There are 7500 major label acts. Additionally, quite frankly, these labels have little idea what people are looking for. It’s easier for them if you’ve already taken the risks to some degree. You’ve in essence done their marketing research. To them, you’re a product. So you better present a quality one.
Guilt By Association Records is designed to mentor aspiring or existing independent artists, to help them better understand the nature of this ever-changing industry. Through their cooperative work with other artists involved here, they can learn the ropes and develop the kind of following they need. From there, they can move in whatever direction they see fit. We are a record label co-op, for lack of a better description. Additionally, we’re of the thought, or feeling for that matter, that with our collective creative minds and hearts, we may tap into something completely new and different. Or we may simply restructure an ailing industry, to the benefit of ourselves and the listeners we hold so dear. Join us. Contact us to find out how.