Vision…Tone…Partnership. The VizzTone Label Group is a new kind of company. We are not a traditional record label. Actually, our business model is an innovative and already-successful alternative to record labels in today’s and tomorrow’s world. We work in close partnership with our artists’ independent labels and productions to promote, publicize, distribute and market their honest, soulful music worldwide through traditional formats and emerging technologies.
The Mission of the VizzTone label group:
The music comes first. VizzTone only works with artists whose music we love and believe in. The VizzTone “executives” are experienced business survivors but we only partner with artists who create music we fall in love with. Nothing further matters unless the public can say “If it’s on VizzTone, it’s going to take me and shake me.”
Everybody wins — The Artists because we publicize and distribute their music without owning it or messing with it. Established and emerging artists keep more of their CD and digital sales income than they would in traditional label deals. The Audience because we help them find excellent music.
The VizzTone Label Group has already become a respected “brand.” As we build on the success of our first four years of quality releases we will have the opportunity to work with more great artists and earn more of the audience’s respect and confidence.
The Blues is the music we live our lives around but we interpret “Blues” broadly and inclusively. We revere the traditions and language of classic Blues music, but we also release other soulful music that embraces the spirit of the Blues or pushes the envelope to what Blues will be tomorrow. The founders of The VizzTone label group all have credentials in the Blues World that go back many years, but we are the opposite of the Blues Police. We want this music we love alive and growing. Check us out below…
VizzTone/Visionation? Visionation is Chip Eagle’s publishing company, which puts out Blues Revue in magazine form and at bluesrevue.com. Chip is also a founding partner of The VizzTone Label Group. As the world’s most-read Blues magazine Chip works intimately with all aspects of the worldwide Blues Scene – musicians, managers, booking agents, labels, recordings, reviews, feature stories, festivals, clubs, blues societies, international, cruises – and his readers are the audience for the music. Naturally the VizzTone Label Group runs a full-page ad in each issue of Blues Revue, and a prominent ad at bluesrevue.com. Chip Eagle recognizes his journalistic responsibility not to favor the VizzTone Label group in his magazine. We pay for our ads, and reviewers write what they think about the music on our CDs. The fine music of VizzTone label group artists does not need any backroom sweetheart deal to shine.
Why Did We Start VizzTone
In Bob Margolin’s words:
I started my own band in 1980 after seven years in Muddy Waters’ band. I’ve been living and observing the changes in the way music is brought to its audience. For the last fourteen years, I’ve been writing stories for Blues Revue and later BluesWax about the commercial challenges to the Blues music we love, but the challenges apply to all music these days. I tried to ask the hard questions about the very survival of soulful music, now and in the future. I’m excited that I am now part of the answer with the VizzTone Label Group.
Since 2001, I’ve been making home recordings that I felt and enjoyed so much that I knew I wanted to eventually release them. Even while taking the opportunity to release The Bob Margolin All-Star Blues Jam on Telarc in 2003, my home recordings were still developing, and growing towards being born. In early 2006, I told Chip Eagle, who publishes Blues Revue and BluesWax, about my very personal project and he advised me that with his help I could form my own label and put my album out as I wanted to.
Now focused on turning my home recordings into an actual release, I continued to record new songs, tracking at home on Pro Tools with real vintage instruments and amps, and mixing by pro engineer, Mark Williams mixermark.com. Chip and I have a lot of experience and friends in “the business,” but had never put out a commercial release ourselves. We hoped that might be an advantage – a fresh start, perhaps finding a better way to put out an album in today’s and tomorrow’s fast-changing scene. But we were wary of making preventable mistakes, due to our lack of experience being a record company.
Lucky timing blessed us in May, 2006 as our early plans were stumbling along: Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt, founder and president of Tone-Cool Records, had sold his successful label to a larger one, was not involved anymore, and asked his friends “if anyone needed a slightly-used harp player or record company president.” I’m looking forward to the next time Rosy, a brilliant harp player, and I get together on a bandstand, but we sure did immediately need the advice, creativity, experience, and ambition that Rosy brought to us.
We brought Rosy into Steady Rollin’ Records, the label that would put out my album, but everything we were doing and learning for manufacturing, distribution, and promotion inspired all of us to look beyond my album. Exercising Chip Eagle’s kind of creative “visionation,” we saw the opportunity to use our collective experience to form a company that would provide a new way for musicians to reach their audiences, instead of getting their noses slammed in the closing doors of the traditional paradigms.
Now, sales of CD’s from the bandstand and internet downloading have become a major source of income from recordings, but for musicians to succeed, they also need professional manufacturing, packaging design, distribution to the remaining brick-and-mortar stores, and promotion – all targeted at music lovers who might buy the recordings and even go to gigs. Towards bringing everyone together in a way that actually works today, Rosy, Chip, and I began to conceive the “VizzTone Label Group, a flexible and fair company setting up a real partnership with the artists, neither being a traditional label nor just providing them with a business plan.
Personally and professionally, I’ve always valued cooperation over competition. That’s why I love the idea of The VizzTone Label Group and I’m thrilled with the way we marketed our first CD, my “In North Carolina” on Steady Rollin’ Records, and all of those we’ve released since. We are conceiving The VizzTone Label Group to be an appealing alternative for musicians.
The bottom line for success is still, and has always been, musical excellence. No amount of fancy packaging or hype will sell an album with music that doesn’t live up to the push. But finding good music in today’s world is not the problem – translating that good music into commercial success for the artist is a monstrous challenge.
Yes, we hope for progress for musicians, not just career survival while debt builds up. We are experienced, realistic, creative and eager to innovate better ways to deliver music today and tomorrow. And in keeping with the traditions and accomplishments of Rosy’s Tone-Cool Records and Chip’s Visionation, we are looking beyond the Blues World to artists who play and love soulful music, and a vast, worldwide audience who is hungry for it.
When I wrote this for our original website in 2007, we closed with “Look out world, here we come!” As you can see at Vizztone.com, we’re making some progress.