City Paper is not for tourists
Sure, the death of D.C.’s Sockets Records could symbolize the DIY music world’s gradual retreat from experimental music. But it could also just corroborate a truism already tattooed on the frontal lobe of every indie-imprint owner: Running a label still costs too much money, even in the age of online music distribution. When founding owner Sean Peoples announced in November that he planned to put his eight-year-old label to bed, he cited the high cost of pimping bands in a crowded market. “The amount of money needed to compete with similar indie labels…is staggering,” he wrote. “Promotion and publicity are driving a lot of the profits around bands. And, if you don’t have the money, the serendipity that comes with bands rising to the top via their own grit and hard work seems like a vanishing prospect.” None of Sockets’ bands—most of them off-kilter, D.C.-based rock, electronic, and hip-hop acts—have “gone big,” which wasn’t necessarily the point of putting out their records anyway. But eight years of throwing money at bands that may or may not go anywhere? You’d want to think about finding a new hobby, too.