Read this article: Why Rilo Kiley left the Saddle Creek Records family by Tim McMahan

In this article from The Reader, Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel is interviewed about the band's choice to leave Saddle Creek. I think Rilo Kiley is a good band, I caught some of their live show Thursday night and Bimbo's was packed. But their label-hopping strategy makes me want to get on my soapbox, so here goes.

If RK wanted to leave Saddle Creek like they left Barsuk, to hop to a major (Warner Bros.), it's their prerogative to do so. I just want them to admit that that's what they've done! Enough with this 'we started our own indie label' nonsense! "Brute/Beaute" is not an actual record label. It's just a ploy to try and retain some of their indie cred.

In the article, Boesel cites the "limitations inherent to indie record labels" as one of their reasons for leaving Saddle Creek, more specifically an indie's inability to get the band on commercial radio. But with the type of buzz Rilo Kiley was building (with the help of Barsuk and Saddle Creek), and considering the quality of the record, I bet that Saddle Creek could have gotten them onto commercial radio without having to play the major label throwing-hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars-to-radio game. According to the article, KROQ just added The Postal Service (Sub Pop), Death Cab For Cutie (Barsuk) and The Faint (Saddle Creek) to their playlist.

“[The people at Saddle Creek are] definitely crusaders with high morals and ethics, trying to do this thing for the greater good. For some that’s the right approach. For us it wasn’t. We’re trying to do something similar, but in a different way." [says Boesel]
This is why I'm such a supporter of Saddle Creek and the bands who remain on their roster. It's one thing to do something 'for the greater good' when no one's paying attention. But to stick to your ethical guns after all the money and offers come calling, that's the true test of integrity. And integrity is what we need more of in the music business, in business in general. I'm not saying RK doesn't have integrity -- they just have a different agenda.

RK signing to a major is not really that big of a deal. It happens all the time. I'm just disappointed that by leaving Saddle Creek, they're giving up the opportunity to be an agent of change in the music industry. They were in the position that very few bands reach: an indie label band poised to make it big enough to challenge commercial radio, concert venues, video outlets, etc. to work on indie terms, thus contributing to the slow breakdown of the old guard, of the wasteful, exclusionary practices that have been set up by the major label dinosaurs.

At least by taking Tilly and the Wall and Now It's Overhead out on tour, RK is showing its support to Saddle Creek and Team Love. And some new RK fans will discover Saddle Creek and Barsuk when they go searching for back catalog. It just seems outdated to me to use such strong indies as mere stepping stones in a larger plan. It was a strange enough move to jump from Barsuk to Saddle Creek, but that should have been warning that another jump was coming. As bigger bands choose to stay put on their indie labels, those labels can grow into being able to offer their bands everything they need or want, with the unique added security of artistic freedom and longevity.

(Stepping off soapbox). What do you think? Please leave comments if you have them.

Read this article too: "A Small New Future" by Alec Hanley Bemis in the LA Weekly.
“The record industry discovered some time ago that there aren’t that many people who actually like music. For a lot of people, music’s annoying, or at the very least they don’t need it. They discovered if they could sell music to a lot of those people, they could sell a lot more records.”

—T-Bone Burnett

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