“It's important to get your stuff heard by industry people but it's equally, if not more important, to find fans who have made it doing the stuff you're doing.” — Chris Manak [0:25:19]
Founding a record label is no easy feat and making it not only survive but thrive for over 20 years is truly awe-inspiring. Stones Throw Records is one of the most prominent independent record labels, having helped develop artists like Madlib, J Dilla, MF Doom, and Anderson Paak, to name a few. Chris Manak, AKA Peanut Butter Wolf, is the Founder of this prolific label, and he joins us on the show today. Along with being at the helm of Stones Throw, Chris is also a DJ and producer.
Having been exposed to a range of music early in his life, Chris has always had an appreciation for many genres. Many of his young memories have music woven into them, and it is clear these moments cemented Chris's passion. Along the way, he has also been lucky enough to have some positive influences who have been generous with sharing what they have, and Chris now approaches sharing in this same fashion.
“Making beats and making tracks was what really got me out of [mourning Charizma's death]. It was my therapy more than anything.” — Chris Manak [0:33:08]
In this episode, Chris talks about his musical journey and how he went from saving his lunch money to buy records to where he is today. We hear about his formative relationship with rapper Charizma, and the immense impact that his death had on Chris. After his passing, Chris left music behind for some time, only to return to work through the pain. We also talk about where the idea to start Stones Throw came from, how to stay enthusiastic about music when it is your job, and why streaming, in many cases, is helping rather than hindering labels.
“As a label, we split our profits 50/50 with the artists, and we're transparent with our accounting.” — Chris Manak [1:15:36]
“I think streaming helped save our label in certain ways.” — Chris Manak [1:16:19]
“When I sign new artists, I feel like I'm living through them almost. When I see stuff that excites them, it excites me. I'm still really proud and thankful for all of the great music I am able to surround myself with.” — Chris Manak [1:06:30]