JDub Records, a Jewish non-profit record label started nine years ago in New York City announced Tuesday (July 12) it is shuttering operations due to financial pressures.
"The decision to close was entirely financial," said JDub President & CEO Aaron Bisman in a statement, "the challenges facing our business model are too great to overcome.
The label, which helped launch the career of the dub-influenced orthodox musician Matisyahu (who later signed to Epic Records), had a musically eclectic roster that included Balkan Beat Box, Golem, Sway Machinery, Girls in Trouble and Socalled.
JDub, unlike most record labels, derived half its annual income from foundations and individual donors and the other half from record and ticket sales. It was the combination of declining cd sales as well as a lack of support from funders in a recessive economy that led to the label closing.
But JDub was never just a record label. As a non-profit Jewish organization its stated mission, as it says on its web site, was to "forge vibrant connections to Judaism through music, media and cultural events." JDub operations included the an artists fellowship program, overseeing the Jewcy website, event production and consulting.
Felicia Herman, Executive Director of the Natan Fund, JDub's longest standing funder said in the same release that, "JDub's stakeholders should feel nothing except 'mission accomplished.' In addition to the hundreds of thousands of people JDub touched directly through its events and albums, Jdub also changed the communal conversation, and made the community aware of the need to adapt to 21st-century American realities."
JDub, according to an article in The Forward, was one of the original beneficiaries of funds distributed by the Joshua Venture Group, an initiative intended to foster Jewish social entrepreneurs. Heeb Magazine, which recently halted its print magazine, was also an original recipient of Joshua Venture funding
In a letter posted on the label's website, Bisman listed some of the label's accomplishments he is most proud of: "Bringing 3,500 people together for The Unity Sessions at Celebrate Brooklyn; watching Balkan Beat Box play to sold out crowds of Gypsy bikers in Portland; jumping into a spontaneous hora at The Independent in San Francisco while a half naked Golem played frenetically onstage; putting many of you onstage at the Bowery Ballroom for an American Shmidol karaoke battle; being told "I've never felt Jewish until tonight."
When asked what's next Bisman told Billboard.biz the label is "looking for a new home for our catalogue, which includes the first three Balkan Beat Box albums, as well as releases by SoCalled, Golem, Soulico, and the Sway Machinery. We're also hoping to transfer Jewcy to a new organizational home."
Jewcy is a Jewish news and culture website geared towards a younger demographic that JDub began running in 2009.
"Personally, after ten years at the organization I founded while still at NYU, I am ready to start a new chapter," Bisman said. "We started with a label, an event production company and management services, and grew to include a new media platform and consultancy. It's more than disappointing to have to wind JDub down, but at the same time I look forward to helping lead other creative ventures in the future."