The reality of today's indie music business is recording, releasing and selling records without having a record label. That's the conclusion reached by several Spanish alternative rock groups one month after quitting their labels and setting up a "self-production" unit called Realidad Musical.

RM consists of the bands, their booking agents, and communications company Promo Sapiens, which also organizes concerts.

All releases are distributed by Madrid indie label BOA Records, Spain's strongest hip-hop label with solid distribution links to all major outlets, such as FNAC stores and the 75-strong El Corte Inglés chain of city center department stores.

The first RM release, "Amaneció" by Madrid band Boikot, has sold more than 3,000 units since its April 2 release.

"In this day and age, that is a success, especially without a label or any media support," says Boikot singer and bassist Juankar González. "But the real success is in the group being its own company, controlling its own image, and holding the reins of everything."

Promo Sapiens was founded five years ago by music industry execs, including former Edel Spain assistant A&R Victor Pereira. "What do groups need?", Pereira asks. "Communication, management, and distribution," he says. "All the groups had labels before -- now they do that side of things themselves."

In the case of the RM bands -- Boikot, Reincidentes, Italian outfit Banda Basotti, Estirpe, Iratxo, Disidencia, and El Ultimo Ke Zierre -- their "managers" are their booking agents. Attraction is the booking agent for Boikot and Reincidentes, Grupo Pinball for Iratxo, and Wilma Producciones for Disidencia and El Ultimo Ke Zierre.

Pereira says, "Realidad Musical is about self-management, and launching and promoting records and concerts. It is not a label, but a bunch of like-thinking friends where each group produces and launches its own records."

RM aims to reduce the price of the group's CDs to a minimum of between €10-15 ($15.40-23.10), instead of the typical €20-22 ($30.80-33.90). "Amaneció" costs a maximum of €12 ($18.50), says González.

Pereira says the RM groups have no regular space in conventional media, and have made their names through touring and playing festivals, in Spain, Europe, Latin America, and Japan.

In April and May, Boikot played four concerts in Japan, and others in Italy with Banda Basotti. "Amaneció" was recorded in Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina, part of the former Yugoslavia. Boikot's biggest-selling album, "La Ruta del Che", released in 1997 to mark the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Che Guevara in Bolivia, was recorded in Argentina, Mexico and Cuba. It has sold more than 30,000 units, says González.

BOA Records was happy to collaborate with Realidad Musical. "Any initiative which helps the indie music scene is welcome, and as we have access to the more established record outlets, it was logical we should help out," says BOA director Fernando Luances.

"BOA is doing a good job," says Pereira. "It is a company with proven solvency, and has a lot of experience in the indie sector."

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