While the majority of independent record labels are focusing on selling albums and developing their artists, others are seeking new ways to expand business.
Since opening its doors in early June, Saddle Creek's Slowdown club in Omaha, Neb., has already hosted concerts from Bright Eyes, Built to Spill, Tokyo Police Club, Vampire Weekend, Silversun Pickups and the Rentals.
The 470-capacitity Slowdown is part of a Saddle Creek-owned multimillion-dollar mixed-use complex comprising art house theaters, retail stores, a restaurant and apartments. Along with hosting concerts, the 56,000-square foot bar/club houses Saddle Creek's offices and nine-person staff. With plans to host up to three concerts per week, the Slowdown also offers pub quizzes, karaoke and dance parties on off nights.
"We've always seen the need for a decent club in town," Saddle Creek label manager and Slowdown co-owner Jason Kulbel tells Billboard. "We've been talking about it for so long, and now it's finally happened."
Val Nelson, in-house talent buyer at the Slowdown, says that Saddle Creek's reputation in the record industry has given the club instant credibility. "When you're opening a new club, the agents know that reputation will go over into the club aspect," Nelson says, "and that bands will be treated fairly and taken care of."
Saddle Creek's roster of acts -- Bright Eyes, Cursive, the Faint, Two Gallants, the Good Life and Maria Taylor, among others -- also proved to be advantageous in designing venue. The all-ages club offers a washer/dryer and a shower, along with parking and a load-in door behind the club.
"The fact that they have access to so many musicians' opinions shows insanely in the club and how it's designed," says Nelson, who previously booked Kalamazoo, Mich.'s 250-capacity Kraftbrau. "You don't find that in many clubs of this size."
Upcoming fall shows at the Slowdown include Against Me!, Cursive, the Besnard Lakes, St. Vincent, the National, Ferraby Lionheart, Redman, Two Gallants, the Good Life, Pinback, Helio Sequence and Minus the Bear, among others. Ryan Palmer is serving as general manager.
"So far the buzz on the room is pretty good," says Marc Leibowitz, co-owner of Omaha-based 1% Productions, which is promoting the majority of shows at the Slowdown. "It's definitely nice having a state-of-the-art facility in Omaha. We haven't really had anything like that."
Saddle Creek isn't the only indie label experimenting with its own venue. Righteous Babe Records and Nettwerk Music Group have also tapped into the live music space. Click here to read more about labels opening venues in an attempt to drive revenue and create a setting to showcase their acts.