When Tom Lipsky’s Loud & Proud Records parted ways with Roadrunner Records amid restructuring at the latter label last year, Lipsky faced both good and bad news. Unfortunately, the split meant that all of the artists signed to Loud & Proud since launching in partnership with Roadrunner in 2007, including Lynyrd Skynyrd and Rush, would remain with Roadrunner and its parent Atlantic Records Group, making Loud & Proud a label without a roster. Fortunately, however, the split allowed Lipsky to fulfill his life’s mission: recording and preserving the work of veteran musicians.
This spring, Lipsky inked an exclusive distribution and label services deal with RED/’Stache Media, hired former Roadrunner VP Madelyn Scarpulla as Loud & Proud’s GM and set to work on rebuilding the label’s roster. His first three signings included veteran singer/songwriter Willie Nile, a new band called the Winery Dogs featuring Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy and members of Mr. Big, and the Walking Papers, a new rock group featuring bassist Duff McKagan of Guns ‘N Roses and Velvet Revolver fame.
“The veteran artist community needs to be appreciated for what they do today, and not just because of their catalog,” Lipsky says. “These artists have earned their spot, and they should always have a label home.”
A baby boomer who grew up listening to many of the artists he’s worked with through the years, including Neil Young and the Allman Brothers Band, Lipsky sees a “sound, conservative” business model in dealing with artists who have an established fan base. Rather than creating entirely new marketing plans based on speculation, Loud & Proud uses sales and airplay data from its artists’ performance histories to establish its budgets.
RED Distribution president Bob Morelli, who previously worked with Lipsky while running label CMC International in the ’90s, shares his interest in reviving the careers of heritage artists. “There’s a built-in audience for these guys,” Morelli says. “Add in strong music and strong marketing, and there’s a significant upside.”
Since launching, Loud & Proud has been affiliated with Roadrunner, which itself was a subsidiary of Atlantic Records and, subsequently, was part of Warner Music Group. During this time, Loud & Proud’s primary directive was to meet the needs of its various parents. Now that the label is standing on its own for the first time, Lipsky is thrilled to be working as a true independent.
“I’m doing simple, straightforward business with artists who deserve it,” he says. “There’s no approval system to adhere to or flag pole to run ideas up. We are the flag pole.”