From its humble beginnings in 1996 as a small independent label in Bloomington, Ind., Ben Swanson, with his brother Chris, has grown Secretly Canadian into Secretly Label Group, a small empire that consists of three other partner-run labels (Jagjaguwar, Dead Oceans and Numero Group), a distribution company and a publishing arm. In 2012, Jagjaguwar act Bon Iver took home Grammy Awards for best new artist and best alternative music album. Last year, Secretly Canadian’s Major Lazer stormed Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums chart, reaching No. 1 with its sophomore release, “Free the Universe.”
7:00 AM I get up with my 2-year-old daughter, make coffee and put on some demos and other new music that’s just come in. Then I check emails from our U.K. office and respond to any emergencies. One of our artists, Damien Jurado, is over there for a press trip and I want to be sure that everything is going smoothly.
8:30 AM I go for a half-hour run, take a shower and then head into the office.
10:00 AM We have a project call across all four labels to discuss progress on upcoming albums and other projects we’re working on. We always do these in the morning because it’s the one time when all of our offices have overlapping hours.
11:00 AM We have more macro calls with the A&R, Secretly Canadian Publishing and SC Distribution teams that aren’t pegged to specific projects. The A&R call is the most fun — everyone advocates for new acts that they’re obsessing over.
12:30 AM I grab a sandwich from Bloomingfoods, the local co-op nearby, and head back to the office for more coffee.
3:00 PM I have a call with Fort William, a management company that I’m a partner in [along with brother Chris, Ami Spishock and Jagjaguwar’s Darius Van Arman]. Eric Deines, who manages Foxygen, just came on full-time with us, and Ami, who manages Grizzly Bear, recently wrapped up their campaign and started work on the War on Drugs.
6:15 PM I head home and have dinner with my wife and daughter. I block off some time just to spend with the family — hanging with my girl, giving her a bath and getting her ready for bed. Then my wife and I start work cleaning up the total chaos that she’s inflicted on our house.
8:00 PM I get away from email and drive up to Indianapolis to see the memorial concert for [late Secretly Canadian artist] Jason Molina at Radio Radio. It’s incredible — a bunch of old friends come out and play some of my all-time favorite songs. -Reggie Ugwu