It took the Dillinger Escape Plan‘s Ben Weinman a few years to figure out what he actually wanted to do with his own record label. Launched in 2009, Party Smasher Inc. was first and foremost a way for the mathcore minor deities to release their own music after finishing out their contract with Relapse. When other bands asked Weinman to put out their music, however, he started thinking about Party Smasher’s other possibilities.
“I was ultimately interested in subcultures, the underground and scenes and music, and where they came from and how they influenced the mainstream,” Weinman tells Billboard over the phone from the road, where he’s touring with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden. “I started Party Smasher as a place to promote artistic culture and inspiration for people who not necessarily do everything themselves, but decide everything themselves.”
And what better place to try out Weinman’s DIY dreams than the web, which these days can seem like an endless parade of news lemmings chasing the same story over a cliff into a clickhole void? “There isn’t any specific ideology within these social networks or these sites,” he says. “It’s homogenized culture: everyone in the world using the same thing at the same time.”
Enter Partysmasherinc.com, the virtual home for Weinman’s nearly five-year-old label and brand, launched in July. The multifaceted online portal includes a store selling Dillinger’s first independent release, 2010’s Option Paralysis, along with products he endorses, like Jesse Cannon‘s tome The DIY Guide to the New Music Business. It also features interviews with artists including Faith No More‘s Mike Patton, Buzz Osborne from the Melvins (“It’s been almost 30 years since I had to punch a time clock for a job that sucked,” a sound bite Weinman has co-opted as his site’s mission), a forthcoming interview with Interpol‘s Paul Banks about the quantum leap from major to indie, as well as innovative features like behind-the-scenes music video footage and photo shoot galleries.
“We try to focus on art or music and then we try to talk about people’s alternate routes to getting things done,” Weinman says. “It could be as simple as how they become successful while maintaining artistic integrity.”
One particularly inspiring example is the site’s head of fashion, Kerin Rose, “an old punk chick” and good friend of Weinman’s. She launched her own artisanal eyeglasses line after handcrafting a pair of sunglasses and selling them at the store where she worked — to Rihanna. The superstar liked them so much she commissioned more from Rose, who suddenly found herself supplying Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Nicki Minaj. “She’s massively successful, yet she’s been really inspired by the DIY ethic and the underground hardcore scene,” Weinman says. “That’s the point.”
In terms of monetization, Weinman (who considers Partysmasherinc.com’s model closer to TED than Vice) initially considered providing paid services to bands before realizing he would rather “create a community of people that we can inspire.” In the future, he expects the media-based site will incorporate some kind of ad revenue from YouTube monetization, in addition to the money Partysmasherinc.com makes off its merchandise. Eventually, “the idea is to be able to spread the Party Smasher seal of approval across multiple platforms, whether you’re watching it from a Roku or Chromecast or Apple TV,” Weinman says.
Until then, “it’s about inspiring and showing there’s more than one way to do things,” he concludes. “There’s not a right way or a wrong way.” In this case, it’s your own way or the highway.