Infectious Magazine recently had the pleasure of interviewing Joel Kilby, co-founder of the fast-rising indie label Giant MKT Records. He discusses how the label got started, branching out beyond producing musical merchandise, advice for those looking to break into the music industry, and much more.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. How are you?
Can you tell us a little about your background, and what led you to launch Giant MKT?
So, Giant MKT was started by 3 people. Me, Christian Manzella, and Anthony Sanders.
We all used to work together. And we’re all stoked on the same kind of music and, like, culture and art. It was actually a side project of another venture that brought us three BACK together in a business. So we used some resources from that other gig, and some vision and decided to put MKT out as a platform for artists we respect to get their work out. We’re really intent about finding up-and-coming bands and stuff, and doing a lot of the legwork for them to make it simpler for them to get to the next level. We just all three wanted to put our knowledge of the web and love of music and stuff to work.
In addition to releasing music you also sell art, apparel, and a few other knick knacks. What led you to the decision to branch out and not focus solely on music?
All of us have a super huge appreciation for urban artists and street stuff. Ant had this project a few years ago doing charity posters with indie artists. And we sort of built on that idea to decide that we wanted MKT to really be a platform for all artists, not just music. Although that was probably the most logical first step.
What advice do you have for bands seeking a label?
The bands we look for are, first of all, really good at playing music and writing songs. Obviously. But secondly they also need to be hard-working. You know? We like to see a good local fan base, even if it’s a small number. That tells us that the band isn’t scared to play for people and get on the road. It takes a lot of elbow grease to get any kind of success as a band. We want to see people willing to throw down.
Third, bands should take a look at where they are and where they want to be. Approach a new label with a plan. Or at least some pretty decently thought-out goals. Goals for the next two months and goals for the next two years. We like to work with people that have their shit together, and I’m pretty sure any other label would too.
What challenges have you had to face as an indie label?
The biggest challenge is probably that nobody knows us yet. We came out strong with some good bands though. And we knew they were good first time we heard them. We did that on purpose to show that we’re serious. And our stuff has been received well by fans, but still. We’re small and have to really think about budget for example, so that’s a challenge.
What is one question that you don’t think is asked nearly enough that you’d like to offer insight on?
It’s a question I think people should ask about their art: Should this be my livelihood or hobby? I’ve seen other people, and experienced it personally, when you think you want to do it for a living and it KILLS your stoke. Be very careful about that. You may find that making your art your livelihood isn’t what you want at all.
What advice would you like to pass along to those looking to get into the music industry?
Decide if it’s your hobby or your livelihood. Once you decide “livelihood” you’re not a musician anymore. You’re a business person.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received regarding the industry?
From my dad a long time ago, and definitely regarding ANY industry. He told me one early morning, “Get up son. It’s time to go to work.”
What’s in the future for Giant MKT?
Our Delorean is in the shop right now. I can’t tell you! For real, I don’t want to give away our secrets, but we’re working on stuff all the time. All I can say is that people should just keep following along. We’re gonna do some rad stuff.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes. Check us out at http://giantmkt.com and support indie music!