Dot Time Records: Placing the Artist in the Center

Dot Time Records: Placing the Artist in the Center
Jakob Baekgaard By

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One of the problems with the record industry is the potential distance between label owners and artists. This is especially the case with major labels, where there are many people involved in music production who care more about sales than the vision of the artist.

Then there's a label like Dot Time Records whose entire identity is built on artistic freedom and trust. This becomes clear when reading the short manifest on the label's website:

"Dot-Time Records is the new Jazz and World music label being launched in 2012. Dot-Time releases feature exciting virtuoso artists, both established and newly discovered from around the globe. The branding of Dot-Time Records can be found in the creativity, artistry, passion and energy of these artists and musicians."

The people behind this manifesto are just as passionate as the musicians themselves and they know the business from both sides of the table. Jo Bickhardt and Andrew Read have a combined history of work that covers all aspects of the industry, from performing to managing and distributing. They have followed a record from every step on its way from demo to the stores before they decided on launching their own label. Based in the Netherlands and New York, Dot Time Records isn't the vision of one producer and owner, but a team based on friendship, experience and mutual respect. More than anything, it is a modern label that has left the dusty image of the record mogul and entered the age of networking and collaboration.

All About Jazz: Could you speak about your background? How did you get into music—and jazz in particular? Did it ever occur to you that you would be label owners some day?

Andrew Read: I was born in Australia and come from a musical family. My mother was an opera singer and my father a great jazz fan. I began music lessons at the age of 8 and at age 17 switched to double bass. I have degrees in both jazz & classical performance. After leaving the conservatorium in Melbourne in the late seventies, I ended up in the pop/rock scene in Melbourne, however, jazz was always my passion. After I left the pop scene in Australia, I returned to university to study Business Management. After graduating I had decided that a career in the business world was not for me and decided to return to the music business. I moved to the Netherlands in 1993 to further my classical studies and 20 years later I am still there.

Did it ever occur to me that I would own 50% of a jazz label one day? The short answer is NO, although I have always been interested in the business side of the industry. From 2002 until 2008 I managed a baroque orchestra and later took on a number of jazz artists as well. I met Jo Bickhardt (my partner in Dot Time) through a release from my jazz trio. Jo Bickhardt was the US distributor for the label I was on at the time and we just clicked. There were so many points of synergy that we started working together. Dot Time came out of this relationship.

Jo Bickhardt: I was born in New Jersey, USA and I have been immersed in music from birth. My father was a great lover of classical music as well as a fabulous singer. From my earliest recollection I loved to sing and I have been doing so professionally my entire life. I am classically trained and also a cantor. While at conservatory in Chicago I was fortunate to work with some recording engineers who discovered I had a great set of ears for classical recordings and they stuck me behind the console. People began to ask me to help produce their work. I started a small classical label to help out friends and realized that distribution was extremely difficult and made no business sense, which still holds true to this day. So I started a small independent distribution company with my own set of rules and have managed to survive all the storms and current forecasts.

Jazz is new to me and I have come to enjoy many avenues of it. Andrew and I talk music but very differently as I approach things from a very classical side. It helps me to think that way and keeps me clear of the numerous issues that jazz musicians face regarding genre expectation. It never was an issue to own a label, and the one we have created is much different than the industry norm.

AAJ: When did you form your label and how did it happen?

AR: Our label was formed in my car on the A1 in Holland. Jo and I had just attended a meeting for one of my artists at the offices of their Label. The point of the meeting was to discuss the contract for their coming release. The deal on offer was so ridiculous and on the way back Jo said "You know, with my distribution and your experience in management we can do this much better." My answer was OK then let's do it. Dot Time was born. This was November 2011. In April 2012 we released our 1st CD.

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