Due to continuing power outages in Lower Manhattan, The New School will remain closed until Monday, November 5, therefore this event has been cancelled. Please check the events calendar should this be rescheduled.
The Eyes of the Entrepreneurs series is dedicated to
empoweringartists to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in
takingresponsibility for their art and
their career. More than ever before,musicians
are their own businesses. Each week we feature notable guestartists, who will discuss the paths they took in
developing theirvision and life in
music, as well concepts like authenticity andintegrity, skill development, community building, networking, andmore.
Neal Sugarman grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and played
saxophonefor punk rock bands Boys Life and Black Cat Bone
during the 1980s. Hemoved to New York in
the early 1990s to pursue jazz. After a stint inNew Orleans playing with musicians including Eddie Henderson and MikeLongo, Sugarman returned to New York and formed
a funk band withorganist Adam Scone and
drummer Rudy Albin. The trio, named TheSugarman
3, were influenced by artists such as "Brother" Jack McDuffand The Meters.
The story of Daptone's first decade is one of struggle andperseverance and, ultimately, one of family. Though it was formallylaunched in 2001, the foundation was laid by
Roth's previous label,the now infamous
Desco Records, on which saxophonist Sugarman hadreleased his first two LP's under the name Sugarman Three. Roth andthen-partner Philip Lehman had developed not
only a reputation forgritty,
idiosyncratic soul and funk records, but more importantly thebeginnings of what would become the family of
musicians at the core ofthe Daptone
story. After Desco closed it's doors in 2000, Roth bouncedfrom one fruitless temp job to another, unsure of his
next move butcertain starting another
label wasn't it. "I knew that I liked makingrecords - that was fun - but I'd had my fill of the
Meanwhile, Sugarman had come to Roth to produce a third
Sugarman Threealbum, Pure Cane Sugar, and had
been similarly frustrated byunfruitful
negotiations with independent labels to release it. "Atsome point Neal and I sat down and said, 'Let's just
do thisourselves.'" The new
partnership came with a caveat: "I told him,'Look man, I don't like the record industry,' Roth
remembers. "'I'mdown to be partners
with you, but it'll have to be your job toactually
sell the records, because I do not enjoy that." Sugarman washesitant initially, unsure of his ability to make the
transition frommusician to business
owner, but eventually he assented, and the twosteadily set about navigating the industry by following their owncompass. Their first releases were proper issues
of Dap-Dippin' andPure Cane Sugar,
accompanied by a flurry of 45's from the samesessions, all sold from the kitchen table of Sugarman's Brooklynapartment.
"I want people to know, when they buy a Daptone record,
that it'sgonna be something that makes them feel good,"
Sugarman says, "andhave a certain
feeling and a certain sincerity and a certain rawnessyou need to make good music." This is Daptone's
legacy: music made forlove, not for
market pressure or trend-hopping. But, by relentlesslyoperating outside a structure they saw as alternately
absurd orcorrupt, Roth and Sugarman have
set a template for succeeding on one'sown
terms. "I hope people get inspiration from the spirit of it – theidea of doing stuff independently and doing it on your
own way, andnot falling into any of the
prescribed rules and formulas," Gabe Rothsays.
At the mark of a decade in business, Daptone Records has
remainedproudly independent: weathering financial hardships,
industrypressures and fickle trends, and
emerging stronger and more reliablethan
labels four times their size. To hear Roth tell it, the secret issimple: "We were able to stay rooted in this idea
that people want tohear good music. And
that's our business plan: We're gonna try to makereally good records. Period."