So, people ask me this sometimes, and I appreciate that they want me and Peter and Jon to get maximum paid for the records we make. And it is true that we’ll get the biggest cut from sales at shows, because those copies are copies we buy directly from the label. However, I am every bit just as happy and in fact in some ways happier to take a slightly reduced cut if you’re buying from your local record store, which is almost doubtless scrambling to survive every day, or from a cool mailorder, or directly from the label if the label does mailorder.
I make a little bit of a big deal about this because more people than me need to get paid for the stuff I do to happen. There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about labels and publishers as if they were hurdles to be cleared, obstacles to be circumnavigated. I can’t speak for anybody else’s experiences, though stories of label skullduggery abound, and shame on such labels. But my personal experience in independent music is that the people releasing Mountain Goats records aren’t “The Label.” They’re my friends, and they’re also almost all musicians themselves. They are people who share exactly equivalent praise or blame for the music I make, because you wouldn’t have heard it without them, by which I mean without their support and nurturing and faith I would never have made the music in the first place. So while I’m, again, grateful that people think of my well-being, it’s my opinion that the people who make the music available - especially independent labels, especially independent stores - deserve your patronage, and it’s 100% ok if I have to sell a few more records at retail to make as much as I’d make selling them at shows. I don’t do what I do in a vacuum. Without the labels that put out my stuff and the stores that stocked it and the people working in the stores who told people browsing to maybe check out the Mountain Goats, I would almost doubtless not even own a guitar right now. I’d be a nurse somewhere in California, and I’d write poetry in my downtime. Which would also be a good life, because every day above ground is a good day, unless you’re getting shot at, it sucks to get shot at, but you see my point