The man behind Miami-based record label 10K Islands, Will Suter, is a full-time business man. He's also a part-time jetsetter. "I technically live in Washington, D.C.," he explains. "But I also stay in New York and Miami."
It seems almost impossible to run a label — organizing distribution, publicity, and marketing; and helping to plan shows — from out of state. But Suter has figured out a way to do it remotely: Give the musicians some control. "We kind of meet in the middle and try to figure it out," he says. "It's as close to an artist-run label as you're going to find."
The 10K Islands offices are housed in a large Little Haiti warehouse that parent company Honor Roll Music also calls home. The mini-compound holds four recording studios, a basketball court, a live practice room, a lounge with a giant high-definition projection screen, and a couple of bedrooms. Big names like Sting, Uncle Luke, Steve Aoki, and Lauryn Hill have used the practice space in the past. And with a 24/7 open-door policy, it seems like a natural spot from which to recruit new talent.
10K Islands along with Discosoma Records, presents Holidazed 2010 with ANR, Can't Stop, Plains, and Deaf Poets. 9 p.m. Thursday, December 16, at Churchill's, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Tickets cost $5 at the door.
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Even when he's in D.C. or New York, Suter's personal mission is spreading the word about Miami's music scene. "[It's about] going to shows, being able to meet with other labels and other managers... even meeting with other artists and explaining, 'Hey, this is what's going in Miami and you should check it out.'"
In recent months, 10K Islands has built substantial buzz around Stay Kids, the upcoming album by local indie-pop duo Awesome New Republic. Originally set for release in October, then pushed to November, and now slated for early 2011, both the label and band have worked hard to keep fans from losing interest. They have offered teases such as giveaways, a pair of singles, a club remix, an intimate listening party at Sweat Records, album artwork previews, and even a brief UK tour.
"Our hope is that if we give you a remix or an EP for free, then you'll like it so much that you'll feel more inclined to pay the $8 or $10 to see the guys live, which is really, really where they shine," Suter says, proudly. "Seeing a live ANR show is just completely different than hearing the record. Two guys, five keyboards, a drum set, a drummer singing... It's like an arms-flailing kind of show."
"They can complete each other's music sentences and regular sentences," he enthuses. "It's pretty cool."