“From its birth to I guess now being a toddler, the strength of the label has been and always will be putting out quality music,” says Limited Fanfare Records founder Brian Kurtz. “The productivity and activity generally stems from different things: relationships with bands that I've worked with over the past 15 years and, less often, finding music online or what's sent to me to check out.”
Since its humble beginnings in early 2011, Limited Fanfare has quietly developed a niche for itself in the American independent music scene. With the advent of professional-level technologies for home recording and self-releasing, this has been no easy task, but Kurtz’s attitude and commitment have been instrumental in the label’s steady success.
“The business model is an interesting one in that there are physical releases that I know I’m not going to make money on, but I feel strongly about them and want people to hear them,” Kurtz says. "Sometimes those projects will get subsidized on the digital download/streaming front from past releases. But on the flip side, there have been releases that have made money from pre-order sales even before the release date."
Not every record is going to be a hit, but on the strength of Kurtz’s instincts and likes, they at least get a decent shot at being heard – which is ultimately, all that Kurtz really wants. Does this form of DIY altruism benefit the operation in the long run? Only time will tell, but being aligned with the current revivals of the vinyl and cassette formats hasn’t hurt.
“Vinyl has always been my favorite format; the first albums I owned as a kid were on vinyl,” the label boss says. "People really connect to vinyl records as an audio-visual piece and it's no wonder the ‘vinyl resurgence’ is still blossoming.”
Where some labels specialize in a format, Limited Fanfare’s roster has released almost everything, except 8-tracks.
“I'm also a big proponent of the cassette and have released a bunch of them, around ten, in the past few years. For five bucks, you get the physical product and a download coupon, so as a music buyer and collector you can't lose. Thanks to labels like our friends at California's Burger Records, whom we've worked with before, and locals Cheap Miami, the cassette has made a big comeback and rightfully so!”
For this weekend’s Record Store Day, now in its eighth-annual edition, Limited Fanfare will be at Fort Lauderdale’s Radio-Active Records for a fourth year in a row, armed with the label's entire catalog of releases, both in-print and the final, squirreled-away copies of the out-of-print stuff. Kurtz will also have test pressings and there will be a lot of free records given away.
“My attitude for the event hasn't changed over the years, though the popularity and composition of the event may have changed some,” he says. “Record Store Day is to celebrate independent record stores and, in turn, the labels that put out the slices of wax for everyone to consume and enjoy that day.”
Limited Fanfare’s next release, the debut LP from Los Angeles quartet Late Night Friends, is scheduled for release on June 30, hot on the heels of the band's digital single, “We Are Okay.” In the meantime, Kurtz has a free Spring/Summer sampler available via limitedfanfare.bandcamp.com.
The label boss is also arduously working at releasing a project close to his heart, which further proves how his love for music has been the key to making this whole operation work.
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“I'm still working on a few things that aren't solid just yet for later in the year, but I can tell you that I'm trying to license one of my favorite records from the ‘90s that has meant a lot to me over the years. That'll hopefully come to fruition sometime next year!”
Limited Fanfare Records. As part of Radio-Active Records’ Record Store Day 2015. 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Radio-Active Records, 845 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-762-9488; radio-active-records.tumblr.com. Entry is free.