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Interview: Vinnie Fiorello (Paper + Plastick) - 09.05.10
 

Vinnie Fiorello (Paper + Plastick) - 09.05.10

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Vinnie Fiorello (Paper + Plastick) - 09.05.10In late 2006, founding label owner Vinnie Fiorello left Fueled By Ramen. Stepping away doesn't mean stepping down, as Fiorello started Paper + Plastick, a label with the idea to combine great music and great art. Within about two years, the label has done well to release some solid albums by quite a few great upstarts to the punk scene. Fiorello took some time to talk to us about the success of the label and which road he's taking (and has taken) from here on out.


It's been two years since Paper+Plastick started up. Off the bat, what are your thoughts on the success of the label thus far?

I am floored by the response. There's been a groundswell of support and when I look back on the last two years I feel lucky, finding like minded bands, fans of music, finding and connecting with people who were waiting for a change of the musical guard, so to speak. That groundswell pushed me to expand the label and it's roster quickly and while there has been a lot of victories, there has been growing pains as well. At the end of the day I consider myself lucky to be involved with such talented people and feel like we have come a long way in two years.

With all the time that has passed, and the direction that Fueled by Ramen has taken and the direction that P+P has taken, are you happy with your decision and if there even were bitter sentiments, have those all passed now?

I was never bitter about leaving Fueled By Ramen. It was time to leave something that I started, in one way I out grew it and in another way it out grew me. I look back on the early days of FBR as some moments that define who I am, but at the end of the day I did not feel attached to the new breed of bands or policies that were on the table at the time. While I could have pushed my agenda, I decided to leave the company and let it move in it's natural progression, both in the way it handles it's business and the style of music it caters to. I looked at it as a positive move for both me and FBR.

P+P is being deemed part of "The Wave" along with labels such as No Sleep and Top Shelf and Sargent House. How do you feel being part of this movement to not only push good, earnest music, but also honest and D.I.Y. business decisions some insiders and artists feel are lost these days?

I feel a kindred spirit with those labels, not only in the way we handle our bands and business, but also in that I'm a fan of a lot of the music on those labels. At the end of the day I want the bands to have the best situation. I handle the label almost like a management company at times because it just isnt production. It encompasses the band experience and I think that a label has to respond to the new business model like this. Just being a bank with distribution to a band isnt enough anymore. There seems to be a large division in music these days with bands wanting a career in music and ones that are looking for a quick fix. I like to think that I have insight enough to be able to give P+P bands advice on being in music for the long term. As for " the wave" of new labels, I feel like music buyers and music makers want a change and slowly there's a new breed of label taking it upon themselves to step out of the current music business model and do it on their terms. I feel proud to be in that wave.

Could you explain a little bit of the idea behind P+P? Specifically the separation between musical artists and traditional print artists.


In a nutshell, I believe that visual art and music go hand in hand. Paper and Plastick equally embraces the visual artist and the musical artist. The digital music age ushered in a way of getting music instantly, but also seemed to eliminate the art that goes along with it. I want to bring the feeling back of reading "thanks" lists, holding lyrics sheets, of looking into the art and understanding the release better. I think the visual artists are the unsung heroes of modern music, toiling away on shirts, on layouts, on stage back drops, on logos. These artists design the lifestyle around the music.

From Fueled by Ramen to how P+P runs now, how do you think you have handled the "changing of the industry structure," in a sense, when working with FBR then and P+P now?

Technology continues to provide new vehicles to consume music, to market bands, and reach fans. I think that the landscape is so different now from when I left FBR that when starting P+P I had to start from scratch when it came to how to market and distribute music. Deciding to not sell CDs in retail is one huge difference, as well as my focus is on art and vinyl, and digital media outlets instead of print media.

How has your discovery of bands now changed from when you first started signing people back in the day, or has it not changed at all?

Finding bands has come full circle. Word of mouth from bands and fans is probably my most logical way of finding new music. I devour new music. I continually push myself to find new bands, new sounds, and I'm always on the quest to find my new favorite band. In the later days of FBR it became a lawyer and manager game, a constant flow of hype and hollow. Of course there are exceptions, and in my case, I was part of some. These days I just listen to everything and I listen to it always.

With certain dynamics changing around distribution and marketing (essentially going back to a greater D.I.Y. trend internally with bands as opposed to external sources such as labels and managements), what's your advice for up and coming artists before they jump into the whole business side of things in this current state of industry and market share? Market share as in possible over saturation of bands that is...

That is a broad question because essentially every band is in a different situation with different agendas and with different personalities. Overall, I think at this split in the road, bands need to take on every responsibility possible before handing over that responsibility to other people, like managers and labels. In the not-too-distant future, being in a band will be a cottage industry, booking your own tours, marketing your own records, financing releases internally from crowd sourcing or fan sourcing, running every facet of social networks all the way to discovering new ways to interact with fans. When I started P+P I wanted the label to have a niche that known and unknown bands could work into, and that was highly detailed packaging of vinyl records. Making collectors items in short forced people to not only get the MP3 but to actually want to own the music in a physical format. But back to the question - Bands need to understand who their fanbase is, because in this day and age it really is easy to ignore music. There are so many diversions, so many bands and sub-genres of bands, that understanding who you want to come to shows is essential. Who knows the band better than the band.

Reflecting back, what do you think was easier - being in a band or running a label? What do you think is still easier to this day, or have things shifted? Is it easier to be in an established band now running a new label?

With Paper + Plastick I have taken to the "it's my way - so fuck you" mentality. Whether the label ultimately fails or succeeds is on my shoulders, and I want it that way. When I fuck up, I move on and learn from the mistake. There's always mistakes when you put yourself out there but you learn from the history and you accept that hidnsight is 20/20. Being in a band is similar, but my band has five distinct voices, and we succeed or fail on those five voices. It's much more democratic than the label is. To make a band succeed, you need to communicate and take the time to listen to everyone. Most bands miss the point of being in a band. It's about the band and never just about one person.

Cliche, but where would you like to see the label go from here?


I have a few new book projects, and a few vinyl toy projects coming, as well as a stacked schedule of releases. I know it will be a busy next 6 months, but it should be busy as you are building a brand. Where does the label go? Insert positive message here? Instead of that I will say that I will be pushing a glacier up a hill and happily doing so. If you want to help me out, stop by when P+P bands are touring, buy a shirt, buy a release, and help support independent music.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 15
11:01 AM on 10/05/10
#2
stuckonsmile
Singer; songwriter youtube/mrowks
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Great article. Makes me want to make music my living even more that I already wanted to.
12:18 PM on 10/05/10
#3
blinkme
Sinatra blue
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I have so much respect for Vinnie. Really looking forward to the release of Andrew Dost's album too!
12:47 PM on 10/05/10
#4
mickmadethelist
Troy and Abed on the iiiiiinternet
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Love Vinnie. And the idea behind P+P
01:16 PM on 10/05/10
#5
Dre Okorley
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Great article. Makes me want to make music my living even more that I already wanted to.
Very much.
01:22 PM on 10/05/10
#6
Chris Fallon
Boom.
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Vinnie is one of the most honest and hard-working individuals I know in this industry. He does a lot for the label and who he signs. Probably one of the best overall people working in music today. Great to read his thoughts and identify just how proud he is of what he's created.
02:26 PM on 10/05/10
#7
Adam Pfleider
wait. what were we talking about?
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Vinnie is one of the most honest and hard-working individuals I know in this industry. He does a lot for the label and who he signs. Probably one of the best overall people working in music today. Great to read his thoughts and identify just how proud he is of what he's created.
ummm...this.
04:31 PM on 10/05/10
#8
ESundy36
GO FRIARS!
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I think Vinnie's answers to this interview just show what an honest guy he truly is.
04:46 PM on 10/05/10
#9
MJSchmidt
Hang 'em high or not at all
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Love what is he doing with P+P. Now if only he would bring the tail back!
04:55 PM on 10/05/10
Cue the Sun
I'm not sad anymore
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great read. Vinnie is the man (:
05:56 PM on 10/05/10
GetWellBoss
Augustine / Ryan
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Love this guy. Love this label.
10:24 PM on 10/05/10
screamoutmyname
through being cool
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so many releases within the past two years with no signs of slowing down... great dude
02:26 AM on 10/06/10
WinterInMyBones
..
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It's a shame how shitty FBR has become since near when Vinnie left. But at least Vinnie's doing better with Paper + Plastick.
06:35 AM on 10/06/10
hello299
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Seems like a great guy!
06:47 PM on 10/06/10
InaGreendase
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Needs more real talk.

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