Thirty Tigers May Not Be A Label But They Sure Put Out A Bunch Of Records

Thirty_tigerslittle_logo__2_Nashville's Thirty Tigers is not a record label though they provide many of the services of one and may help release as many as 45 records this year. Creating a strong niche by providing label services for a percentage of sales without assuming rights, Thirty Tigers is successfully working with both established artists and new Americana acts. Recently co-founder and president David Macias shared some details of how they work with artists such as Jason Isbell, Kathy Mattea and The Avett Brothers.

Thirty Tigers is headquartered in Nashville and, according to Nate Rau writing for The Tennessean, has 19 full-timers there and additional employees in New York, LA and London.

Thirty Tigers' revenue is growing, says David Macias, and they'll put out around 45 records in 2013. They've built solid relationships with artists and managers who stay with them for repeat projects and rely on a custom mix of marketing, distribution and related services.

According to Rau:

"Thirty Tigers was founded in 2002 by Macias and Deb Markland on the premise that changes in the way people consume music would make independently releasing albums more appealing to artists than the traditional record label. In exchange for providing the services [artists]…need to release their records, Thirty Tigers is paid a percentage of revenue generated by album sales. That comes out to between 25 and 28 percent."

"The artists working with Thirty Tigers have control during the writing and recording and they also own the copyrights at the end of the process."

Thirty Tigers works with acts that they believe can help them meet their bottom line, whether established artists with reliable followings or acts that span an aesthetic range related to Americana that they know they can market and help succeed. With established acts, in particular, even loaning money for recording can be a good bet. As Macias explained:

“Let’s take a hypothetical act, and say this act has a track record of selling 50,000 units…The average wholesale costs between digital and physical is about $8 a unit. So if they sell 50,000 units and have a good track record of selling that many, you can have a reasonable expectation that the market value for the consumption of their pre-recorded music is $400,000. And we’re going to keep, for easy math say 25 percent of that to fulfill the functions we fulfill, then they’re going to bring in… about $300,000.”

Kathy Mattea and manager Marc Dottore were happy with their initial experience and Dottore has brought other artists to work with Thirty Tigers. He says:

"They’ve built a structure over there of people who have indie sensibilities with mainstream experience. So they understand the process and how to put a project together and help you bring a service set you need to get the job done.”

Jason Isbell feels they combine their skills with a love of music:

"Everybody at Thirty Tigers seems like a music fan first and foremost to me. I think they’re more interested in putting out good material than hobnobbing with rock stars or making money."

Apparently Thirty Tigers has created a solid mix for today's music industry.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. These hypotheticals are fine, but can they share the actual sales numbers of all 45 of their releases?

  2. If they release music under a company name, they are per definition a label. Whats the deal looks like is another story.
    But they are a label…

  3. I don’t think they release music under the Thirty Tigers name. Most of their releases seem to be released by independent, artist-owned labels.

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