Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman are two names you have probably never heard before if you’re just a regular consumer of music. But for us music-obsessed nerds, their story is the one we all dream of. Bruce and Jonathan, music geeks galore, connected in the early 1980s through the local music scene in Seattle and ended up starting Sub Pop Records, in an effort to simply better expose the great music they thought Seattle was producing. By 1988, they had an office. By 1991, they had $2.5 million in the bank, thanks to a little trio who called themselves Nirvana. Sub Pop is now celebrating their 20th anniversary and if you want a good, interesting read today, then I suggest you head on over to Pitchfork, where both Sub Pop founders are subject of an excellent interview about the innerworkings of a small record label. A lot of this stuff is exactly what we went through at Tar Hut (besides the, uh, large sums of money they ended up with), so it really resonates for me. But even if you’re not at all into the business of music or independent record labels, it’s just a pretty captivating read to see what they went through and how they reacted to their success and how they adjusted to the post-Nirvana world.
Sub Pop is still a terrific label – by no means a one-hit wonder. Band of Horses, Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes, Mudhoney, The Shins and the GREAT Kelley Stoltz are all on the label and still producing inventive, relevant music. Good for them!