By Geoffrey Borchgrevink
Fourteen years ago, University of Florida student John Janick was lying on his dorm room bed contemplating his future. He fired up his cd player and shuffled song-to-song, not happy with anything he heard. “Why do the A&R guys always suck the creative juices out of the artist?” he wondered. Then it hit him. Why not start a label that works in partnership with the artist to help them get their creative vision out to their fans? He called his friend Vinnie Fiorello, drummer for the band Less Than Jake. Vinnie was stoked. Together they started indie label “Fueled By Ramen” in John’s dorm room. The two started pushing their small group of artists “guerilla style”. Sales started slowly, 500 records a week and grew to 3,000 records a week over a few months. The signing of Fall Out Boy changed everything. Fall Out Boy’s debut album sold over 225,000 copies, and in 1998, they released a 5 song EP from Arizona’s “Jimmy Eat World”. Fueled By Raman was becoming an indie force. They moved out of the dorm and into legit office space.
In 2002 & 2003 Yellowcard and Fall Out Boy each released groundbreaking CD’s. The success of these two punk rock groups took Fueled By Raman to major indie label status. Now the artists were coming to them to sign. Soon the label would see even bigger success with RIAA certified platinum selling artists “Panic! At The Disco” and “Paramore”.
Although many bands and industry personnel critique the newly drafted 360 deals, Fueled By Ramen’s most recent brush with fame was when Paramore (out of Franklin, Tennessee) signed a joint 360 deal with Atlantic Records and Fueled By Ramen. According to Wikipedia, a 360 deal is a mutual agreement between the artist and the record label that allows for higher advances in exchange for a percentage of all of the band/artists revenue streams. Included are, recorded music, live performances, merchandise and any other income.
Fueled By Ramen can prove to be a success story to not only independent records labels, but can also serve as a guide to larger dominant players in the recording industry. Focusing on a creative vision for the artist, establishing a small community “where the lines between artists, employees and fans are difficult to discern”, Fueled By Ramen can be seen as the future of the record industry. Establishing a loyal fan base (similar to that of a band) up front, providing the listeners with what they want to hear, and constantly adding to their lineup of bands, Fueled By Ramen’s founders John Jake and Vinnie Fiorellos created a successful indie label. They can point to a string of successful artists and several platinum CD’s. They continue to break new ground with innovative partnering agreements. Fueled By Ramen and Atlantic Records teamed up to create the first 360 deal with Paramour. The innovation of the 360 deal has impacted virtually every major player in the recording industry. Sony’s current business practice is to sign all new artists to 360 deals, and they are not alone. According to Billboard magazine, Madonna signed a 360 deal with Live Nation.
From a small dorm room at the University of Florida, creative ideas have changed the relationships between artist and label on both the creative and business levels.
Current Line Up
Gym Class Heroes
Panic! At The Disco
The Academy Is…
A Rocket to the Moon
Jimmy Eat World
Less Than Jake
Fall Out Boy
Cute Is What We Aim For