SCI Fidelity Records

by Robert Squance

SCI Fidelity Records, which was started by the band The String Cheese Incident together with booking agency Madison House, Inc., was created in 1998 to offer artists an alternative to the traditional record label. With headquarters in Boulder  and  New York, the label provides their artists with complete management and marketing services.  They specialize in offering their artists a high level of creativity and freedom, which makes for a great selection of unique music. To further understand the label and the ideas behind its inner workings, however, you should first take a look at the band behind it all.

The String Cheese Incident

The band's first release, "Born on the Wrong Planet"

Formed in 1993 in Telluride, Colorado, The String Cheese Incident is a jam band in every sense of the word.  Their sound is a blend of various styles of music, from bluegrass to country, funk to jazz, calypso to rock, and so on. Known primarily as a touring band, they have always been successful in connecting with their fans and getting their name spread by word of mouth. After a few years of playing relatively small shows and generating interest from major labels, the band decided to start their own label, which would eventually end up including  an extremely diverse roster of artists. The first release on the newly created SCI Fidelity label was the band’s 1996 album “Born on the Wrong Planet”.  Since then, the band has released nine more studio albums as well as many live albums and concert DVDs.


SCI Fidelity handbill

The band has always used street team advertising and grassroots marketing to share information about upcoming projects, and that is how the label is run as well. A street team is essentially a group of fans who volunteer to help promote their favorite bands.  According to the label’s website, the street team is responsible for putting up posters, handing out handbills at shows, and spreading good vibes about upcoming shows and/or albums. In return for helping spread the word, many fans are rewarded with goodies such as free merchandise, albums, and sometimes even free tickets to shows. By using these out-of-box techniques to reach their fans, the label has been able to get the word out on many amazing musicians while also selling its product. In an interview done by FanMail with Matt Hogan of SCI Fidelity, he states his opinion that “grassroots marketing is the most authentic, effective and inexpensive way of of spreading the word about any project to a large audience… companies would be crazy not to take advantage of the passion of their existing customer/fan base to help promote their product.” SCI Fidelity believes that it’s now more important than ever to create a strong relationship with your customers to make them feel like they’re part of a much bigger community.

With each band having their own street team (there are approximately 10,000 total individuals), keeping track of every member and updating their information can be quite a time-consuming task. Using a basic Excel spreadsheet, the label was constantly adding information and losing time in the process. Their solution to the problem of keeping up with the updates was to use FanMail Marketing. Providing a much needed service, FanMail connects artists with their fans in a variety of ways, which takes the task of having to manually do it away from the artist. By using this new technology, SCI Fidelity can  communicate directly with their street team members and know which members can be used for different assignments.

SCI Fidelity started off in the late 90s with The String Cheese Incident, but its focus on constant touring and amazing musicianship has helped to expand their roster. The label  now boasts many heavyweights of the jamband scene, such as; Umphrey’s McGee, Keller Williams, Lotus, The New Deal, Brothers Past,The Disco Biscuits, Railroad Earth, The Greyboy Allstars, and many more.

Umphrey's McGee

The Disco Biscuits

Greyboy Allstars

The New Deal

SCI Fidelity has garnered great success by having an immense amount of respect for both the artist and the fan. With the use of new technologies, they are able to stay connected with the fans while constantly gaining new interest through grassroots campaigns and live events. By enlisting volunteers to join street teams, the label creates ways for ordinary people to be part of a large community that shares the same love of music.

 

Works Cited

SCI Fidelity Official Website

History of Record Labels Blog

SCI Fidelity Case Study

Case Study: Interview with Matt Hogan, SCI Fidelity Records

String Cheese Incident Wikipedia Page

Limewire Label Profile: SCI Fidelity

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