Business of the Month: 4-4-2 Music

Business name:

4-4-2 Music


Western Sydney, Australia

Business website:

Short summary of business:

A boutique label releasing short run vinyl and CD releases, as well as digital only download releases. 4-4-2 Music is not defined by genre.

What’s your history in the industry?

4-4-2 Music was originally started up by the (then) two members of Telafonica to release their own music in 2001. Since then, it has grown to release the music of a wide variety of music from artists around the globe, but with a loose focus on Australia. In that time, a couple of Australia Council grants over the years (one to pay artists for a regular live performance series the label ran, another for advertising for releases) have provided impetus for the label’s growth. The label’s focus, however, has always been about being a platform for artists to release music in the way that best suits themselves, rather than seeking to be any sort of player in the ‘industry’.

How long has 4-4-2 Music been around?

We’re heading towards our 15th year now.

Do you have any interesting stories?

One of my favourite things about the label is that it’s actually enabled me to meet some of my heroes. In the early, 2000s, Telafonica was playing a gig in a club in Sydney. Andy Rantzen, of Itch-E & Scratch-E fame, was also on the bill, but in a different room. Andy finished his set half way through ours and was walking through our room to leave. I happened to come out off the stage area during a section I wasn’t involved in performing, to listen to how it was sounding out front. Andy walked over to me and told me that he really liked the music and we had a brief, 30 second or so chat. Now, Andy Rantzen was like a musical god to me – Itch-E & Scratch-E had been probably the single biggest influence on me getting right into electronic music. So this was mind blowing to me!!! Anyway, emboldened by our brief conversation, I contacted him later and asked if he’d be interested in contributing a track to a compilation the label was putting together. He immediately sent me an entire disc of unreleased music. Since then, Andy and I have become great friends and the lable has been systematically re-releasing his old, out of print catalogue, as well as putting out his new work as he creates it. He’s our biggest seller and was one of the main excuses to help us get into releasing vinyl as we knew we could sell enough copies to cover our costs because he has a world-wide following. Without the label, I doubt that relationship would have ever happened.

Why did you start 4-4-2 Music?

In the late 1990s/early 2000s, a number of small labels, specifically serving the electronic music scene, were popping up in Sydney and beyond. Labels like Groovescooter, Clan Analogue, Thunk, were all putting out music by people we saw at gigs and in clubs to a narrow audience but who would, otherwise, have no outlet to do this. This inspired us (the two members of Telafonica at the time) greatly and so, using some of the advice we’d got from talking to those labels, decided to simply do it ourselves to release our own music, so we started with a double EP, titled ‘dos’ put out on CD. We were playing quite a few gigs at the time, and had also made connections with other artists around Australia and the world via the then very very new world (this was pre even the Myspace era) of social media – places like, mailing lists etc. With these connections, we decided it would be nice to start putting out some compilations of the music we really liked, so put a few of these together. We also began running regular live shows and the styles of music widened significantly in these and helped us meet other artists who then used the small, hands on nature of the label as a way to have their own music released. So the label grew quite organically over those first few years from something set up just for ourselves into something that others have come in and out of. Our main focus has always been to allow the artists to get the music out in whatever way they think would best serve them, rather than being dictated to by a label.

How many hours per week do you spend on your business?

Depending on how many releases we have coming around it can shift from 1 or 2 hours per week to 20 or 30 hours a week.

What is it about your business that’s gotten you this far?

To realise that, for us, it’s not going to be about being part of the ‘industry’. We are too small a label to be able to push artists into the faces of the general population. In a lot of ways, the label acts as a training ground to teach artists how to go about doing stuff for themselves, which everyone can do fairly simply now, but artists often don’t have the confidence to do it. We often show them how simple it actually is to get going then they can move on to bigger and better things themselves. So our focus is very realistic – we’re not planning on making any money at all so are not at all disappointed when we don’t! But we do love the music. I guess, if you’re after business tips, we’re not the place to come! I’m a terrible business person and could just as soon do without it completely.

What are your favourite parts of your business?

Inspiring artists to get their music out into the world and seeing the positive effect it has on them when they start getting feedback on their work.

What are your future goals?

To carry on as we always have.

Do you have any tips for succeeding in the music industry?

The music ‘industry’ is dead. It had a good 100 years’ run, but it’s over now and has gone back to what is has been for the rest of the tens of thousands of years of human history. So, make music because it makes the world a better place. Strive to do keep doing it, but be realistic – there’s probably only a few thousand artists world-wide who can live solely off their own music, so don’t be disappointed that you are joining the vast majority of artists throughout history for whom music is one part of their well-rounded lives, and use the rest of your life as inspiration for your art.

What’s the best way to contact you?