Michael Kaminsky of KMGMT—who manages the likes of Neck Deep, As It Is, Creeper, Tonight Alive and more—has announced a new project, Adventure Cat Records, and his first two signees: Capstan and Summer Wars.
Hear more about Kaminsky’s decision to launch Adventure Cat Records, along with new music videos for "Elysian Fields" from Capstan and "End Of An Era" from Summer Wars, below!
On beginning Adventure Cat Records with these two bands, Kaminsky explains that now was just the time to make this a reality—with two bands that truly inspired him.
“Sometimes you hear an act that inspires you to do more. In this case, it was two acts, and we started a record label just to work with them,” Kaminsky shares. “As a company that is deeply rooted in the scene, we couldn’t be more excited to work with Capstan and Summer Wars.”
You can read a more in-depth Q&A with Kaminsky about his decision to start Adventure Cat Records below.
What made you decide to start your own label after working with other labels for so long?
I grew up on Drive Thru Records and Vagrant Records- record labels that built a community, and with whom you could trust in quality. It felt like they only signed things they really loved, and I would camp out at Tower every Monday night to buy whatever new release they’d put out. Now that I’m more experienced on the business side of things, I do appreciate that the economics have changed quite a bit, and I have a new business model that I’ll looking to prove with the launch of the label!
What made you want to start Adventure Cat? Did you feel like their was a demand?
There’s a lot of great artists out there, but we’re very disciplined in our management signings. Generally we don’t sign anything new until our previous band is breaking, so it’s often two or more years between signings. We have so much great talent here at KMGMT, and we have so many different things we’re working on; I wanted to find a way to bring artists into our fold that we couldn’t sign to management, but that we just had to work with. We have an infrastructure that’s second to none. We can take a new artist, put them with our writers/producers, set them up to collect across all the different income streams, put them on the tours and festivals we’re involved with, print their merch, etc. And we can do that in a way that’s very fair and artist friendly!
What does Adventure Cat Records offer bands that other labels don't?
Our management company is very unusual in that we have always worked as a sort of record label. Our team works together, so our management clients always have a diverse group of people bringing ideas and lending their special talents. Now that we manage writers, producers, and composers, work in publishing, and have a merchandising division, we’re in a very unique place to offer a lot of value to new artists. I look at our label signings as being an Accelerator- we give you money to make an album and a video and do some marketing, but you also have a team of some very experienced managers behind you, all with no long term commitments. I would be very happy if our artists were able to build so much momentum that they were able to get extremely fair deals from more established labels within our scene!
Tell us about your experience in the music industry and how it shaped your decision to start your own label.
I started almost two decades ago making music videos. This was back before most things were digital, so I would work other jobs to raise money and then approach bands about shooting stuff for them. One of the earliest bands I worked with, I found on Napster and sent them an email and they slept on my couch for a couple days while we shot. That band was Taking Back Sunday, and as they started to see success, they invited me to join their management team, which changed my life. I worked with them on their first two albums. When they signed to Warner Bros, I left to go work with Kevin Lyman. My upbringing was a dream come true!! So I’ve been very fortunate to work with some of my favorite people, and see a lot that goes on behind the curtain. And one of those things is that, as an industry, we have to move faster and be more progressive with our ideas. A lot of things, especially contractually and structurally speaking, have not changed since the inception of the music industry. Let’s re-think what it means to be a ‘record label’ in the modern era!
Capstan - "Elysian Fields"
What do you look for in a band?
Great songs are good, but lots of bands have great songs. I look for drive. Does the band work well within a team infrastructure? Are they in this for ten years, or six months? And most importantly- do I like them as people? Would I invite them to come hang out when we’re not ‘working’?
What advice do you offer bands who are trying to "make it"?
Pick a metric you feel you’re good at, and focus on it. You don’t need to have a twitter, snapchat, instragram, facebook etc if you suck at most of them. All bands have strengths and weaknesses- be honest with yourself, and identify each. If you’re really clever, build your Twitter base. If you’re more visual, focus on Instagram. If you’re neither of those but you put on a hell of a good show, focus on ticket sales. I would 100000x look at a band that has a million YouTube views, or is selling out a club, than a band that has 50,000 across a bunch of different places.
What defines success for you?
It’s been almost 15 years of doing management and I still wake up every day happy and excited to go work.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Where do you see Adventure Cat Records in 5 years?
Honestly- I don’t want to change too much! I love the people I work with and we’re doing great things together. I would love if ACR could prove that it’s OK to try new things, and we’re looked at as a reputable breeding ground for new talent.
Where do you draw inspiration from when/if you feel like you hit a wall?
I love to read. I watch movies. At the end of the day, music is about telling stories, and there’s so many different mediums for that. Sometimes we need to see what other types of artists are up to before we’re able to get a fresh perspective on our own scene.
What about this scene do you love?
There is a community unlike any other I have seen in music. We support each other, we build things together, and we all win or lose together.
Summer Wars - "End Of An Era"
What are your thoughts on Adventure Cat Records and their first two signees? Let us know in the comments below!
Watch more: Capstan perform acoustic track “Reprieve” - watch