"We know what's goth for you"

M&A MusicArt - The story so far...

M&A Music Art was established in May 1993 by Mikael and Andreas (check out the link for some info about them), two unemployed blokes in south Sweden with a fervent interest for gothic music. The reason why we started were quite simple: we wanted to release something by Funhouse who weren't happy with their record label back then; Accelerating Blue Fish, who were more into industrial and experimental bands. Today we are still more or less the same people involved. Mikael has by tradition handled all the lay-out and artwork for our releases, adverts and posters. Andreas is responsible for the money bit, the contracts and promotional activities, A&R and release schedules. Mikael came up with the name "Music Art" as it sounded quite well and also stands for the fact that we want to release music with a quality and not just things we can make money on... As for the M&A, well, it's simply taken from our names.

We have never got around to set a definite motto for what we're doing, but you can generally say that we release and promote bands to help them get anywhere with their careers. We want to help good bands release records and play live, so that they get people's attention and if they're good enough, people will like them. Thus we can sell more records (and sometimes even get our money back!!!), the band can release another album, get more attention (perhaps national radio air time, etc) and eventually a major label will notice them and even sign them. If this happens we feel we have succeeded, M&A will get some money (as we still can sell the back-catalogue etc), the band a big record deal and the gothic scene some attention. The major labels need gothic bands - they just don't know it yet! This isn't something that Mikael and I have discussed when drawing out our plans, but we both know we're too small to house a band with the ambitions of selling, say 100.000 copies per country, so here we are...

We started out as we wanted to release something by Funhouse and we also registrered the firm as a booking agency to book gig for our and other labels' bands back in 1993. Things went reasonably well (still at a small scale) and we realised that we could release other bands too, who got in touch with us. Thus we signed Medicine Rain from Kalmar, Sweden, and released their debut album "Native".

In a record shop in London I found a 12" from a band called Children on Stun. I liked it a lot and as they had obviously released the EP themselves I wrote to them and offered them a contract. Unfortunately they had just signed to Cleopatra but eventually I would get their signatures on the dotted line and also book two European tours for them! Eventually we've ended up spending more time on the record label and less on the booking agency, probably because neither me nor Mikael are really any sales persons, which you often have to be to pursue people that goth bands aren't necessarilly crap and that people WILL come to their concerts!

Through the years bands have come and gone, but it's still a buzz to hear someone speak well of one of your bands or even to see your records in places like Tower Records in London!

We've also done The Witches of Easter festival at Thursday before Easter in Sweden and occasionally we organize goth gigs in Malmö/Lund region. Simply because no one else does it... Or at least used to. That part of the scene is almost dead in Sweden but every now and then someone puts something on, like an one-off or so. Still it's better than nothing. The thing is that the outstanding best way to promote a band and its releases is through concerts, concerts and concerts. Local gigs, gigs elsewhere in the country and gigs abroad. As many as possible. Unfortunately it's difficult for bands to get gigs and even for us as a booking agency, but it's without a doubt the best promotion you can get. So in this respect it's very sad that there is no live scene for goth bands in Sweden because it makes it almost impossible for a new band to get wider known and gain experience. After that I'd honestly say that working closely with fanzines is good promotion. Even though the number of readers isn't very high, the people who read are into the scene and the persons who write them usually know what they are talking about. It takes time to promote bands through fanzines, that's for sure, but in the long run it pays off.

If there are any bands out there thinking of sending us a demo then I have one important remark: PLEASE MARK THE CD-R's!!! We usually get 3-5 demos a week and rarely anyone is marked. Imagine the problems if you leave them lying about on the desk or the stereo for a few days and then you listen to it (we always plays everything at least twice and write a personal reply) you can't find the matching cover... Nowadays we only get CD-R's and that's quite convenient. Generally I think people spend too much time on the presentation, which I find unimportant. We listen to the music. If we like that but find the presentation non-existent you can always find professional people to do that for you. But if you get a well-packaged crap band, you still won't sign them! Most of our bands we have signed on contacts, i.e. bands that I have known about for a long time and snapped when they wanted to change record label. This was the case with Funhouse, Children on Stun, Spares, Never Mind and Dawn of Oblivion. Dark Side Cowboys, The Mist of Avalon and Into the Void were signed through demos.

We judge the quality of the songs and performance (never ever the quality of the recording!) and their originality. As we have a series of compilations coming out under the name of "Angel Child" I try to get interesting bands a place there as a starter, to get the buyers' and media's reaction to the band as well as to get a chance to find out how they are to work with as individuals. Keeping deadlines, keeping budgets, keeping agreements etc - there are many strains on the road to release a record and sometimes you find out that things aren't going to work in the long run. We aim to have the definition "quality" on all our releases, but it's up to the people who buy our records to judge if we achieve that or not. If people who are into gothic music, see a CD in their local record shop and decide to buy it without having heard the band before, but because it's released by M&A Music Art then I think we will have achieved something. We have a healthy relationship with our business partners in other countries, Resurrection Records in the UK etc, but also there are a few indie labels in Sweden who work closely together. M&A, Energy Rekords, Subspace Communications and Memento Materia are often involved in projects together where we help each other out, cutting costs by working together and stuff like that. Which is nice.

Background angel photo copyright by Per-Åke Wärn at Monokrom Photos