The Record Company 2004

The Stereo Society record company grew from the studio, which gives it the foundation for making independent albums 'by people who should be making records, who should be heard making records'.  These are often different from the stylistic norm.  Although Mike Thorne's production experience had been occasionally dramatically successful with unusual and left-field records, that was not the normal direction for the larger record business.  An independent record company was the only solution.  Who else would touch a first album with five different singers over a horn section and techno?  Who would sign a singer with a deep bass voice singing about 'the little wiggly pig' over a dance beat?  A microtonal setting of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, anyoneThe Stereo Society's recordings can at least claim to be different.

Although the record company proper was initially created to sell 'Thorne' albums, specifically the first one, Sprawl, it was obviously and quickly became the vehicle for a few earlier albums created pro bono (rough translation: for the sheer hell of it).  So things got bigger.  One album which had come out on the artists' independent label was Cry Tomorrow, originally on the Reds' Tarock Music.  The album from Hilly Kristal, here titled Mad Mordechai, was one of the earliest started, with the classic track Mud.  An original idea for a six-track party album on vinyl (courtesy of the dance scenes and their persistence with this medium) slowly transmuted into the tracks here, which still include three extended numbers.  A limited-edition vinyl single of Mud was issued on the CBGB & OMFUG label in 1996, happily entering quite a few stylistically confused playlists around the US.

Johnny Reinhard's album Raven had resulted from an encounter at his American Festival of Microtonal Music based in New York City, which he directs every summer.  His advocacy of microtonality, reflecting his own compositional attitude, has attracted many talented musicians to his concerts, and to play his own unique compositions.  Reinhard's work, always based on accessible ideas, is compelling for the listener in unexpected ways, and rewarding and challenging for the players.

Thorne's Sprawl is an ambitious production with forceful performances from a number of artists who might loosely be considered as occasional part-time members of the Stereo Society 'repertory company'.  A different approach to record-making, 'Thorne' is a group sound, a collaborative effort with a clear focus on songs and their forceful delivery.  Mike Thorne's retirement from commercial record production, after a career which placed his production credit on perhaps 25 million records worldwide, is final.  However, his record-making continues, thanks to a tightly-integrated group of collaborators.

The first releases in 1999 were Thorne's Sprawl, Hilly Kristal's Mad Mordechai, Johnny Reinhard's Raven, and the Reds' reworked Cry Tomorrow.  All still come with a full-color, 16-page booklet.  They are generally not available in stores, since we can't compete with the major record companies in record store ('atomic') distribution.  However, online presentation and selling is very appropriate for less-established acts, or those just starting out, acts that typically get ignored by the majors or disappear in the rush to promote the established big sellers.  It's silly for us to go to all the mass publicity effort to get someone to go into a record store (probably not a weekly habit anyway) on the off chance that our CD is there.  Online, you know it's always available, even if you have to wait a couple of days for the mail. 

In April of 2000, BETTY's Carnival was released to wide acclaim. These three activist women had a hard time fitting in with the conventions of the record business, despite their accessibility and writing/singing skills. That something was working was obvious shortly after their appearance on Scott Simon's US National Public Radio show, which propelled the CD to #8 in Amazon's sales chart. Many thanks to those of you who helped.

As of writing, June 2004, there are five further CD projects nearing completion. We anticipate most to be released by year's end.

As well as mail-order CDs, we will offer all the tracks for direct digital download in a compressed form that takes perhaps 15 minutes online (dial-up) to download per typical track (for average 56K modems).  (We used to offer Liquid Audio downloads, but are now looking for a better virtual store.) We also offer one free download from each album, in MP3 format, as well as about a minute of free download sample of every track. handles our online sales and orders [now in 2013 we use CD Baby].  Meanwhile, we function like an instantly accessible record store, like the old American mom-and-pop version where the person behind the counter has opinions and advice.  You can hang out for some time before making your informed decision about the CD you would take to the party on Saturday night.  Here, you have to wait a few days for your goods in the mail (or 15 minutes for your track), but that's the only drawback (and this distribution will get quicker with improved warehousing and faster modems). By way of additional compensation, note our low prices......

Online, we are all making up the rules as we go along.  Things will change, and that's a promise.  But only for the better.