Polyvinyl Record Co.
Darcie Knight Lunsford
|Country of origin||United States|
Polyvinyl Record Company was formed by Matt Lunsford and Darcie Knight in 1994, while the two were still in high school. Its origins were a result of the growing music scene in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, when Lunsford and Knight created a publication called the Polyvinyl Press. As the publication grew, the connections with independent, label-less artists grew, and the July 1995 issue of Polyvinyl Press included a joint 7" EP with Back of Dave and Walker. Lunsford and Knight then began to selling records at local shows for friends' bands which had virtually no distribution. To transition the Polyvinyl name from fanzine to label, the last issue of Polyvinyl Press (published in May 1996) included a compilation titled Direction – a 20-track album that documented the mid-‘90s midwestern D.I.Y. scene in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.
The first major releases came with Rainer Maria's debut album in 1997 and Braid's Frame and Canvas in 1998, which gave the label its first national exposure and opened the gates for a wider repertoire of artists.
Mainstream success for Polyvinyl came with of Montreal's 2005 album The Sunlandic Twins, which produced three successful singles and national television and media exposure and increased the visibility of all Polyvinyl Records artists. Responding to the expansion, Polyvinyl created a San Francisco branch of the company in 2008. Polyvinyl currently has a family of 21 bands, including international names such as Norway's synthpop group Casiokids and Australia's Architecture in Helsinki, and has released over 200 albums.
Polyvinyl Record Co. is considered one of Kickstarter's earliest success stories. In 2009, Lunsford used the crowd funding service to clear 10,000 albums worth of surplus inventory. The donors' award packages were structured to resemble a clearance sale, with $5 donations receiving a concert DVD, $15 donations receiving five albums and a concert DVD, and so on. The original goal was set at $1,000.
“We set the goal modestly in retrospect, since everything we’d done in the past was a very slow methodical process to reduce overstock. And we assumed this would follow the same path,” Lunsford said during an interview with Jenna Wortham. “But this took off in a way that none of the other methods have done in the past.”
The label has since been using Kickstarter as a way to estimate the audience interest in albums and other projects before ordering copies.
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