When Pete Johnson digitally released an album from his indie rock group Shyneboxx last week on his indie label Surely Music, he had a detailed marketing campaign in place.

That’s because Johnson, a guitarist who wrote, arranged and produced Shyneboxx’s Gig in Hoboken, has long been involved in independent music distribution.

He’s served since 1997 as East Coast sales rep for the venerable Memphis independent distribution company Select-O-Hits, which was co-founded by Sun Records’ legendary Sam Phillips.

“Ten years ago I was sharing office space with a music marketing company,” Johnson recalls. “A guy there said he was getting clients for radio campaigns but with no product in the stores, and wondered if I’d be interested in starting a label. So we started Mia Mind Music, and have put out some 50 records of mostly local acts.”

Mia Mind partners with other labels or artists, who pay an upfront fee for promotion and marketing services and distribution through Select-O-Hits. Deals are structured according to the needs and wishes of each client, notes Johnson, who ballparks sales of 450-500 CDs for artists to recoup the enrollment fee, the deal then reverting to an 80-20 split in favor of the artist on future sales.

Mia Mind artists include Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken, whose Cryptovision label and 2010 solo album Late Music go through Mia Mind, and Television guitarist Richard Lloyd, whose Sufi Monkey Records releases are likewise marketed via that route.

“If an artist is not at that stage, I can filter his one project through my Surely Music label,” Johnson notes. “I always tell the artist, if they do not think they can sell 500 cds, then they probably do not need distribution through Select-o-Hits, and can distribute themselves. It weeds out the pretenders and makes it a real functioning record label.”

As for Johnson’s new Shyneboxx album, it, too, is grounded in independent music business realities.

As the album title suggests, it’s a concept record about the modern performing musician who gigs while working a day job. Both Diken and Lloyd appear as guests along with Bongos/Ian Hunter guitarist James Mastro, Dictators bassist Andy Shernoff, Aquanettas/Mike Hunt Band guitarist Jill Richmond (also Johnson’s wife) and other esteemed locals.

“Jill got Richard Lloyd to produce one of her records,” notes Johnson. “I’d been in bands, and never gave up writing songs—and I realized I had all these resources at my fingertips.”

Johnson has in fact written rock and country songs, and played in a hardcore punk band before forming Godboxx, which became Shineboxx. Gig’s concept, he relates, involves 10 tracks—starting with “Get In The Back Of The Van” and ending with “Bowery 3AM”—depicting one night in the life of a rock band playing a gig in New York.

“I try to tie together both the business nad creative aspects of my career,” notes Johnson, adding that he wants to continue his music side without having to tour in support of it.

“I’m a student of rock ‘n’ roll and figure that if Harry Nilsson could do what he did without doing live gigs, I don’t have to tour all over the country,” he says. “My goal is not to sell a million records—the thought of just pressing even 10,000 records is a lot of money!”

To market Gig, Johnson has set radio promotion, retail and publicity programs in the key markets of New York, New Jersey, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, San Franscisco, Philadelphia and Miami. But the first step in music marketing, of course, is the album cover design: Record album art aficionados will no doubt recognize that the artist who did Gig’s cover is none other than Lou Beach, whose classic album cover art includes the Neville Brothers Fiyo On The Bayou and Yellowjackets’ Samurai Samba.

The Gig

Surely Music / SRML 8901

UPC – 097037089016

Release Date: March 20, 2012

Suggested Retail: $13.99

One Sheet

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