Inside Matt Sage’s brick house is an old blue luggage case with a lone sticker on it that reads, “Patient Sounds.” It’s the name of the music label that Sage, a senior poetry major and Fort Collins native, runs. And inside the case are a few dozen of the label’s releases.
The releases are sold out of Sage’s house either at shows or over the Internet, where 80 percent of Patient Sound’s business comes from.
What sets Patient Sounds apart from many other home run labels in Colorado, however, is that the recordings are sold not as CDs, but as tapes.
The tapes are an oddity in a day when most music is either sold or downloaded in a digital format. Patient Sounds is a small facet of the resurging tape label scene, which has gained prominence thanks to, ironically, the Internet age.
Patient Sounds began in mid-2009 when Sage decided to end his previous label, Fir Trader’s Union, and start something new.
The first release on the new label was Sage’s band, M. Pyres’, first album, “Consider Me Ghost.”
In addition to M. Pyres, Patient Sounds has four other tape releases from Littoral Drift, Cochise, Smelly Magic and Lush Cola. Each release is limited to a batch of 100 tapes.
Like most people his age, the first music Sage ever bought was on a tape.
“I think I got into tapes because I used to listen to tapes as a kid, and there was a quality of nostalgia for me. Another big thing is that they are way cheaper to produce than CD-Rs. They’re super cheap. You can make a batch of 100 tapes with cases for 40 dollars and sell those for 1 dollar and make 60 dollars,” Sage said.
Tape Labels in the Modern Scene
The tape label scene throughout the country is linked through the growing number of music blogs and websites that promote tape as the preferred way to enjoy music.
Greta Cornett, co-founder of the Fort Collins Musicians Association, said the model of what a record company can be has completely changed not only at a local level, but at a national and even international level thanks to the Internet.
“Kids have always thought outside the box anyway, and so what you see is that the indie record labels at a local or regional level are the ones that are showing the most sustainability. So it’s kind of cool that we’ve got one in town,” Greta said.
The hype surrounding tape labels is so large that an NPR segment titled “All Tech Considered” recently featured a story about the technological aspects surrounding the tape label resurgence.
Patient Sounds was the focus tape label for the report.
“I wanted to be like, ‘this is silly. You realize that, right?’ I’m not here to talk to you about why tapes are technologically superior to CD-Rs. I’m here to tell you that I have fun making tapes. It’s a personal preference,” Sage said.
This national attention runs counter course to the approach Patient Sounds and many other tape labels take to making available their music.
Pride in the Process
Sage buys his blank tapes through a “sketchy” Internet wholesaler and finds or purchases vintage machines to dub the tapes, Sage said.
“I grew up a punk rocker. Punk ethics is at the center of this,” Sage said.
Sage has complete control over the process of purchasing the tapes, dubbing them, packaging, artwork and distribution.
“A Tape label that is actually working and productive is a rarity in Fort Collins. The Grass roots approach that Patient Sounds employs has a direct relationship to every step in the process,” said Erik Wangsvick, a CSU student and member of M. Pyres and who records solo under the name Wrecked.
And it’s the process that Sage professes to enjoy most. The label is currently a business he works on when he can find time between school and work.
Patient Sounds is set to release five new batches of tapes at the beginning of 2011 from bands Weed Diamond, M. Pyres, Kites Sail High, Bingo Pajamas and Wrecked.
And after December, when Sage graduates, he hopes to turn Patient Sounds into the label that he wants it to be.
“It’s not that I want to run a record label for the rest of my life, but I can see this in 10 years being an outlet for me. Putting my friends’ music out on tapes and on vinyl. To make available a lot of this art that I think people need access to that is just happening in people’s basements or bedrooms,” Sage said.
Staff writer Nic Turiciano can be reached at email@example.com.
Visit: http://patientsounds.blogspot.com/ for info on Patient Sound bands and how to
Additional tape labels to explore:
- Mirror Universe Tapes,
- Leftist Nautical Antiques,
- Arbor Tapes,
- Not not fun Productions