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Subversive, edgy magazine brand succeeds with music that shakes kids up

August 31, 2005

Vice Recordings is the music arm of the expanding media empire of Vice, that includes a magazine and film division. Vice is best known for its edgy hipster magazine that constantly pushes the envelope of taste and style. However, it’s their record label that in the last three years has been getting some considerable buzz. Vice has signed some of the more interesting acts in the music scene including; The Streets and more recently Bloc Party, who’ve been building significant critical acclaim since their April release of their debut album, Silent Alarm. This album has sold over 120,000 units.

There is an interesting story on how the record division got started according to a writer at the Columbia Spectator , Columbia University’s student newspaper.

“When in a meeting with Atlantic Records, the editors of Vice magazine simply happened to ask why Atlantic wasn’t putting the Streets in the U.S., when the albums were on international divisions of Atlantic’s parent company, Warner. The response was basically a line about how they only care about profit and how that album, despite being one of the best of that year, wouldn’t move enough units to make it worthwhile. The head honchos at Atlantic then turned around, and in the grand tradition of put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is challenges, gave Vice a check to start an imprint on Atlantic and release the albums on their own.”

These guys are truly passionate about their acts and throw everything they have into making them work. General Manager, Adam Shore’s take on where Vice sits in the music scene is an interesting one.

“I feel like there has been created, in the past two to three years, an indie-yuppie establishment. Bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Iron and Wine, the Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, they are great bands, really great bands, with great albums, great songs, high quality. And to me, it’s just so $%#%% boring,” he says. “It’s like fancy-coffee-drinking, Volvo-riding music for kids. And kids should be listening to music that shakes them up more, makes them uncomfortable.” I don’t think we’re ever going to sign an indie rock band.” I want to sign stuff that is more immediate and shakes you up a bit.”

There’s another interview with here Adam Shore

Vice is clearly a great example of a contemporary passion brand with a strong set of ideas and ideals that even the mighty Atlantic Records could not compete with or resist working with. It also illustrates that with industry consolidation, companies are just getting too big and there are opportunities in the cracks. Vice just happened to be the right brand at the right time ready to pick up the juicy morcels that were being neglected on Atlantic’s table.

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