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This morning, Juan Donovan of local hip-hop production group/record label Darkroom Productions announced an exclusive partnership with indie powerhouse Koch Entertainment after over a year of deal-hunting with assorted major and indie labels. For a label that's been steadily on the rise, particularly with its Hamsterdam mixtapes and a slew of key placements in The Wire, it comes at just the right time. This afternoon we chatted via email with Donovan about what it all means. The main thing, he says, is "now, we are not only producers anymore, we are CEO's of our own business. A record label and multimedia company called Darkroom Enterprises. So we now have the ability to release music by our own artists or basically any kind of project we want with the arm and worldwide distribution of Koch Records." Without backing, "our mixtapes were basically underground. They moved by way of mom-and-pop record stores, the internet, bootleggers, and straight hand-to-hand," says Donovan. The deal also means that any Darkroom output will also be available on iTunes and Rhapsody. And that output is sure to increase with the Koch deal. "With a joint venture, we dictate these things ourselves. It's basically a trust by a major distributor that you know what you are doing and you don't need their help. So you only go to them to turn the album in and tell them when you are trying to put it out" Donovan says. "They could hate the album. It doesn't matter, they have to put it out." He also assures us Darkroom has total faith in the label, explaining "Koch gives their artists a lot of freedom. So many labels are interested in Baltimore artists, but the first thing they say when you sit with them is 'Well, we need to change this,' or 'This is the sound we want from you,' or 'You need to get this big-name artist to be on a song or this big-name producer to do a beat for you.' Baltimore is basically the top of the South and the bottom of the North. So they either want us to change to sound more Southern or change to sound more like we are from the East Coast. Man, f*ck that, I'm not from neither, I'm from Baltimore. This is who I am. This is who we are. This is what the world needs to hear. So we needed to go to a label that understood that."

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