Meet Needlejuice Records: Rescuing Music One Vinyl At A Time
If there’s one mantra that every musician, critic, or fan has heard, it’s that “digital is the future, physical product is dead”. One look at the statistics and this could not be more true, with physical sales accounting for a measly 10% of overall music revenue in 2019, with every hipster’s favorite, the vinyl record, only accounting for a microscopic 2% of revenue. As streaming grows at a rate faster than we can even comprehend, music’s CD and cassette-clad past fades further and further into the annals of history (bad news for my car, which only plays cassette tapes).
But there remains, just beneath the surface, a veritable army of music purists, who are not quite ready to let go of the old ways and will fight to the death to protect them. The few, the proud, the indie heads, we ride into battle atop horses made of vinyl, and we are not willing to go down without a fight.
But every great soldier needs his arsenal, and when it comes to physical product in the music industry, there is no greater armory than Needlejuice Records. A hidden gem of the indie industry, Needlejuice is, in its own words “an independent record label specializing in the physical release of alternative music. Our label is dedicated to the tangible, with a goal to create high-quality vinyl records, cassette tapes, and compact discs with ambitious aesthetic value.”
Distributing everything from vinyl, to CDs to cassettes, to even old fashion 8track tapes, Needlejuice feels like a blast from the past in the best way possible. Their artist roster is even more impressive, featuring the psychedelic indie sounds of bands like King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard and Nuclear Bubble Wrap.
As one of the owners, Jace McLain, put it “We do a lot of quirky internet music as it were, but what we do encapsulates the eclectic taste of the 3 people who run it”
Their artist directory also features some experimental groups, such as Lemon Demon and Eldren. These artists are more than just musicians, as many of them are also animators, visual artists, videographers, and much much more. They are truly artists in pure form, something that is so rare in today’s over-commodified music industry. Everything about Needlejuice, from their psychedelic team of artists to their commitment to the old guard of music, feels like a renaissance of the 60s and I could not be happier.
Aside from their star-studded roster, Needlejuice prides itself on a true sense of community, directly reaching their artists and their fans through a Discord server that allows for artists and fans to talk in real-time. For a company that is bringing back the past, they sure know the future, serving as a model for the indie community and for music as a whole. Especially in the pandemic, direct artist to fan connection has never been more important, with the biggest labels pouring billions of dollars into social media. Needlejuice has built a community from the ground up, creating a system where fans can talk directly not only to the artists they love but to the label that distributes their music. Fans can do everything from request special prints of certain music, to even contribute to major artist decisions such as production and marketing.
In this day and age, with technology evolving at a rate faster than ever before, it is so rare to find a company that can simultaneously revive the past and embrace the future. Vinyl, CD, 8Track, Cassette, you name it, they got it. Needlejuice records is a beacon of light in the indie music industry, churning out high-quality physical music. that can remind all of us that the old ways of music never truly die, you just have to dig a little under the surface.
Arie Likhtman is a double major in music industry studies and Critical Communication and Media Studies with a minor in philosophy at Butler University. Originally from St.Louis Missouri, he has played music since the age of 4, studying everything from classical piano to ballroom dance to saxophone. He is deeply passionate about all aspects of music from the hot 100 charts to underground indie rock. He hopes to use his voice as a writer to bring new artists to the forefront of the conversation, and to offer new perspectives on music, culture, and society as a whole