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The Self-Made Man: Joe Sib

We’ve profiled a lot of interesting self made men here at TSB, but SideOneDummy Records co-founder Joe Sib might be our most unique subject yet. For one thing, Joey Ramone threw his bachelor party. If we’re trying to define what makes someone cool, that tops the list. Sib was also the frontman for the L.A. pop-punk band Wax, whose crowning achievement was a music video (directed by Spike Jonze) featuring a guy on fire running down the street.

For another thing, Joe didn’t see himself as an entrepreneur, nor did he want to be one. He grew up skateboarding and listening to punk rock in San Jose, and dreamed of singing in a punk band. Otherwise, his ambitions didn’t extend too far beyond “beer in one hand, clove cigarette in the other.” However, his latent business instincts crept on him over time. He found that he was always the guy booking shows, finding practice space, getting gear together, renting the van, and even though he hated being the responsible one, he discovered that he was good at it. By the time he was singing for Wax, he’d fully embraced his role as the businessman.

SideOneDummy started after Wax got dumped by their record label and Joe moved in with Bill Armstrong, who loved music as much as he did. Since they each wanted to start their own record labels, they decided to pool their resources and start one together.

SideOneDummy’s motto and core business strategy, according to Joe, is “if you signed this band, would you would follow them around in your own car and sell the CD out of your own back seat?” Basically, instead of signing bands whose music is already a safe bet to move lots of units, they sign bands they love and promote the hell out of them. It’s not a perfect system, but they did bring us Flogging Molly, Gogol Bordello, Gaslight Anthem, and a really good Mighty Mighty Bosstones album, so it’s hard to fault their taste.

Looking to the future, Joe is optimistic about the music industry, particularly on the independent level. While he acknowledges that young bands need mentors, he loves the fact that “you can record a record on Friday night…mix it on Saturday…do the artwork on Sunday, and on Monday you can throw it out there for the rest of the world to see it.” He also credits most indie labels’ survival to low overhead costs and passionate employees, as opposed to major labels that are bleeding out employees who were in the music industry for the wrong reasons.

Joe doesn’t give a lot of talks about entrepreneurship, although he’s more than qualified to do so, but he did have a talk show called Complete Control where he and a variety of musicians and comedians talked shop. I’ll close out with the Nick 13 episode, but watch the rest of the playlist; Joe’s an upbeat, glass-half-full kind of guy, and we here at TSB think that’s an important attitude for any budding entrepreneur to have.

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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.

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