We Are Triumphant is a Boston, MA based Metal/Hardcore label with a proclaimed catalog of over 40 releases and 30,000 album sales since it’s establishment in 2011. Needless to say, the label and it’s founder, Greg Long, have caught some notable attention in the 4 short years of business. Recently, Long and his label have come under fire from Music Blogs, YouTubers, and even Roster Alumni concerning some of policies and procedures at the Label. We caught up with Long to help provide some transparency for fans and bystanders on how things are actually operated at We Are Triumphant.
Greg, thank you for taking the time to respond to this interview. Let’s start with some of the basics. Did you attend any sort of schooling in pursuit of this career path?
When I was younger, I didn’t know where I would end up in the music industry. I just wanted to be a part of it. I entered into the New England Art Institute to pursue a career in Audio Engineering with some classes fixated on the industry. Audio Engineering wasn’t for me, I was much more interested in the business side of things. I ended up dropping out to go on tour I booked with a band I was managing at the time called Major League (No Sleep Records.)
Your label is still incredibly young, have you been able to step away from a day job?
Yes, I’ve stepped far far away from a ”normal” job. At the start of the label I was only making a few hundred dollars a month if that working the label. At the time though I was either living at home or with a girlfriend. So I didn’t have any bills to pay. I took advantage of having no overhead to build up enough income to move out and do it full time.
What drives you to release new music in such a declining market?
I get excited about music, when I hear something I enjoy that isn’t getting the attention it deserves it bothers me and I know I have the power to change that. That drives me to release new music. It’s never been about owning a big house or a nice car to me.
Have you ever worked in any other parts of the industry? If so, where and under who?
As a ”DIY” label for most of its existence I’ve played the part of a booking agent, manager, label, publicist, plenty of times. I’ve never worked for another organization or a company though.
With the mounting number of releases the label has done, what sort of team do you work with?
Recently we’ve teamed up with Earshot Media for our press needs. We’ve been with Victory Records for manufacturing and distribution for a few years now. Leanna our in-house graphic artist works with us for all our cosmetic needs.
Is there an office space or is this still more of a grassroots operation?
We Are Triumphant is a very grassroots operation. I run the label out of an office in my apartment. We’ve got the works though, desks, coffee mugs, and more computer screens then I know how to deal with. I even have a desk plaque. ((Thanks Katie.))
You’ve recently come under fire for stealing content from a YouTuber’s channel and re-uploading it under your company’s Facebook page. While the video in all rights was launched into Viral success, earning over 2 million streams and nearly 40,000 shares, what was your thought process on this move?
I had set a goal that week to reach 1,000,000 people through our Facebook page. Something we had not done before. If you follow any of the big community pages on Facebook or even celebrities such as Ludacris, you will notice that all they do all day is upload content (they found online) and re-post it with a ”Like” *their page here* under it. Sometimes even watermarking it with their own logos. I decided to give it a try. I had uploaded a video and it went viral. I had credited the author, and got in touch with him after it started to get a lot of attention. He never asked me to remove them so I never did. At the end of the day both parties got an extreme amount of exposure. During the midst of this the author’s attitude changed, what he was conveying to me personally was not what he had started to publicly put across but there never was a feud like people made it out to be. Since then, I haven’t really spoken with him. To this day if he wanted the videos off my channel that got him all this attention I would take them down in a heartbeat. But something tells me he’s enjoying his new fan base.
Why not ask an artist from your roster to recreate the videos and create your own series instead of the file ripping?
We’ve been on the look out for an official person for just that. Don’t you worry!
What were some of your favorite labels and releases growing up?
Drive-Thru Records, Victory Records, Tooth & Nail, Ferret Music, Bridge 9, Deathwish, to name a few. Victory Records was always my favorite growing up. They had Bayside, Bury Your Dead, Emmure, A Day To Remember, Silverstein, Taking Back Sunday, so many favorite artists of mine growing up.
All I did was listen to music, I’d go on Last.FM and just search for new bands all day. I would rip music off the Last.FM’s radio into a folder just to check out new stuff constantly. Music when you are younger is such an escape you know? You spend so much of your time as a kid being told what to do, think, eat, how to spend your time. Music was something that all those people could never change and you could always turn to.
However, if I had to name a few of my favorite releases growing up. These would make the list: Bury Your Dead – Cover Your Tracks, Bayside – Bayside, Brand New – Deja Entendu, Saves The Day – Stay What You Are, Emmure – Goodbye To The Gallows, The Acacia Strain – The Dead Walk, Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe
Is there anyone you can credit as a mentor to your current knowledge of the recording industry?
The only way to learn about the music industry is to be in it, and experience it from my perspective. I’ve never had a mentor per say. There’s plenty of people who I have looked up to such as Craig from Rise, Tony from Victory and Ash from Sumerian. All people I respect who have come before me in this alternative world and have been very successful.
There has also been some controversy concerning the legitimacy of some of the recording agreements that you offer your artists – What exactly are you offering low income bands?
I think this question could be quite confusing for the reader because that last part should read no income bands. 99% of the bands we sign are their debut releases, they haven’t played outside of their tri-state area and don’t have any sales numbers, tour history, or an online following. I always laugh at people who say that we take ”advantage” of artists. I tell every artist we sign if we sign you today we make a whopping nothing over the next 6 months unless we get involved because it’s true. Potential is great and all but it doesn’t pay the bills. Bands can have the most incredible music, but that doesn’t mean it will go anywhere. There’s countless artists out there that have awesome releases that are not making anything off of it. We Are Triumphant has always focused on putting out the best bands the underground has to offer. So in short, we offer to change all that. We get our artists noticed, which gets them fans, which gets them solid numbers, which helps them sell merch and get on tours and just opens up all sorts of opportunities. We do the normal things, like front product, and our funding with artists who have been on the label to have history with us get help based on their sales history. Pretty normal routine. Do we pay for you to record a 10 song album, buy you a van, buy you on to a tour, no. Why? Because we don’t have the same bank account that labels who have been around for 10+ years have and we don’t operate like said labels. They cherry pick artists, they know how much their last album cycle profited so they can say okay this band made 50k on their last record we can at least expect that back with this next release. Here’s 20k. That’s not how our wheels spin.
Are you in partnership with a distributor?
Yes, Victory Records.
Are you receiving attention from ADA or is this entirely separate from Victory’s distro’?
Do you fund albums entirely upfront?
It all depends on the situation but 99% of the time we sign a new artist they already have an EP or LP ready to go. If they have been with the label and are going in to record we look at our sales history with the artist to see how much we can invest if needed.
You mentioned earlier that you split your deals down the middle. Typically when a band has provided their own recording budget and have a record ‘ready-to-go’, the label will license the record for 15% while the artist receives 85% in exchange for some sort of marketing budget. Doesn’t that seem a bit unfair to offer even splits – why this approach?
I don’t know what labels you are referring to when you say ”typically” but I’m guessing they are not similar to us. I’ve never had any issues offering 50/50 splits to our artists in 4 years. Typically when I bring on a band that doesn’t have any sales history or have proven themselves yet they have no problem in building that value equally with me. I don’t think it’s unfair at all. To even make the bands profitable it will take a solid 8-9 months from the start to even get any traction. So to ask for 1/2 of something that you build from the ground up with an artist doesn’t seem to bother me or our bands.
Is there a marketing budget, tour support, etc?
As far as marketing goes, we pay our publicist to work all our records on retainer. All of our social media promotion is organic. Tour support if you mean just flat out money to give to the bands before they go on tour, no. But we provide them with physical product on the road and of course promote those runs.
Do you ask for a bands’ publishing? If so, what does your sync department look like?
Most of our bands split publishing with us, but there hasn’t been many instances where we have been able to place music in alternative outlets. A lot of our catalog isn’t ”friendly” to the everyday person or isn’t commercial enough for publishing to come into play.
If your catalog doesn’t typically tend to receive placement, then why ask for the publishing?
Because if we build an artist up to that point we want to be able to be involved.
Do you ask for splits on things like merchandise or tour sales?
We provide the merchandise on tours so we see a split from that. We don’t take money from guarantee’s or any other profit made on tour.
Is there any outside funding coming into the label or is this a ‘DIY or DIE’ sort of thing?
No, we don’t have any outside funding. We’ve never needed it.
What obligation are your artist’s entitled to fulfilling and how long do your album agreements typically last?
Putting out awesome music, and typically 3 records after the initial release.
Give me your thoughts on the ‘State Of The Industry’. Where do you see things headed as a label owner and how do you intend to combat plummeting sales models?
I was never part of the music industry prior to illegal downloading, so I can’t really comment on the state of the music industry today compared to that. I’m not worried about plummeting sales or cd’s being irrelevant, I guess I probably should be but this hasn’t ever really been about how much money I make. I think there will always be a demand for good music and I take comfort in knowing well be able to meet that demand. I think there will always be enough food on the table through meeting that demand. We also operate in a market where kids give a little bit more value to the artists they listen to then the processed garbage on the radio and that means there a little more willing to invest into them.
Is there revenue in streaming services for Independent Hardcore labels?
Yes, there’s some money to be made as a label. However, for a band. It is very hard to see scratch from their personal records. Labels benefit from a much bigger catalog.
Do you report to RIAA/Soundscan?
In the past, the label has been seen confronting distasteful fans over social media – why this approach?
I have no problem setting the record straight, when people put forth accusations, they are confronting the label, and myself. Sometimes I respond!
What are you excited to be putting out in 2015?
I’m really excited to be putting out follow up records to the debuts I did this year. Just as a fan would I’m excited for the progress our artists have made on their new records and how much they have matured. I’m also very excited on introducing new artists to our realm that I know our followers will enjoy.
Where do you see WAT in 5 years?
Well, I’ve always been a believer in numbers, and if you’ve followed our growth so far I think it’s going to be pretty hard to miss us in 2020.
Any closing words?
Welcome To The Herd!