Seth Hubbard is Label Manager for Polyvinyl Records, an independent record label. He talks to Hightail about the label’s history, making music videos and why he strives to not have a Polyvinyl sound.
Who started Polyvinyl Records?
Husband and wife duo Matt and Darcie Lunsford started the label while they were dating in high school. It has now been around for 18 years and is home to bands such as: of Montreal, Japandroids, Deerhoof, STRFKR, American Football, The Dodos, The Rentals and Alvvays, to name a few.
How did you come to join the label?
I majored in music business in college and while there helped run the campus radio station, which led to my internship with Polyvinyl. I’m now Label Manager and oversee all aspects of the label, most specifically all things promo and A&R related.
How has digital technology changed the music industry?
Technology has changed EVERYTHING about the music industry over the past decade. The way things are now vs. how they were when I started are night and day. Polyvinyl is a small enough company to have been able to adapt quickly to the ever-changing musical landscape. We strive to be at the forefront of new developments in how people listen to music and discover new artists.
How has the kind of music that Polyvinyl releases changed?
When I first started the label was beginning to branch out from its roots in the Midwestern DIY/emo scene. One of the first bands I worked on when I started was Mates of State, which was a major shift stylistically from our previous bands. Six months later we signed of Montreal and that was a major turning point in broadening our palette. I love how labels like Sub Pop and Merge have such varied rosters. My goal is to not have a “Polyvinyl sound”. I want music fans to know if Polyvinyl Records is releasing it, then it will be good no matter the genre.
How much involvement does the label have with producing music videos?
A music video usually starts with the band and label sorting out what the single is and if we should make a video. The label figures out budgets, deadlines, concepts, etc. and I’ll go through our pretty large Rolodex of video directors if the band does not have someone specifically in mind. I deal directly as the go-between for the band and the director – it’s one of my favorite parts of my job.
How does Hightail fit into your process?
I use Hightail every day. There are always WAV files, remix stems, video files, etc. that need to be sent to people. It is one of our go-to places to send files online. When we’re making videos, a lot of work-in-progress ends up on private You Tube or Vimeo links to sort out editing and FX choices.
Sonny and the Sunsets photograph by Alice Shaw
Where are you based and what’s it like?
We are based in the Bay Area and last year moved from the Mission in San Francisco to downtown Berkeley. The scene out here is great and very supportive. We’ve been lucky to work with some of the best local bands, including The Dodos, Sonny & The Sunsets and Painted Palms.