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30 lessons from the Cooking Vinyl story

As part of its 30th anniversary, this book celebrates the story of independent record label Cooking Vinyl. Acclaimed music journalist and author Hanspeter Kuenzler has conducted over 50 interviews with all the key players in the label’s history and distilled this into thirty lessons. These are the lessons that anyone running a record label or thinking of starting one must know. Part business book, part music memoir, it charts the highs and lows of three decades in the music business during a time of immense change. Funny, entertaining and insightful this is a unique look at what it takes to survive and succeed doing something you love.

‘If I had known then what I know now - I would never started the job!’ Martin Goldschmidt, Chairman, Cooking Vinyl.

Founded in 1986 by Martin Goldschmidt and his original business partner Pete Lawrence, Cooking Vinyl has long been at the forefront of innovation and as well as being the original artist services company is acknowledged as a digital pioneer and trailblazer in many areas, with a number of industry firsts to its name.

Over the years, Cooking Vinyl has been home to an eclectic and diverse range of artist and its recent roster has included Billy Bragg, Marilyn Manson, Richard Ashcroft, Madness, James, Frank Black, Gary Numan, Amanda Palmer, The Pretty Reckless, Suzanne Vega, Alison Moyet, The Cult, Lissie, Royksopp and The Prodigy among others.

All profits from the commercial activities surrounding Cooking Vinyl’s 30th Anniversary will be donated to charity. The company recently asked its staff to suggest suitable causes and to vote on a shortlist with three organisations chosen to be equal recipients as follows:


Hanspeter Kuenzler arrived in London from Zurich when the Marquee was still in Wardour Street and a pint cost less than a Pound. He has since interviewed nearly 3000 musicians, from Fela Kuti to Elton John, Tina Turner and Morrissey, and written about them in many publications in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and other countries. He has written several books, including a biography of Michael Jackson which was a bestseller in Germany and Switzerland.

Chapter 16 The Hayseed Dixie phenomenon

John Wheeler is a big man with a cap on his head, plenty of stubble round the chin, and a voice to scare the virgins in the next village. He is from Nashville, Tennessee, and likes to use long German words like Grundstücksverkehrsgenehmigungszuständigkeitsübertragungsverordnung. There is a good reason John learned German: “When I started out as an undergraduate doing philosophy and history, I realised quite quickly that there were certain things that you couldn’t übersetzen. Words like “Geist”, for instance. The title of Hegel’s “Phänomenologie des Geistes” I’ve seen translated as “Phenomenology of Mind”, “Phenomenology of Spirit”, “Phenomenology of Consciousness”, and “Phenomenology of Soul”. None of these is really accurate.” John Wheeler is also the “Geist” behind Hayseed Dixie, a band that began its bizarre career by rendering AC/DC songs in a speeded up hillbilly style complete with banjo, mandolin, backwoods camouflage clothing and barbed political comments of a decidedly left-leaning tendency. Hayseed Dixie, against the predictions of all normally reliable experts, turned out to be one of Cooking Vinyl’s most extraordinary success stories. So much so that Rob Collins calls it “the Hayseed Dixie phenomenon”.


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