cover image How to Run an Indie Label

How to Run an Indie Label

Alan McGee. Rare Bird, $28 (302p) ISBN 978-1-64428-378-3

Scottish music executive McGee debuts with a colorful chronicle of his years helming the record label Creation, an incubator of 1980s and ’90s indie rock. While growing up in a rough corner of Glasgow in the 1960s and ’70s, McGee became obsessed with music. In 1980, he joined the band Newspeak (later known as the Laughing Apple), with whom he soon moved to London. After learning the ropes of record production and distribution and realizing that “maybe I was better at being a manager, a hustler, and an organiser than actually being in a band,” he founded Creation in 1983. The label released singles by such bands as the Legend, before achieving a breakout success with the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Upside Down” in 1984. Later, Creation nurtured the careers of My Bloody Valentine and Oasis, resulting in a shift to a more “corporate, mainstream indie” identity, which McGee felt deviated from their “maverick” ethos and led him to shutter the record company in 1999. In energetic prose, McGee vividly recalls producing My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, which “nearly bankrupted us” thanks to front man Kevin Shields’s exacting artistic vision; the “delicate balancing act” of collaborating with flighty artists while cutting fair deals; and the highs of shaping the sound of some of the era’s most notable indie bands. The result is a riveting behind-the-scenes peek into a formative era of rock music. (Sept.)