Mike Cusanelli is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the WorldSound label group. Cusanelli is now starting up the new label WorldSound Kids, signing StarFish as its first artist. StarFish's band leader Ray Leone, Vice President for Sales with Putumayo US, use to work with Cusanelli at Putumayo, so there's definitely some familiarity between the two. But the partnership between the two does seem strategic, as Cusanelli outlines below in this brief interview.
Zooglobble: Why did you decide to start the label?
Mike Cusanelli: I used to have my own label in Little Rock, Arkansas called Zen Ark Entertainment. After I had my twins I started putting together a kids collection of local musicians. Unfortunately I was unable to complete the project. After joining Putumayo World Music my interest in kids music became even deeper. So it has been at the back of my mind for a while now. Since joining WorldSound 2 years ago, I've been looking for the right project. I have been a fan of StarFish since their start so the chance to work with them is really what sparked this final step.
Why start a record label when so much of the record business is in flux? In other words, what makes you think you can succeed with this particular label?
Luckily I did not have to start a new label. WorldSound Kids is just an additional imprint. As an independent, we can manage expectations more easily. In other words. we don’t need to sell millions of records to turn a profit.
What's your mission?
I want to reinvent kids music. From my perspective parents who were and are fans of mainstream rock music have been left out of the revolution and are forced to settle with the more commercial elements of kids music. Bands like StarFish can quickly bring them to the party. I've been a fan of the band since they started and I know how talented they are and how hard they have worked. There really could be no better band for us to launch this imprint.
What sort of promotional plans do you have?
We are going to undertake a social marketing campaign unlike anything kids music has seen before. We want every parent or grandparent who owned a Bon Jovi cassette, drove a Z-28, put on so much hairspray that they can share the blame for the hole in the ozone, knows why Tawny Kitaen is famous, used to walk around with a giant-handled comb in their back pocket to properly feather their hair, switched to flannel shirts in 1991, and desperately wanted their MTV, to buy this CD for their kids.
Are you seeking other artists for the label? What are you looking for?
Yes I am. In fact I may have another signing this summer. I want to see and hear originality and rebellion.
Besides targeting a niche you think is un(der)served, what other advantages do you think Worldsound Kids offers?
WorldSound Kids is a true partnership with the artists giving them a creative freedom and a conduit to a wider audience. This attracts artists who have been passed over or are reluctant to enter into a traditional label relationship.
Our deals are generally not royalty based whereby the label owns everything and pays the artist 10-12% of sales after all expenses are recouped. Instead, we enter into a 50/50 partnership. The artist brings us the completed project and we license it for a period of time. We bring our sales and marketing expertise as well as the means of production to get a new CD into the marketplace. The artists retain ownership of their art.
As far as genres, we are mostly interested in things that interest us, which can be everything from punk rock to kids' music. Mostly it depends on the attitude and aptitude of the artist. We are not looking for rock stars, but rather like-minded entrepreneurs.