Christopher Campbell

5 Questions to Chris Campbell about Innova Recordings

The second installment (read the first one) in our #ClassicalMusicMonth label interview series is Innova Recordings, the label of the American Composers Forum. We talked to Chris Campbell, the operations director at Innova. Chris is also a composer and a producer.

Could you introduce Innova Recordings to our readers?

Innova Recordings is the label of the American Composers Forum. It was founded in 1982 to document McKnight fellowship winners and now we’re in the business of offering artistic and technical guidance through the recording, distribution, and marketing process. We love visionary composers and performers and we love championing original and compelling musical voices.

When you buy an Innova recording, you are directly supporting that artist—one to one.

How much of your catalog focuses on new music?

I guess it depends on your definition of new music. We do experimental classical, orchestral, chamber, electronic, jazz, world, and the gaps between. The through line in the catalog is quality music that says something compelling, and with 600 albums in the catalog there’s a lot being said.

Elainie Lillios: Summer Sketches – 2. Dry Wind from Thrive, by Aeon Flutes (Innova 955, out November 2016)

What are the qualities your look for in artists  (composers, performers, conductors) you decide to feature?

I look for a voice. I look for an artist that’s heavily engaged, not only in their craft or practice but also in partnering with the broader musical community. I look for an artist who’s authentically expressing their point of view however unconventional it may be. When all those thing line up we can do really great things together as a team.

Caleb Burhans: Remembrance from For Ko, by Yuki Numata Resnick (Innova 951)

What is your biggest challenge as a classical label in the early 21st century and how do you approach it?

Our biggest challenge, if I’m being honest, is getting artists the money we feel they deserve. We have listeners all over the world. I know our numbers and there’s a big market. So it’s not a “lack of interest” situation. It’s a “pivot from a listen to a monetary transaction” situation. Situations have opportunity embedded in them so at Innova we try to hammer home the point that our artists get 100% of sales profit. Our artists retain publishing, copyrights etc. When you buy an Innova recording, you are directly supporting that artist—one to one. That’s powerful.

What’s next for the label? What are you excited about (a release, a new technology, etc.)?

I love technology. I love the different entry points that a person has at their fingertips to experience the breath and depth of what we’re doing. At Innova we want to be in all markets. We’re platform agnostic and want to get our music out to as many people as we can and that’s exciting. However, what I’m most excited about these days is what I’ve always loved about music. Creating, listening to, speaking with folks about traditions and musics, and transmitting that energy is what excites me. It’s life giving and challenging and necessary.