Billboard's new weekly online column, "Independent Study," focuses on D.I.Y. labels that have been around for under a decade. For this week's segment, they've chosen to profile an imprint that embodies the term "do it yourself." At a mere six years old, Fool's Gold Records, run by Nick Catchdubs and DJ/producer A-Trak, has released some of the most talked-about music in the underground – from their debut singles, Kid Sister's "Control" and the Kanye West-assisted "Pro Nails," to introducing then unknown Cleveland rapper Kid Cudi through "Day 'N Nite," to one of this year's most anticipated albums, Danny Brown's Old – all of which have seen a fusion of hip-hop and dance.
“They were really at the forefront of pushing those two genres together,” says Josh Young, aka J2K of DJ duo and early Fool’s Gold signee Flosstradamus. “They were always a bit ahead of the curve because they were willing to take risks on records that other labels wouldn’t take a chance on.
The study into Fool's Gold also touches on subjects like the brand's love of mascots, namely Duck Sauce's iconic floating rubber duck and "Mr. Goldbar, a foam costume character with white Mickey Mouse gloves and the Fool's Gold logo for a head who is a staple at the label's events," and its highly lauded live events 'Fool’s Gold Day Off' and the traveling 'Fool’s Gold Clubhouse.' But it's not all fun and games, as the duo in charge also have a sound business plan.
“Some bigger labels are run by old people with a cookie cutter mentality who still have the same numbers in their head from 10 years ago of what first week sales should be,” says A-Trak. “But we don’t have any ingrained numbers or processes. If our objective on a given release is to sell through 1,500 pieces of vinyl, then we’ll press 1,500 and not 5,000. We’ve always played it very safe as far as projection and budgeting.”
Billboard's "Independent Study" gives a rich overview of the company's history and overall ideology. A must-read for any artists out there trying to make it on their own, you can catch the complete writeup here.