Here comes a niche how-to book

Ian Anderson’s first book, the very solid “Here Come the Regulars,” shows readers the indie label ropes.

PHOTO COURTESY FABER AND FABER

PHOTO COURTESY FABER AND FABER

Jay Boller

âÄúHere Come the RegularsâÄù AUTHOR: Ian Anderson PUBLISHER: Faber and Faber PAGES: 176 PRICE: $15 Most articles about Ian Anderson begin with a list. For the sake of tradition, here goes: founder/head of Afternoon Records, head of Vitriol Independent Promotion, founder of the blog Minneapolis [expletive] Rocks and frontman of indie-poppers One for the Team âÄî the Minneapolis native, 24, is all those things. And now he can add âÄúpublished authorâÄù to the list with the release of the indie label how-to manual âÄúHere Come the Regulars.âÄù When a 24-year-old releases a how-to book, the obvious question is âÄúwhy?âÄù In a world where most 20-somethings are best positioned to teach the intricacies of shotgunning a beer or turning a Gatorade bottle into a weed pipe, who’s going to give one the credence necessary to author a book detailing the thorny world of running a record label? Anderson’s keenly aware of this. On the first page of âÄúHere Come the RegularsâÄù he addresses his youthfulness and its potential shortcomings. But Anderson writes, âÄúI know what it takes to build a strong and healthy foundation,âÄù as evidenced by Afternoon Records and its 50-plus releases. But does the scene darling know how to pen a halfway decent book? As it turns out, he does. Those looking for a memoir on Anderson’s truly intriguing rise to indie-semifame, this is not the book. âÄúHere Come the RegularsâÄù possesses little flowery prose, sparse anecdotes and maintains a safe distance from most of Anderson’s intimate dealings with Afternoon Records. That said, the St. Olaf College graduate âÄî an English major âÄî is no slouch in the writing department. His prose follows the general thesis of his advice on label management: straight-forwardness and honesty. There’s subtle humor to keep things interesting, but the crux of the book is wholly how-to. âÄúHere Come the RegularsâÄù boasts an engaging format. Anderson addresses the reader head-on and tells them, for hypothetical purposes, they’ll be running the imagined Thankyou Records and working with fictional indie up-and-comers The Readers. Such is the framework that guides the reader through basic branding, roster building, legal logistics, manufacturing, distribution, booking and promotion. By the end of the book, The Readers are doing pretty kickass. With a scope so wide, AndersonâÄôs no-BS writing style lends the book focus and clarity. The early chapters on the grassroots, music-geek-fantasy realm of starting the label are the most enjoyable from an entertainment standpoint. From there, the book veers into some less accessible territory. Full models of real-world contracts and legal stipulation are featured in chapters like âÄúRecord DealsâÄù and âÄúDigital Distribution.âÄù Needless to say, non-lawyer readers will find these passages tedious. Anderson interjects with layman explanations, but reading a contract has the inherent thrill of reading a contract. Still, considering the aim of the book, those pagers are invaluable. How else is a startup going to have any clue? Anderson’s overarching earnestness is what cements his book. Few people have his perspective into the industry, and fewer could pull off a line like âÄúBlogs, blogs, blogs, blah, blah, blah. We hear so much about them, but why exactly are music blogs so awesome âÄî and, more important, so essential to the survival of music labels?âÄù and still command respect. But he does. âÄúHere Come the RegularsâÄù is meat and potatoes. It’s a sterling resource and fleshes itself out with artifacts like real one-sheets and artist marketing plans. Not unlike meat and potatoes, it’s not flashy. Readership will almost certainly consist of industry hopefuls, but intense music geeks will get a thrill out of the candid look under the skirt of such an alluring universe. Anderson’s message of hard work, honestly and passion isnâÄôt novel, but he delivers these essential starches and proteins with a real-world outlook and thoughtfulness that adds to the authenticity. Moreover, it’s D.I.Y. advice from a man who’s actually doing it himself.