The Mechanic's Guide
Yes, label-moguls-to-be, this is the spot you've been looking for. From 1991-1998 we put out 4 editions of the Simple Machines Mechanic's Guide, which probably means we mailed out close to 8000 copies of it (...but who's counting). Since about 1997 our friend Muji has posted the whole booklet on his Indiecentre website, which is an incredible source of info for anyone who is interested in putting out their own records, cassettes or CDs. The Mechanic's Guide, in fact, has taken on a life of its own while online, now that many website visitors have posted their feeback and added info about other companies or suppliers. Instead of posting the whole thing here, we encourage you to visit Indiecentre and browse to your heart's content.
In late 1999, we started a
very large project: updating the Mechanic's Guide to reflect the new
tools and services available to small labels and bands via the Internet.
In conjunction with Insound,
we are building a new resource for the indie music community called
Machine. Not only are we updating the Mechanic's Guide, but we're
documenting a lot of the new ethical and technical issues that the Internet
has generated. We encourage you to visit The Machine and read some of
the interesting interviews and articles we've posted, as well as filling
out the survey
regarding your current use of the Internet.
If you're at all interested in the story behind the Mechanic's Guide, here's a bit of background.
Way back in about 1989 both of us were involved in Positive Force, a youth activist group based in Washington, DC. That year, Positive Force and Dischord put out a compilation CD/LP called State of the Union, which was a benefit for the Community for Creative Non-Violence Shelter. Positive Force members contributed to the LP insert, adding helpful information about simple things, like how to start a group and how to help in your community. This LP insert generated a torrent of mail to Positive Force from young people across the country who wanted to know more.
That LP insert turned into a more detailed pamphlet about musical things: how to put on a concert, how to do sound, and how to put out a 7" record. Since we were hardly experts about this stuff, we asked our friend Steve Skrzyniarz to write the first version. Steve and his friend John had a small label called Leopard Gecko Records out in Tacoma, WA and had already put out, two...maybe three 7"s - far ahead of us in this record label stuff.
About a year later, when Simple Machines had a few 7"s under the belt, we got a call from Sassy Magazine. They had seen the pamphlet and wanted to make it the "cool zine of the month". After hearing from friends that we could expect up to 1000 letters from Sassy readers, we knew that we had to switch out of the xerox/stapled pamphlet version and make something that was easy to mail. We expanded the original pamphlet into a 20-page booklet, which Barefoot Press in Raleigh, NC graciously offered to print up for free. It included all the steps involved in putting out a 7" or cassette, and our friend John Henderson wrote a piece about how to put out a CD. True to what we'd heard we got about 800 letters from Sassy subsribers, all of which got a free copy of the Mechanic's Guide. After we ran out of those, we decided to update it a bit and keep it in print. We kept the Mechanic's Guide in print in four editions from about 1991-1997, with many, many insert updates in between. Now that the label is no longer active, we aren't doing a printed version anymore. Instead, we invite you to visit both the Indiecentre and the Insound websites, where the current (5th) edition of the booklet lives in all its glory. Good luck!