BD’s new partnership.

Business Deal Records has partnered with Frog Music Licensing to bring our label’s music to Hollywood. Several shows and movies have shown interest in various songs from Business Deal’s collection. More on this soon. In the meantime you can visit Frog Music to keep track of the going’s on.

About FML:

The Company

Frog ML is an indie-focused music licensing company – we’re modeled more on the great indie labels than on any massive music library. We’re not trying to amass the largest catalog of songs on the planet. We’re careful about our catalog. We intend to provide a hassle-free conduit between the bands working in the independent music world and the people who put music with picture.

The Founder

Tom Vale learned the ins and outs of music licensing in Los Angeles, first as a music supervisor on countless student films, and later working with the Six Feet Under music supervisors. He learned licensing from a client’s perspective, an invaluable background for catering to Frog clients now. Through his (ongoing) work as a writer and editor for numerous indie-leaning music magazines and websites, he became familiar with a wealth of up and coming bands across the country. And he decided to put his background to use on their behalf.

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians

Frog ML will be donating 5% of our end of every license fee to the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, an organization dedicated to providing access to affordable health care for Austin’s low income, uninsured musicians.

Preston Dukes album!

Preston Dukes has officially released his debut album titled Amarillo By Midnight. Members of Fishboy and Count Dracula’s Weed Juggling Jam Engine make up the new project and are playing the 10 song set live (including the title track Amarillo By Midnight) in Austin, TX venues. Their first video “I’m On A Budget” has been a viral hit and was recently featured on austinsound.net. Smokey Farris did the art work for the Preston Dukes release. All recordings have been created, mixed and mastered @ Bundyhill Recording Studio.

More news and reviews coming soon.

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INsite Magazine, Local & National Traxx Review

Preston Dukes – Amarillo by Midnight
(Business Deal Records)
Better known as guitar shredder for experimental
hard rock lounge act Count Dracula’s
Weed Smuggling Jam Engine, Preston
Dukes’ longtime solo side project became a
fully realized band with a November 2008
debut at Hole in the Wall. The subsequent
full-length debut produced by local studio
Bundyhill Recording maintains a collective
feel, with Business Deal partners and associates
filling in for the live experience.
The eponymous opening track, cowritten
by local filmmaker and videographer
James Oswald, is a favorite staple
of Business Deal partners Charles Potts
Magic Windmill Band, one of the coolest
stoner country songs you’ll ever hear. It’s
a deceptively country and folksy song that
underlines an appreciation of styles and
comfort with crossing musical boundaries.
The existential cravings of “Chinese
Food” and anti-comedy of manners “Out
of Jokes” shy away from the lovelorn “I’m
so sensitive” singer/songwriter posturing,
thanks to Dukes’ insightful lyrical range
– humorous self-deprecation to serious
personal contemplation.
The song that may become a cult video
hit, “I’m On A Budget,” is a relatable rock
smoothie. Feel good pop melody blends
well with a slightly funky beat, synthesizer
horns (replaced live by trumpeter Adam
Avaremscu), and somewhat agitating
vocals by Dukes. “E.S.T” is quite a contrast

to this, as he holds a musical séance, conjuring
images of Nirvana. The CD mellows
out by the gently rocking closing track

(another Dukes & Oswald collaboration).
The shifting of styles was somewhat
jarring at first listen, but Amarillo by Midnight
becomes a worthwhile ride. Make a
trip to your favorite local record shop and
buy the CD for your next road trip.
Go to www.prestondukes.com or visit
businessdealrecords.com for upcoming
shows, including a release party.

– Danna Williams, INsite Magazine

Latest BD Article

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Austin’s Best Label That’s Not A Label Resists Label
by Adam Schragin Feb., 2009

“We’re just not a functioning entity,” says Chris Lyons of Business
Deal Records, Austin’s scrappiest local label—or, as Lyons prefers,
“art collective.” He’s right about that, to a point: Business Deal’s
online sales have been negligible, its output is sporadic and loose,
and the overall attitude is one of laissez-faire self-deprecation.
Which raises the question: How does a so-called “non-functioning
entity” keep releasing music for 20 years and counting, and maintain
one of the most inventive continually exciting presences in Austin’s
music scene?

The genesis of Business Deal can be traced to two friends in the
Dallas area, Dirk Michener and Smokey Farris. Farris and Michener
began playing and recording in middle and high school; Farris later
connected with Lyons when he moved to Houston. When the trio first got
together, the music followed closely behind. “Dirk came down to visit
Smokey one spring break,” Lyons says. “We played music all week, and
the next thing I knew, they made a tape of it. I was like, ‘This is so
cool! Whoever thought to do this?’” Though he started as “one of
Business Deal’s first fans,” Lyons quickly became more involved,
releasing music under the Business Deal banner while recording with
Austin’s legendary faux-British ’80s new-wave-terrorists Prima Donnas
and on his own under the name Gene Defcon.

With a name like Business Deal, one might assume someone involved has
their eye on the brass ring, but few (if any) high-dollar transactions
actually take place behind closed doors. “There’s no business,” Lyon
says. “We’re really terrible at that. We don’t have a business plan.
We just make a bunch of CDs, and we never sell any. Last year we gave
an award to our biggest online seller, and it was, like, seven
copies.” Online sales are hardly the bottom line for the
label—although member Travis Catsull does have big plans for what
Lyons describes as “Business Deal 2.0.” “We’ve always had shitty
websites,” Catsull says. “So we’ve been working on one for about two
months that should help increase sales—or at least look cooler.”

Part of the group’s renewed interest in giving the often-sleepy label
a kick in the head has to do with its recent compilation, the Business
Deal Band Lotto. Starting with 33 musicians—including Business Deal
alums like Preston Dukes and a smattering of new names—nine different
bands came together by chance through a lottery system. Each group’s
choice of musical instruments was also put in fate’s hands, as was the
one subject about which each band had to write—which turned out to be
“baby fat.” The quick turnaround time and freeform nature of the
project resulted in a batch of fun, fast-moving songs, most of which
retain the goofy, amiable wit that’s become the signature of all the
label’s releases, from Lyons’ own tongue-in-cheek projects like The
Old Timerz to Yellow Fever’s first incarnation, Fart Face. While Lyons
has relinquished control of the next inevitable Band Lotto, Pat Healy
(of synth-spazzes Pataphysics) has agreed to spearhead. Lyons already
has high hopes: “Hopefully, the next one will be twice as big. We’ll
expand until the whole city is in it.” He’s also pushing for a “genre
randomizer,” which would require the bands to work within the limited
framework of disparate styles.

And if it too doesn’t sell, so what? “The whole point of the comp was
to expand our friend network,” Lyons says. “It’s almost like we’re a
virus. We can’t exist on our own, and we don’t have the resources to
be a host, so we’re going to be a virus and invade everyone else. I
feel like, if anything, Business Deal is just the name we call our
creative projects within this group of friends. My goal is always just
to expand, so we can include more people who like being creative. As
long as we can find more people like that, we’re successful.”

BD Recs in the news.

Business Deal, Shun the Handshake

BY Audra Schroeder

“We’re not business people. In fact, we don’t really know what we’re doing.”

Dirk Michener had no real intention of starting a label. When he and longtime friend Smokey Farris formed their first band at age 12 in Cypress, Texas, just outside of Houston, it was two friends jamming. The name Business Deal came about in 1993, and it grew as Michener went to school in Denton, Farris went to school in Austin, and more folks were drafted in. Over the last 10 years, it’s grown into a collective of many friends jamming that’s included anywhere from 10 to 20 members. That strength-in-numbers mentality remains at the core of Business Deal’s quirky success.

“There’s ended up being about 50 different bands from, like, 15 combinations of people,” the 31-year-old Michener says. “It’s a very tight-knit group. We don’t let just anyone in … unless we need a drummer.”

Business Deal’s groupthink is more a democracy than a label, which helps to explain its idiosyncrasies. There’s the ironic name, a riff on the sweaty power-handshake types; then there’s the gnarled Business Deal family tree, a tangle of local acts that’s included (past and presently) Cavedweller (Michener’s band), Zom Zoms, Teenage Dog, Gene Defcon, the Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band, Fishboy, Count Dracula’s Weed Smuggling Jam Engine, Yellow Fever, the Carrots, Pataphysics, the Old-Timerz, the Prima Donnas, and, very tangentially, Vietnam and Trail of Dead, among many others.

“I actually drew a family tree once, and it got really ridiculous,” Michener laughs.

He describes democracy thusly: “We propose ideas and gather consensus upon which we review the funds at hand and distribute the various tasks to members of the collective.” Bands put out albums, then hand the reins over to the next group ready to record or play out or promote. Screen-printing T-shirts and posters, making stickers, and recording are done by various BD associates, so the circle is self-sufficient. Parallel to the egalitarian vibe of the label is a sense of humor.

Take 2005’s Business Deal Top 40 (see “Texas Platters,” July 2005), which featured 40 associates of the label – the songs counted down in a Top 40 format, complete with jingles and featuring one-off groups like La Junta High School. It’s a perfect example of BD’s reproduction cycle. Accordingly, Michener jests that Business Deal is a “money-losing venture” but stresses that the important part is “getting together and writing a song with people you wouldn’t normally get together with. And then it’s like, ‘That band’s called this, and that’s it.'” And so the tree continues growing.

“There’s a right- and left-hand way of looking at Business Deal,” explains Michener, pointing out the label’s balance of pop and psych with the more dancey punk and comparing the collective’s map to the shape of a pentagram. “We’re a democracy, but we’re also like a gang. There’s no ‘Fuck you; I’m going over your head.'”

And everyone’s usually cool with that?

“No. But then we have to remember not to take it so seriously.”


Established: 1988
Kingpins: Dirk Michener (owner) with rotating members of the collective
Number of releases: “I suppose this century we’ve released and co-released with other labels about 30 recordings.”
Notable releases: The Prima Donnas; Gene Defcon, Come Party With Me; Fishboy, Little D; Zom Zoms, Yellow Rainbow; the Telephone Company, The King’s Surprise, The First Annual Business Deal Company Picnic; Cavedweller, The Best Version of “Gloria” Ever There Was
New & upcoming: The Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band, Pataphysics, Cavedweller, The Carrots
Average print run: 1,000-2,000 pressed CDs, 100-500 CD-Rs, 50-100 cassettes, 300-500 vinyl 45s.
Distribution: Crystal Clear, K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Happy Happy Birthday to Me