::Interviews::
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     interviewed by robby sumner  
Interview with
Jonathan Strauss
Owner of Fidelity Records
E: Jonathan, your label is Fidelity Records, which has handled some great bands including Madison and Race The Sun... how much of the company are you involved in?
Jonathan: Well, I do own the company, but I really never look at it that way. I mean, I rely on so many other great people to get what I have to do done. I basically look over a lot of the day-in and day-out-things that go on and make sure everything runs smoothly. I am a very hands-on person, and [I] like to know everything that is going on at all times. I am constantly in touch with our bands on the road. I also do most of the networking and talking to people and getting the word out about our bands, and not to forget writing checks--my favorite thing in the whole world. Kevin, who works with me, handles all our web design and graphics, and also helps me make decisions because I trust his opinion a lot. It is really hard being one person and not knowing if something is good or not. 
E: Do you have the final word when it comes to signing bands?
Jonathan: Yes, I have the final word when it comes to bands, but I ask all my closest friends and people I trust. There is a lot more to deciding whether or not to sign a band. Good music is first, but we also must be able to be friends and work together. I find some bands might have great songs, but they suck as people and think they deserve everything. So I sometimes ask myself, "Do I really want to not sleep and have no life over these kids?Ē And I arrive at my answer.
E: Are you generally happy with your decision, or are there ever moments where you had regrets?
Jonathan: I am very happy with the decisions we have made and do not regret anything at all. Each band is unique and brings something special to Fidelity. We are all like family.
E: In terms of popularity with the kids, why do you think some bands find it more than others?
Jonathan: I think it sometimes has to do with whom bands are friends with and what bands are being hyped on the internet. I mean, when I look at other bands, I realize that itís 'cause they make themselves open to their fans by putting there screen names for AIM on their websites and taking time to talk to kids. I know bands that are crazy and are always trying to do things to further their band. In the end, kids like what they like.
E: What do you think are the most important things that a label does for a band?
Jonathan: I think the most important thing that a label does for a band is to be their friend. Be that person to call on the road when things are rough, be able to ask for help--aside from the obvious things like paying to record and putting the record out. I mean, just believing in your bands and pushing them every second of the day. I can list things like tour support, posters, stickers and all that stuff, but I really truly feel a solid relationship and trust is important. Without that we cannot operate.
E: Does your job keep you pretty busy?
Jonathan: It keeps me busy enough that I donít have much of a personal life anymore. I will drop a lot of things for the label. Like right now I am supposed to be having dinner for the Jewish New Year, but I chose this because it is more important. This is my baby. It is like a girlfriend. I donít sleep much and I donít think there is a doctor that can prescribe as much Xanax that I need for the stress I have. There are good days and there are bad days, but I would not trade it for the world. I will tell you that I have found out who my true friends are and who understands what I am doing the most, and that is the shocker of them all. That is the saddest part. I have seen people fade and that just sucks. But I would not trade it for the world. 
E: If you couldn't have this job, what do you think you would like to do?
Jonathan: I would like to go into A&R work for a major label, which is not out of the question as of right now, because I have been talking to some people... but if music was not a choice at all... maybe a cop, or maybe work for my father. Who knows!
E: Do you think there are some common misconceptions regarding the record label industry?
Jonathan: Yes! I mean, everyone thinks that because you are a label you make sh*tloads of money. A CD at wholesale lets say can be seven dollars minus thirty percent for distribution and you are left with, like, four dollars and ninety cents, and then minus the cost of the production of the CD which, let's say, is a dollar. So right there you are left with three dollars and ninety cents. Throw in shipping and all the advertising and recording costs, and you are what we call broke. I donít make a dollar till a record fully recoups or breaks even. If I spend twenty thousand dollars, think about how many records I really have to sell to make a profit. Yes, it sucks!
E: What are your long-term goals for the label?
Jonathan: In a year and a half I feel we have come a long way. I seriously look at Carl and Ferret Records, and want to be there within two years. Right now I want to act as a stepping-stone for bands--not tying them down but bringing them to the next level. Eventually I want to be able to be at that level where we can provide all these services we might not be able to now to our bands without any problems. It is just so hard when you are two people... well actually three. We canít forget our dear friend Jessi Hector from Horizontal Press who does our PR work. I want to eventually just have an office and operate on a bigger scale.
E: Thanks a lot for doing the interview. Good luck with everything.
Jonathan: No thank you. Seriously, itís awesome that you asked. I just want any person, band, or whatever that is reading this to know that if they ever have any questions they can always call us or hit us up on AIM. Talk to us. I find that a lot of bands and kids are intimidated, but seriously please feel free to contact us. Sometimes it even works better than email. My email gets so backed up, but I am always on AIM and the phone is always there. I want to thank Euphonia for the interview, along with a short list of people who matter to me the most: Kevin, Jessi, Race The Sun, The Escape Engine, Madison, Weíre All Broken, Darren Doane, Erin (helper), and last but not least my awesome parents. With out any one of these people Fidelity would not exist.