Pride of the Music Biz: A Shout-Out for Bridge Records


Photo by Toni Blay — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Bridge Records, led by guitarist David Starobin, should be an inspiration to the music business and to music fans.

Here’s an indy music company that is thriving and maintaining a brand that stands for something: genuine quality.

Allan Kozinn in the New York Times provides the background on Bridge’s catalogue and approach to staying current. The article precedes an upcoming Bridge retrospective anniversary concert to take place in New York on October 20th.

Over the last 30 years, Bridge has released 361 records, all of which are still available. (No small accomplishment in and of itself.) As an independent label, Bridge has produced major classical and modern recordings.

Bridge’s story is fairly simple: artist takes control to produce his own recordings; artist inspires other artists; artist facilitates business opportunities for other artists. What started as an outlet for Starobin’s own recordings expanded to become a remarkable platform for players and composers.

In addition to their recordings, Bridge is also in the business of artist management. The company is kept in the family. Starobin’s wife and two kids each work in different sides of Bridge’s business.

Unlike so many large companies that market test ideas, analyze social network penetration, and look for commercial tie-ins, Starobin’s approach is to record and manage artists he likes. That’s all there is to it. (He’s in good company. As Guy Kawasaki pointed out, Apple’s market research was only about what Steven Jobs’ thought the customer would like.)

Sometimes relying on one’s social sphere feels like a closed loop, where the same information and recommendations go from one to the other until the circle is complete and it begins again. The challenge is discovering something outside your circle, even outside of your comfort zone.

Bridge provides an old fashioned but essential model: a brand you can count on to discover new music. The music might not be the most popular, the most promoted, or the most hip. However, when you buy a Bridge product you know your music world will expand.

- Bill Reichblum

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