August 20, 2018
The music industry can be a vile and ruthless machine. If you don’t have what it takes, it will chew you up and spit you out. Every year forward is a victory worthy of a celebration, especially for a small record label like Charlotte’s Refresh Records. This weekend the label will be celebrating its third year in business with two different shows: a pre-party at Snug Harbor on Friday and the official birthday showcase at Visulite Theatre on Saturday. But not even those events can distract founder Josh Higgins from looking towards the label’s next steps, “The last couple weeks we’ve been preparing for the two shows we’re hosting, but outside of that we’ve just been keeping our heads down and staying focused on new music,” Higgins said. They always have new artists to groom and albums to market, “The new Echo Courts album landed last month, receiving a lot of love in the press and is currently doing great at college radio. We also just announced the new album from Old Faith, an NC/VA based post-rock band that used to be called Bombardier, and that will be coming out in a few weeks.” Echo Courts and Old Faith will also be performing at the birthday showcase, alongside local heavyweights Junior Astronomers and Cuzco.
Surviving for three years is no easy task in the music industry, and there are always lessons to be learned. For aspiring entrepreneurs, Higgins has some simple advice: “Be patient, take your time, and do your research. If you make a mistake, don’t let it tear you down. Just learn and grow, always.” But one of the most important things that Higgins had to learn in order to help Refresh Records succeed is how essential touring is. “I knew it was important, but it took seeing the direct correlation between tour dates and increased sales, streaming, and followers to really grasp just how critically important it is for bands of every size. There’s no magic bullet to ensure the success of an album release, but consistent touring ranks up there as one of the most important aspects,” Higgins explained.
One of the biggest surprises over the course of his label’s life is the resiliency and inclusivity of the music community, especially through extremely tumultuous times. Speaking on the last couple of years, Higgins recalled, “Following Trump’s election, I honestly expected there to be a rise in politically-charged music. I was picturing a return to the era of punk music and 7″s with photocopied covers showing Trump’s face slapped on lewd imagery.” Things have seemingly turned out a bit different than expected, “It’s easy to shield ourselves with negativity and humor, but to see whole communities push back with positivity has been incredible to witness. The world may be a dark place right now, but the music communities are becoming more vibrant and welcoming each and every day,” Higgins said.
The best way to support Refresh Records, and other local artists that you love is simple according to Higgins: “Go to shows and buy merch! Click the follow button on Spotify and YouTube. Share and repost songs you link across social media. Add the songs to playlists and share those playlists with friends. Tell friends in cities along tour routes to check out a local band you like. Just spread the gospel of the local music you love.”
You can start by coming out to Visulite Theatre on August 25 to the Refresh Records Birthday Showcase featuring Junior Astronomers, Cuzco, Old Faith, and Echo Courts. There will also be a Refresh Records Pre-Party with Modern Primitives, Gull, Knowne Ghost, and Daddy’s Beemer at Snug Harbor. Check out the full catalog off releases from Refresh Records.