=QUAL Recordings – The Birth of a Record Label

I had always planned on taking a more behind the scenes role, inevitably making room for young generations to propagate the music industry of Detroit. What I didn’t plan was the way in which this would manifest itself. Here’s what happened…

Not sure if it’s insomnia, or the fact that I’ve been working in bars, nightclubs & concert venues most of my adult life, but I have a difficult time sleeping normal hours of the evening. I feel like I’m on top of my game during the middle of the night. I’d rather go to work at 9 PM versus ending my work day at 5 PM. Waking up at five feels natural to me, actually. What really did it IMO was those black & white Kung Fu movies they used to show on Channel 20 during the middle of the night (way-way) back when I was a child, keeping me up all night.

Now, I usually have some form of static or ambient tone (like a fan) in the background to help me sleep. I started noticing a pattern after visiting a few beaches, whenever I would lay down, the heat of the sun and the hypnotic sound of the waves crashing into the shore would knock me out as though I didn’t have a say in the matter.

I used to travel to the Upper Peninsula once or twice a year and stay at cabins in Paradise, Michigan. They are located on the coast of Lake Superior, and the property had stairs you could walk down to a dock, if the sky was clear enough, you could see across the great lake to Canada, where a string of windmills stretched, blinking red lights randomly across the Canadian coast for miles. It was the spot to sit and chill in the middle of the night while everyone else was sleeping.

One evening was super clear and peaceful, I got the big idea to put my Mini DV camera on a tripod and simply record a tape’s worth of blinking lights and waves crashing into the shore. I figured I could use the footage somehow to help me sleep when I needed something to drown out my thoughts. The video quality is horrible, but you can see the blinking lights if you want to put up with it..doesn’t do the setting and scenery justice, but here is the original video file on youtube:

Something ignited a spark in my stupid brains and I got the big idea to release the recording to the public as an experiment. Would people buy this if I created a product and targeted it towards those needing something to listen to while meditating, daydreaming & trying to sleep? There was only one way to find out…

I exported the audio from the video to a .wav file & did a Google query for something along the lines of “blinking lights Canada windmill farm”, which conveniently lead me to the website of a super talented photographer, Mark Cassino, who coincidentally went on a camping trip in the same area, saw what was so intriguing to me and captured exactly what I was fascinated by so creatively. I immediately contacted him via email explaining what I was trying to do, and asked what was required to have permission to acquire rights to use his work for the cover of the project. He quickly responded.

CreateSpace by Amazon was something I was always interested in exploring, and I now felt like I had a reason to test it out. I figured, if I could sell this simple product on Amazon, it would be worthwhile to put effort into more recordings in other categories with larger audiences. I had no idea Field Recordings was a thing.

I no longer visit Paradise like I used to and the stairs leading down to the dock have all been destroyed, but surely the windmills are generating electricity as intended. If you have an opportunity to visit the area…do it.

Within a matter of weeks after designing the product & uploading the files, the first copy sold. A record label was born…visit =QUAL for more…