Magazine article Newsweek

Feeling Lucky, Punk? the Music Industry's in a Slump, but Vagrant Records Is on the Rise with Rock for Teens Bored by Britney

Magazine article Newsweek

Feeling Lucky, Punk? the Music Industry's in a Slump, but Vagrant Records Is on the Rise with Rock for Teens Bored by Britney

Article excerpt

Byline: Bret Begun

You can't run a record label without being a bit of a rock star yourself, and Rich Egan is playing the part. It's 11 a.m. and Egan, whose Vagrant Records could be incubating the next Nirvana, has overslept his NEWSWEEK interview. "Dude, I'm so sorry," his voice mail starts, "my wake-up call didn't come through." That's OK--he had a heck of a night. Dashboard Confessional, his most successful act, won an MTV Music Award, and Egan was out until a respectably punk 2:30 a.m. toasting the band's frontman, Chris Carrabba. "We were never the hip indie label all the fanzines wrote about," says Egan, 33, at a photo shoot for Carrabba later that day. "We were putting out records we love, and the pendulum swung our way."

It didn't swing by itself. Egan has helped it along, applying major-label tactics to a minor-league scene. His bands Saves The Day and The Get Up Kids have each sold upwards of 185,000 copies, and Dashboard has sold more than 300,000. Carrabba's name isn't quite Spears or Timberlake, but that's exactly the point. Vagrant has zeroed in on teens who can't stomach bubblegum pop, and built a hip national brand even though the rest of the music industry is too depressed to get out of bed. "The underground was allowed to happen while the record companies were turning out dreck," says Andy Greenwald, author of an upcoming book about punk, teens and the Net.

As a student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Egan waited tables in Malibu, checked IDs at two clubs and delivered pizzas. He spent his free time worshiping Ian MacKaye, vocalist for staunchly independent Minor Threat and founder of Dischord Records. "I saw 'Another State of Mind'"--a punkumentary made in 1982--"and I was, like, 'I want to put out records from cool bands and have them crash my house'. …

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