Busted Flat Records

Busted Flat Records
Date of Birth: November 2003
Number of Releases: 20
Biggest Seller: Brock Zeman & Dan Walsh The Bourbon Sessions
Upcoming Releases: Lynn Jackson, Shannon Lyon, Brock Zeman
Online: bustedfaltrecords.com

Kitchener-Waterloo is home to the second largest Oktoberfest in the world, but look past this annual love-in for polka and these twin cities, an hour west of Toronto, are also a breeding ground for some great singer-songwriters. It’s no wonder Mark Logan started Busted Flat Records in K-W more than four years ago. The name was taken from a line in the classic song, "Me and Bobby McGhee," written by legendary songwriter Kris Kristofferson; Logan jokes the name also refers to his business model.

"Busted Flat was born after a summer listening to the music of Shannon Lyon on the back porch of an old house in Kitchener while I was refinishing some furniture," Logan explains. "Lyon’s latest at the time, Dharma, which had been released on a Dutch label, was in heavy rotation at my house. After exchanging some emails with Shannon, CDs of some of his live performances started arriving in my mailbox. Everyone who came to visit that summer heard those discs, and pretty soon, talk turned to the fact that other people needed to hear them as well. More email was exchanged, a deal was struck, and Busted Flat was born." Lyon’s Bound, recorded live at the Lexor Theatre in Holland on October 6, 2002, was Busted Flat’s first release in 2004. While the label began as a home for Lyon’s music, soon after, according to Logan, "The label morphed into putting out releases by other local songwriters whose music I thought was fabulous." These songwriters included Lynn Jackson, Paul MacLeod and Mike Alviano.

"It’s fantastic to be part of Busted Flat," says Alviano, who has put out two records through the indie label, including his most recent The Vagabond Songs. "To be associated with Mark and some of the really great songwriters is positive for everyone involved. Mark is the most laidback guy I know. He has a pure love for music and is a music fan at heart." Eventually, Logan looked outside the K-W area to find artists to join his growing roster. "It grew into a regional thing with some talented non-K-Town songwriters who were steered my way through referrals by other artists such as Brock Zeman and Dan Walsh."

Logan is helped by Rick Klaver, who does art direction and marketing and Walsh, who he says brings, "studio wizardry" and a gung-ho attitude. Busted Flat has 11 artists on its roster and it has sold more than 15,000 records; the 2007 collaboration between Zeman and Walsh (The Bourbon Sessions) is its top seller. Logan says his boutique label is dedicated to releasing records by passionate, honest, soulful artists. Take a spin of any of the label’s 20 releases and the passion and soul Alviano references clearly shines through. Busted Flat operates on a business model guided by this same passion and honesty, with 75 percent of the profits to artists, 15 percent pays for production and roughly ten percent goes to the label.

"Everything is done with a handshake," Logan says. "Everyone owns their music and should a big deal come along, they are free to go." Logan has found the biggest challenge of running a small record label is getting his artists music heard. "There is so much music out there," he says. "Our most successful artists are the ones who tour all the time since off-stage sales are a huge part of our revenue. If we can get people out to the shows, they will go home with CDs." Busted Flat also sells its CDs via its website, Encore Records in Kitchener, and online at e-distributors such as CD Baby and iTunes. More recently Logan has found social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace have been great new ways to help promote his little label.

"MySpace and the like give everyone an opportunity to get heard," he says. "We’ve had good luck with reviews and airplay in Canada and it is slowly growing with each release." Looking to the future, Logan hopes to continue to provide a home for passionate singer-songwriters to release roots music; he’d also love to dig into the archives and unearth some forgotten homegrown songwriters of old. "I’d love to reissue some lost Canadian classics. Johnny MacLeod comes to mind."