Fading Ways

Headquarters: Toronto, ON
Date of Birth: 1999
Releases to Date: 46
Bestseller: Kevin Quain Hangover Honeymoon, Neil Leyton Secret Avenue
Upcoming Releases: The Sinisters Terminal Volume
Online: www.fadingwaysmusic.com

If things had worked out differently, Fading Ways would be sitting on a bookshelf instead of putting out music. When founder Neil Leyton first heard the term "fading ways,” it was in a song lyric a friend wrote. Leyton interpreted it as the process by which people lose track of who they are. It reignited the feeling a teenaged Leyton felt about how people don’t end up doing what they want in life. When he discovered a book by Swiss psychologist Arno Gruen that explored the disintegration of ambitions, Leyton decided to pen his own book, to be titled Fading Ways. Admitting that he can’t write anything for longer than ten minutes, Leyton focused his attention on building a label; since its inception, Fading Ways has been building a solid roster that includes classic acts like the Sinisters and shimmering rock’n’roll upstarts like the Red Light Rippers and Meet John Doe.

Share and Share Alike
Based on his experiences in ’90s band the Conscience Pilate, which led to record and distribution deals that "went nowhere,” Leyton constructed the label as a community instead of a capitalist venture. Fading Ways adopted Creative Commons licences, which means that fans are free to copy Fading Ways releases and upload MP3s as long as no money changes hands. "Creative Commons really is an extension of the entire philosophy — staying true to yourself and to your fans and doing things differently from the rest of the people in the industry,” Leyton says.

Consulting, Not Controlling
Leyton prefers to think of Fading Ways as a community and surprises himself when he refers to an album as a product. When the label integrated Creative Commons licences, it was done after consulting with the artists involved. This democratic process is business as usual for Leyton, who offers 50/50 deals with artists. This leaves production costs in artists’ hands so that they maintain creative control. The label takes over at the manufacturing and marketing stages. No money is spent without the artists’ approval, and although the contracts are exclusive, they can be cancelled with 30 days written notice. "We live in a market that’s dominated by major distributors and major companies, and it’s tough,” Leyton says. "I think a label really has to have a community approach to their artist signings so they can mutually support each other. [If you’re] applying a business model that comes from the ’80s — which was economically booming for the music industry — to the new century it just doesn’t work. Unless you partner up with your artists I think you’re going to run into some pretty tough waters and probably go under.”

Identity Crisis
With strong ethics in place and an unwavering stance on CopyLeft issues, Leyton admits that fans are often attracted to the label because of its politics. But with its solid releases and wide range of sounds, the surface only has to be scratched slightly before discovering an identity that is immediately identifiable. "We’re a niche label,” Leyton says. "We’re getting better known, and for better or worse, we’re getting known as a label that’s doing the Creative Commons thing rather than as a label that has great artists. Now invariably, when people listen to the music they’ll go, ‘Wow, this is great, why didn’t I hear about it before?’”

The Long and Short of the Future
"We refuse to put any kind of copy protection on the music and we’re aware that that limits our reach, but I think that’s a good thing because it’s placing our ethics and our mode of operation ahead of commercial interests. And yeah, we’d love to sell more records but we have to sell more records according to our rules, not the industry’s rules.”