Rob DPiazza of Streaker Records: Branding, Politics and Female Leads

Hip Hop isn’t the only genre that holds record labels and brands high in regards to fan loyalty, the rock world does too. A few years back it was all about Decaydance and Clandestine thanks to some amazing bands the likes of some guy named Pete Wentz, remember him? Just kidding, love you Pete! Anways, today Hopeless Records kills it in the indie scene due to tween scene kings All Time Low and pop punk lords The Wonder Years, and Hopeless knows what they’re doing having their bands wear the shit out of Glamour Kills gear. But there are other labels in the land and when you hit Warped Tour or Bamboozle, you’ll see their tents trying hard to make their name known, one of them is Streaker Records.

Streaker Records is different in the sense that they not only offer up an array of rock that spans what’s popular in today’s spectrum from hardcore to pop punk, but they also have their own clothing line. They don’t need to have their bands go out and wear some other companies threads because they got it all covered.

One of the men behind Streaker Records is co-founder Rob DPiazza. It’s obvious he knows music and fashion, but what’s he got to say about the whole Disney and Star Wars thing? Mickey and Han Solo aside, keep your eyes glued to this interview for why no females are on the Streaker roster, the importance of social interaction and so much more.

Kendra: Seeing how fan interaction is a big deal to Streaker Records, how would you continue that personal touch if all social media suddenly disappeared?

Rob DPiazza: Social media is huge to our company. We do 60% of our interaction with Facebook and email blast, but we are very involved in festival touring as well. If you see a Streaker Records tent at Warped Tour, Bamboozle, or another tour, the people working will be the owners or band members. We always had the philosophy that face to face is the best way to make fans. It doesn’t matter how well known you are fans recognize someone that is in a band and want a picture or hug or autograph. Once one person realizes they are talking to a band member and directly buying a CD from them, it gives them that personal touch. They will go home and tell their friends I got my CD from the lead singer or bass player of whatever band. It builds excitement for them. We encourage all our bands to work their own merch booths and hang out with the fans during and after the show. It is after all the fans who are paying for the CDs, t shirts and merch.

Kendra: There’s a good array of artists on your guys roster, so can you share what makes a band really stand out and makes you all take notice? Just to give artists reading a heads up on what they can do…

Rob: There’s a couple things for me. First off is a killer live show. That doesn’t mean I need flashy lights or choreographed dancing or anything like that. I just want a band that can bring it night after night whether there is 10 people watching or 10,000. I love a band that throws down like it’s their very last show every single night. I think a lot of bands don’t give it everything they got if they show up to a small crowd, but that small crowd can be the biggest critic. if you can blow those 10-15 people away they will tell their friends and slowly that 10-15 people turned into 50-75 people the next time you are in that city.

The next thing that I really look for is emotion. We have a band called The Drama State on the label; extremely hard working and extremely hungry to make it in this business. They are constantly asking me, what can we do to get better? I try to hash out a 6 -12 month plan with all our bands and sometimes we try to implement little things that may be out of a bands comfort zone but they are willing to try it. Drama State is a rock band and I proposed the idea of making a 4 song EP acoustically as a bonus CD later down the road. The band obviously can play acoustically but it’s not who they are onstage. We wanted to strip them down and really let the emotion of the lyrics come through because if you listen to their album is filled with heartache, love, betrayal. Fans can relate to a lot of what they are saying. The band was very open to giving it a shot and we plan on recording in the next month or so.

Kendra: I couldn’t help but notice there aren’t any female on the roster, is that a sign that there’s a lack of women in the genres Streaker represents?

Rob: I ask myself this same question every day. When I sit down in meetings with our publishing department I always ask what can we do to increase that side of the business, and he always responds, female rock vocalist. I think what’s really hurting it right now is just finding the right girl. We have looked into a few female fronted bands in the past but the recordings sounded empty to me, and the live show was just alright. The lead had talent but there was no emotion behind what they were saying. It’s so hard in a male dominated market to get to that truly talented female lead. I’m not saying women can’t do it at all either. In fact I was blown away this summer by some of the female fronted acts on Warped Tour. I know they are out there we just have to dig deeper to find them. Every so often I will throw up a post on Facebook or our Twitter asking our fans to tag their favorite local band in a post so we can try to find new talent. Hopefully they see this and send us some bands like Tonight Alive.

Kendra: There are women modeling the clothing line side of the business though, and unlike brands like Glamour Kills, you utilize models that are very sexy in poses that can be labeled as “provocative.” Do you believe in the whole “sex sells” thing then?

Rob: I don’t think we started off this way but it certainly seems that way. You always want to display your products in a visually pleasing way.  We don’t go looking very far for our models, a lot of them are friends of ours right from our hometown. My wife even modeled for us once. It really depends on what we are trying to achieve. We have some recent images that we posted of a model named Cahri that she actually had done on her own. She met us at Warped and showed us the pictures and I contacted the photographer about using them. They were very “provocative” shots with our GET NAKED shirt on but I think they were done tastefully. I guess if we are trying to get the guys involved on our page we will post up a few of her shots.

But a lot of our fans are a younger demographic. I think we want to display or clothing the best we can but with a company named “STREAKER” people have to understand we are going to be pushing the line with some of our designs. We try to have fun with our name and brand some shirt to younger fans. We have a really busy robot shirt in years past and shirts with a Sharktopus on it, just something that everyone could buy. But then we have our shock shirts like GET NAKED and I’M A STREAKER. People find them funny and they play of the streaker theme. We try to keep it classy as possible and find models fitting for the image of the shirt.

We had Grammy nominated Jazz musician Robert Glasper in a King shirt a while back that we had on the site as well as members of Falling in Reverse. I think we just try to display things that people will pay attention to. Good looking girls and tattooed guys seem to be what works for now.

Kendra: Being out with Warped Tour for five years now, what do you think is the biggest issues you face as a business at these festivals that bands probably don’t?

Rob: Branding. A big name band will always beat out the little guy, which is sad. I see a lot of very dedicated fans that are so close minded to new music. Warped Tour was built so the little guys could be heard and the fans are slowly changing that. But I don’t think it’s done intentionally. It’s just a crazy over-saturated selling, free for all, at Warped Tour now that I think kids are sick of having people say, “Come check out my band,” every five steps. They have an agenda and they know who they want to see and what they want to buy. It’s our job to make them open up a little and take two minutes out of their day to try something new, and 90% of the time they actually like what they are hearing and then they feel embarrassed that they almost blew off one of us.

Kendra: What were you more concerned about, Disney owning Star Wars or the election, and why?

Rob: Now you guys are actually trying to play off my nerd love of Star Wars haha. I won’t lie I was shocked at the Disney purchase and I will say I’m extremely skeptical of the next few movies. Hopefully Disney will do them justice.

But I personally was more concerned with the election. Streaker is a very open minded company. I lived in the Park Ave area of Rochester, NY for many years which has a very large gay community and we at Streaker are very accepting of. We post on our page almost weekly gay rights post just so the community knows they have our support. All of October we had a cover photo stating it was “OUT-ober” encouraging people to come out of the closet especially on national coming out day. I won’t sit here and say I was overly thrilled with either of the main candidates but I felt shocked that civil rights were still having this much of an impact on an election in 2012. I personally felt we needed to fix our social issues before we worry about our economic issues.

Kendra: If you had to make a mixtape of 5 songs that represented Streaker Records best, which 5 would you choose?

Rob: Love this part and this isn’t hard for me as we have a pretty diverse roster:
The Drama State “If Your Left Ear Itches
Storm The Bay “Tell Dan K I’m Looking For Him
Amberain “We Are Ghosts
A Kings Affliction “Howie Ball
Crimson Tigers “The Lionheart

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