Q and A with the CEO of Guano Records, Brieon “Overlord Gruff” Russell
1. Q. How did you get your idea or concept for Guano Records?
A. I had the idea to create a record label for many years now; I just never knew the proper steps to take. As the years went by, it became apparent that the standard for music has dropped significantly. I mean really dropped. So, while enrolled in the Audio-Engineering program at Mediatech Institute in Oceanside California, my instructor had asked if our class wanted to start a record label. I let the class know that I had already started working on a logo and website designs towards my own label. Since I made the initial steps towards my goal, I had already made critical steps towards our instructor’s idea. We then created and accepted roles within the company, and began to learn and work on each of these roles. Our class all gets along, and we all have different personalities and backgrounds in music. I feel it’s my duty to take a stand. We all have the tools, and knowledge we need to be successful.
2. Q. What was your mission at the outset?
A. World Domination. Just kidding, but seriously. We believed that we all had the talents to create a services based company where audio engineers and musicians could grow and flourish. I wanted to work with a well-established CEO and got everything I asked for in C.Michael Brae. He has taught us real-world enterprise solutions. I have always been a leader and I am creative and take great satisfaction out of building things, family, friends and our company. I appreciate the opportunity to sink or swim based on my own effort and hard work.
3. Q. How many employees?
A. 9 Employees
3 Public Relations and Marketing
3 Artist Development and Relations
2 Sales and Distribution
2 VP’s of A & R Department
1 Business Admin/Public Relations
1 Photo/Digital Film Photographer
Each employee has the pleasure of wearing multiple hats. We each have a job to do, and by tasking out work to each other, it has allowed us to interact more efficiently as a unit.
4. Q. To what do you attribute your success?
A. Two things:
Ruthless Persistence and Razor Focus.
Choosing really outstanding people who are self-motivated and do not need to be managed.
5. Q. What made you choose your current location?
A. Every founding member of Guano Records has a history with Mediatech Institute in Oceanside, California. It only seemed right to somehow incorporate the two locations together. We are actually located in the same building as the school we each attended. It’s pretty cool to interact with those who put you on the path to success!
6. Q. What are your goals for the company?
A. Our goal at Guano Records is simple; be the premier #1 Recording & Services Company in the world.
7. Q. Do you work locally or nationally?
A. Both, but most of our work comes from around the country. The geographical location of an artist used to be detrimental to ones success. Los Angeles, Nashville and New York used to be the 3 powerhouses for breaking records. With today’s technology, all an artist needs is a microphone and a laptop.
8. Q. What is unique about your business?
A. We do project based recording and engineering and great rates. We are well rounded and know all aspects of development to include the graphics, marketing, business, as well as the technology. All of our engineer staff and designers are certified in Avid Pro Tools. We are a dynamic group of teammates that will ensure you receive the highest quality our team has to offer. It would prove quite difficult to someone searching for another record label like Guano. Our services are unmatched!
9. Q. What are your responsibilities as the business owner?
A. Everything! Owning a business that employs 9+ people means that I also have the responsibility for 9+ families that depend on me to make good decisions. I also have a responsibility to my customers and vendors. So for every decision I make I have to think about the consequences and weigh a lot of factors. In the end I am ultimately responsible.
10. Q. What made you choose this type of business?
A. I used to freestyle in the military. I became so good that people declined competition with me. After I won so many battles, I found myself becoming the angry battle rapper with no outlet to release energy, wandering the earth courting those who searched for combat! It wasn’t until 2007 I learned how to record my vocals over an instrumental. Composing verses and hooks took up all of my time. It kept me out of a lot of trouble and out of the streets. Once I found my voice on the microphone, I knew this was something I would do as long as possible.
11. Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
A. Listen to your heart, not someone else’s and create your own future! Start and be part of something that is bigger than you. No one is going to give it to you, so you have to work very, very hard for your dreams. There are no guarantees with success. In order to win big you have to take huge risks. You will find that nothing great just happens on its own, you can't sit on the sidelines and wait for it. Be ruthlessly persistent and have a lions focus!