Break Even: A History
01.01.01 The First Three Years
Break Even began as an experiment. it was a three-year mission to see if a non-profit imprint could work in the real world, and ultimately, support itself.
In the Fall of 1997, Break Even's first CD release came in the form of the Ubisunt swan song Identity, a final release for Philadelphia's greatest (and only) death hip-hop quintet. My original intention was only to release this album, throwing the "Break Even" name on it almost as a joke. The idea was not to begin a "record label" per se, but rather to see if selling CDs at a dramatically reduced price could cover the cost associated with producing them. Sounded simple enough.
Despite the fact that Ubisunt had disbanded in May of 1996, i felt that i had to do something with the unused songs that we had recorded. i didn't (and still don't) know a lot about running a record label, but i had a pretty good idea of what not to do - most of this experience coming from lessons learned during the production of the first Ubisunt release, Reflections. i just knew i wanted to stay involved with the music, and releasing Identity seemed like the most realistic way to do it considering the serious lack of talent holding me back.
In the months that followed, i was amazed with the success i was having selling CDs of a "dead" band that hadn't played in over a year. The support was there, and that planted the seeds for what Break Even has now become.
Around the same time that i was finishing work on Identity, i was also spending some time at Skylight Studio (where i would have done the Ubisunt album if i had had a brain) working on a little project called Subunit. While there, Vince Ratti took the time to play me some of the bands he was currently recording. One in particular really stood out.
The band was called Bazhena, and they had just finished work on some incredible songs but had no idea what they were going to do with them. That's when it hit me. Here was a group of kids who could really and truly go anywhere, but chances were they were gonna get screwed in some way by a jerk that's looking to make a few bucks off of their talent. i knew that's where i could step in. i knew my ideals, and i knew that i liked what i heard. The rest is history.
We released the second Break Even album, Bazhena's The Kissing Ambulance, in the Spring of 1998 and things have just sort of evolved from there. Sometimes bands come to us looking for help. Sometimes we go to them offering help. In any case, we find like-minded people and put out some great music that everyone involved believes in. We may not sell a million, or even a thousand copies, but we don't really need to, and to a certain extent we don't really want to.
Our family has grown tremendously in the past three years. We have members spanning nearly from coast to coast. Sometimes they're people we've never even seen, but we know where they stand, and more importantly we know what they stand for.
The crucial element in all of this, however, is our fans and our friends. You are the ones that have kept us going. You are the ones who have made it all seem worth it in the end (and believe me - there were times when it really did not seem worth it.) All in all, you are what made this experiment a success. Where we go from here depends on you just as much as us, and hopefully we can keep going for a long time to come.