Mark Samuels - Owner & Founder of Basin Street Records - A 20 Year Journey and Counting as an Independent Record Label Featuring the Beautiful Sounds of New Orleans

Mark Samuels - Basin Street Records

You can also listen to this episode on iTunes | Spotify | Stitcher |

Longevity is the word that resonates the most with me when it comes to building a successful career or being an entrepreneur. Creators - musicians, songwriters, filmmakers, artists, producers, etc. are all entrepreneurs and therefore business owners. I find a lot of entrepreneurs that get really impatient three to four years into their journey. Often times even sooner. We want things to happen right now. I’ve been there myself. One of the lessons that took me the longest to learn, but resonates the most with me today, is to look at a career in terms of the long-term picture. Yes, it’s important to seize the day and live every day to be as fulfilled as possible. However, in reality, we spent most of our time on the journey to our goals, then actually at the final destination itself. Most of us are going to live to be over 80 years old. If you have “success” in your 20’s, what happens for the next 50-60 years? What happens when you run out of money?

When I think of success and longevity, I think of people like Make Samuels, owner, and founder of Basin Street Records. Not only is he focused on the longevity of his label, but also the artists he represents. He takes personal responsibility to wake up early every day, knowing he’s responsible for their livelihood, and their families livelihood. In 2017, Basin Street Records celebrated it’s 20 Year Anniversary as an Independent Record Label. The label features the wonderful sounds of New Orleans with artists such as Kermit Ruffins, Irvin Mayfield, Rebirth Brass Band, Jon Cleary, Los Hombres Calientes, Jeremy Davenport, Bonerama, and so many more. Mark Samuels, started the label in 1997 with the release of Kermit Ruffins - the Barbecue Swingers Live, which was recorded at the historic music venue, Tipitina’s. The labels second album, Los Hombres Calientes won a Latin Billboard Award, and the 2012 Rebirth Brass Band album “Rebirth of New Orleans,” brought the label it’s first Grammy win. In this conversation, Mark Samuels shares these and many more stories. You’ll learn how the label started, New Orleans culture, and many lessons on running an independent record label.

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Also, I hope you open yourself up to exploring different styles of music, and listen to the sounds of New Orleans. The sounds of Basin Street Records.

Get the 20 YEAR Anniversary Album featuring Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield.

Get the 20 YEAR Anniversary Album featuring Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield.

Highlights from this Episode
[3:02] Mark Samuels first concert experience
[4:00] The first time he picked up an instrument
[5:15] Moving from New Orleans to New York City
[6:52] First experience with the music industry
[10:42] Past and current mentors
[12:30] Getting started on the business side of the music industry
[25:35] Lessons learned from promoting concerts
[30:33] Deals and contracts
[36:22] Creating your labels vision and brand
[40:48] Running a label being based in New Orleans
[55:04] Advice for getting a label started
[59:31] Things artists should look for in working with a label
[1:05:16] The Grammy Winning Rebirth Brass Band Album
[1:08:40] Getting to know Mark Samuels

Quotes from Mark Samuels
“Figure out what things are important, and what things you can do better.”
“Speech, Debate, Creative Writing - no matter what you’re doing. Those are the things you should spend time on.”
“When you’re dealing with intellectual property, you can’t do things on a handshake.”
“When you have partners, you need to have an agreement about how you’re going to part ways.”
“You have to be prepared for disasters.”
“Get the accounting systems started from day one.”
“If you’re not going to run your business properly, don’t start a business.”
“If you have people that are going to count on you, outside of yourself, you better be prepared to wake up early and work, every day.”
“Learn as many different things that you can.”
“You’re going to need aspects of your career managed. Figure out what those are.”
“Ask to speak to the other bands that are signed to that label.”
“If you bring enough to the table, you’ll find someone willing to work with you.”
“It’s too easy to take a good picture on an iPhone, to have a lousy press photo.”

Links to people, places, and things mentioned
Wynton Marsalis
New Orleans Jazz Fest
University of Texas (Austin)
Delfeayo Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
The Police
Cutting Edge Music Business Conference
Generations Hall
Jeremy Davenport
Kermit Ruffins
Tom Thompson
Basin Street Records
The Barbecue Swingers Live
OffBeat Music Magazine
Justice Records
Rebirth Brass Band
Irvin Mayfield
Los Hombres Calientes
Jason Marsalis
Snug Harbor  
House of Blues New Orleans
Orpheum Theater - New Orleans
Jon Cleary
Henry Butler
Dr. Michael White
Louis Armstrong
Earl Palmer
Neville Brothers
The Meters
Dr. John
The Subdudes
Treme (TV Show)
NCIS New Orleans (TV Show)
Grammy Winning Rebirth Brass Band Album - Rebirth of New Orleans
“A Beautiful World” - 20 Year Anniversary Album
Haley Reinhart
Spinal Tap
22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Ries

Mark Samuels’ Definition of Making It:
“I think I’ve made it! I have 4 amazing kids. With them, I think I’m leaving the world in a better spot, and I hope our music lives on forever.”

Get in touch with Mark Samuels

A Small Sample of the Sounds of Basin Street Records