While Definitive Recordings has plenty of history and accomplishments to bedazzle any music guru, it’s the present-day agility and insight that has the electronic music world taking notice from the sidelines. In the last five years the label has been revived and brought to new life with inextinguishable vigor. Embellished by the fresh, unbounded foresight of the new generation and neoteric producers, the label has progressed beyond even its highest expectations and year after year, achieves new levels of notoriety and success.
Label head and A&R man John Acquaviva has given focus to seeking and presenting the latest emerging sounds and talent to the world via a reputable, consistent, and trust-worthy platform. But he has a little help from his friends; Enter France-based DJ and producer Olivier Giacomotto, signed exclusively to Definitive Recordings since 2007. As a heavily touring artist, he helps John test the demos on the best litmus an A&R man could ask for: the fans! Hearing John and Olivier spin is the nearest thing to sitting in a label board meeting, where the fate of most potential signings is decided by the reaction of the crowd. After all, if they’re not dancing, how would the label fathom selling the same track to other DJs who want their crowd to move and shake?
It is through their extensive touring, incredible networking, and now the new demo feature on the label’s webpage, that youthful and exciting new talent is harnessed and nurtured.
Having a deep understanding of what it means to be a label in this digital age, Definitive makes strategic moves in synch with the demands and expectations of the tech-saavy masses.
For example, the label gladly shares each and every upcoming track on its YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/definitiverecordings), in advance of their release dates. Says John, “The music is going to be put up there anyway, so we might as well use YouTube to our advantage, and funnel all of our viewers to our channel, where we can at least provide links to purchase, as well as direct fans to our website.” He continues, “Not only that, but it also gives fans a first listen, and if they like what they hear, it’s a great way to have our content at the top of people’s pages/suggestions by way of shares and updates via social networking sites”.
Definitive seizes every opportunity to take advantage of what the digital age and infrastructure provides, both in broad senses like marketing and distribution, but also in its core operations. As Mark Quail, partner and leading music lawyer puts it, “It’s amazing what technology allows us to do as modern record company. We have built a system where we can communicate with artists on every continent, receive state-of-the-art sound files from them, have cutting-edge artwork designed, release videos and sell the tracks, and ultimately make payments to the artist all via the internet. We can tap a truly international source of talent and help it get heard around the world, and this can all be accomplished easily from our satellite offices.”
Operations aside, Definitive Recordings’ momentum, prominence, fan base and chart success continues to accelerate with each year that passes. In 2010 alone, the label proudly held 44 chart positions on the Top 100 Charts of the world’s biggest electronic music digital distributor, Beatport. It welcomed 13 new contributing artists, including, Sahar Z & Guy Mantzur, Ben Lb, Fred Walter, Da Fresh, Ulisses Nunes, Libex, Mladen Tomic and Phunk Investigation.
Launched originally in 1991 by John Acquaviva, Richie Hawtin and Karl Kowalski, Definitive established the housier side of the electronic empire that Hawtin and Acquaviva started with Plus 8 Records in 1990. Definitive’s style of house music was the dominant sound of mid-west North America, being played in raves and after-hours parties everywhere. History has been kind and holds in high regard seminal anthems like ‘House 4 All’ by The Blunted Dummies, “Do Da Doo” by Robotman and “Get House” by Calisto, with the tracks still getting heavy play and licensing action from the industry’s leading lights.
After a hiatus in the late 90s, John Acquaviva, having assumed the reins of the label from Hawtin, relaunched Definitive in 2005 in partnership with renowned entertainment attorney Mark Quail at the same time as the revolution in digital distribution was taking hold in the underground electronic music world. With the hand-cuffs of selling physical goods removed, there was an explosion of high quality releases and remixes as Acquaviva tapped into an international pool of talent featuring Olivier Giacomotto & Dj Tonio from France; Greg Kobe/Robot Needs Oil from Poland; America’s Jan van Lier; Canada’s Mark Mendes, D Unity, Adam K & Addy; Italy’s Uto Karem & Alex Kenji; Isreal’s Sahar Z & Guy Mantzur and Australia’s Bass Kleph.
Definitive has fully morphed into its new digital self and is a paragon of sound. Acquaviva’s globe-spanning DJ gigs continue to bring him into contact with today’s hottest new producers and old school godfathers who are still masters at the mixing console. Pushing the envelope, encouraging new talent, and signing new sounds, Definitive is always at the forefront of the ever-evolving tech house and techno sounds. Never a label to release tracks for commercial appeal only, Definitive always aims to deliver the vibe of the underground that made and makes club music what it is today.
From techno to tech-house to house and more, Definitive charges forward with a fierce release schedule, a strong focus, and a wonderful group of supportive followers and fans who, at the end of the day, determine the label’s fate… and so far, it’s looking good.