Brian Witkin’s dad performed at Woodstock as a member of Sha Na Na. The son had experienced success running a CD store at the all-ages Epicentre music venue. But a major setback ten years ago informed Witkin, then 22, that maybe the music business wasn’t for him.
Witkin, who played in a band, wanted to help other local musicians get affordable studio time. He opened Love Juice Studios in Otay Mesa, ignoring those who warned him against “McStudio,” the nickname for the Riverside company that basically franchised its name to satellite studios. Witkin did struggle with Love Juice Studios but he eventually rebounded. (“It’s important who you get involved with. Let’s just leave it at that.”)
Lemmy Kilmister (feat. Chris Declercq), "We Are the Ones"
Pacific Records, his record label/recording studio complex behind Soma on Sports Arena Boulevard, just passed its five-year mark. Recently, Rolling Stone noted the release of “Lemmy’s Final Solo Recording,” issued by Pacific.
Witkin says they got the Lemmy release because one of his 16 active artists (guitarist/producer Chris Declercq) met the Motörhead frontman at the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset and recorded Lemmy’s “We Are the Ones” last January.
Witkin appreciates the publicity the Lemmy release will bring to Pacific Records but says the label’s mission is to break new artists. “Our core business is trying to take artists no one has heard of and break them worldwide."
He says his model is different than Surfdog Records', the 24-year-old Encinitas-based label whose 30-plus artist roster includes such established artists as the Stray Cats, Eric Clapton, and Gary Hoey.
“Everything is shrinking with the devaluation of music. Downloads used to be the primary way we would access music. Now its streaming, which pays even less to the artist. The music business is now all about trying to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie....
“The two sweet spots for artists to make money today are playing live and getting royalties from soundtracks. TV and film is more relevant than ever in the music industry.”
Music of Pacific singer/guitarist Lindsay Perry is on four different networks’ TV shows; and local pop group Supergroupie has music on episodes of Empire, Scorpion, and Criminal Minds. Five Pacific Records artists appeared on the soundtrack for 9/11, an indie film released in September with Charlie Sheen and Whoopie Goldberg.
Witkin says he does not push artists into using the Pacific Records home studio. “We’ve used [local studios] Pacific Beat and Studio West. We used Dave Grohl’s Studio 606 in L.A. twice.”
Pacific Records’ artist stable includes Southerners Benton Blount (country) and Bizness Suit (straight-ahead rock) and locals Sandollar (reggae) Ryan Hiller (blues), and Leto Romero (Spanish guitar). Witkin says all releases are digital, “...and eight out of ten are CDs. We’ve done some vinyl. The Lemmy single will be on seven-inch in February.”