Can you share the story behind the inception of Argonauta Records and how your passion for Heavy Rock and related genres influenced the label’s focus?
It has been something born as a joke, in a sense. During 2012, when the label officially started, I was working as promoter for an Italian distribution company. I had this long-time passion to care something by myself and exclusively dedicated to the genres of music I’m most dedicated to. Back in the days and musically I have been formed during the nineties, when the music scene was flourishing. Rock, Metal and Indie. The combination of these large groups gave life to my very own personal taste that today is formed by a bit of Grunge, a bit of Post Metal and a bit of Alternative Rock.

With over a decade of experience in the music industry, what challenges did you face when establishing Argonauta Records, and how did you overcome them?
Really a lot and still doing, as the market is changing quite fast each month now and we have to stay focused through a daily work to keep up the attention of all insiders and music fans. I remember during the early days that socials where something mysterious and a platform as Instagram even did not exist. Also streaming platforms for small labels were not considered at all during that first months. It was just a time where I worked to set up a network of good contacts and bands. Step by step the market rules hit hard and the main challenge of today is to make people understanding that music is not free. Just because you can easily listen whatever album in every moment of the day, it is important to be aware that physical products are still key to keep up the underground.

How do you scout and select artists for your roster, and what qualities do you look for in a potential signee?
Today I’ve some detailed rules: having a good album is no more the unique important thing. The part of market we are focused in (mostly made of new and young bands) determines that bands have to stay connected to their fan-base, be active by playing gigs, having all their socials updated all the time, sharing contents and work hard. If you have great music and a professional attitude towards all these aspects, there are good chance you receive a proposal from us.

Can you tell us about the curation process and the level of involvement you have in shaping the artistic direction of the albums released under Argonauta Records?
The artistic direction is entirely cared by the band. Of course I’m available all the time for consulting, though when I approach a band I usually already know what to expect. Instead the label involvement is about other parts of the works, such as promotion in media, word of mouth, coverage in shops. We are all aware there are a lot of releases and the main part of my job is to say all the time something like “Hey, here’s a band you should absolutely check”. Turned out that people who listen and buy music tends to be focused always on the same artists. Our journey is set to do something different: to give an opportunity to new music and new bands.

The genres you focus on often have unique and passionate fan bases. How do you engage with these communities, and what role do they play in shaping the label’s strategies and decisions?
In a sense, it is something quite easy for this reason: I’m personally part of that fan-base myself. I’m in daily touch with a lot of media and customers, sharing opinions, going together into the good and the struggles. I’m used to keep my eyes and ears wide open to decide any new strategy. The feedback given by all the various components is key to take any final decision at various level, from the most technical to the most effective as for example a special price campaign to be proposed during the year and for different products.

How does Argonauta Records contribute to building and nurturing this community, both locally and globally, among artists and fans alike?
To work with many bands, release many albums and staying in touch with many insiders, this turned out to be my way to care the thing. Giving continuity and consistency at best I can.

In the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry, how has Argonauta Records adapted to digital advancements and changes in consumer behavior, ensuring the label’s continued success and relevance?
Streaming has a double value: it is a big promotional tool for bands and labels when used in the correct way. While it is something extremely bad when you think that streaming is the real deal for everyone. It is not, a good listening experience has to be followed by a physical purchase. The challenge is to find music fans who have your same opinion and that can help you to spread the word by saying “Today I bought this beautiful CD or VINY, it changed my day”.

Could you share your experiences working with some of established musicians and the impact these collaborations have on the label’s reputation and reach?
Though Argonauta is mostly known to work with small and underground bands, I had the opportunity to hit the journey of a bunch of bands I was already fan back in the days: the first names I can speak of are Los Natas, Ancient VVisdom, Suma, Throes of Dawn, Niklas Sundin of Dark Tranquillity (with his solo project Mitochondrial Sun), Dee Calhoun (of Iron Man) and Autumnblaze. It is very satisfying to exchange opinion with them all, especially for their long-time run into the music market. I think the main thing the label obtained by working with these artists is to be considered as a competitor at international level not just for the Italian soil.

Argonauta Records has a diverse roster of artists. How do you support each artist’s unique vision while ensuring a cohesive identity for the label as a whole?
Let me say that it is very nice that you noticed this kind of aspect. I could have not saying it in better way “different artists for a cohesive label identity”, worth a sticker, haha! I think it is mostly due for the reason that everything is cared by passion. I’m really happy to work with that band, with that album, to build together opportunities and stay connected to the community, it is satisfying. Argonauta is all about to have “new music for the masses”.

With a wide array of releases under your belt, can you highlight some of the standout moments in Argonauta Records’ history, such as significant album releases or memorable collaborations, and the impact they had on the label’s trajectory?
Various experience helped the label in various way. Even the negative ones of course. Speaking of good ones, I think no one could get offended if I mention an historical band like the Finnish Throes of Dawn. When I got the chance to work with them, the label was totally into doom and stoner rock. By approaching their dark progressive sound and following the very nice result in terms of promotion and distribution, it gave me the idea to give the label a new approach by working also with other genres of music and having a diversified proposal.

What strategies does Argonauta Records employ to promote its artists effectively, especially considering the niche genres you specialize in (except for your publicist Grand Sounds PR)?
I keep a strict contact with the label fan-base, by issuing newsletters which looks like a sort of news bulletin, e-shop communications with new products and special offers, daily activity on social networks by spreading all the useful links for all bands.

In addition to the digital landscape, physical formats like vinyl and cassette tapes have experienced a resurgence in recent years. How has this trend affected Argonauta Records, and how do you balance the demand for both digital and physical releases?
For Argonauta, physical will stay key forever. For the relatively small numbers we do, if compared to bigger labels, digital is mostly a potential promotional tool that we can use to make people aware of our existence. Speaking of formats: CD is still the main one which grants cheap price and larger circulation. Vinyl definitely turned back, though it is mostly dedicated to a niche of collectors. Tapes, in my experience, are just something nice for touring bands to have this format on their merch table to be sold direct-to-fans.

As a label owner, you have a unique perspective on the creative process. How do you see the role of labels evolving in the future, and what do you think emerging artists should consider when seeking representation from a record label?
Small and underground labels today are mostly “communicator”. Labels gives the opportunity to the band to enter in touch with a larger audience, made of all kinds of people, from gig promoters to final consumer. I also like the idea to make the bands “part of something”, I see our most active bands always interact among them and trying to arrange gigs, split albums, collaborations at various levels. Argonauta today is a sort of meeting point for all kinds of needs for a band interested to work with us.

Are there any upcoming projects or releases from Argonauta Records that you’re particularly excited about, and could you provide us with a sneak peek into what fans can expect in the near future?
At the moment I’d like to mention that I’m working to diversify the next Argonauta releases via a new imprint I’m giving life too, exclusively dedicated to new bands at their debut. Right now I do not want to tease anything else, though probably when this interview is public, there could be already some news around.

Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians looking to enter the music industry, especially in the niche genres that Argonauta Records specializes in?
They have to be aware that our part of the market is mostly moved by passion and attitude. They have to keep the band alive whatever result they may obtain during the first steps. It is supposed you play stoner rock or post metal not for the money, rather because playing it generates good feelings for your day. And if you want to front the industry, this is a big challenge made of great things and bad things, you have to accept both and keep working while always trying to improve.

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