In a music industry that’s inundated with top 40 hits and Taylor Swift lookalikes, it can be tough for emerging artists to get their foot in the door. But for the past several years, one independent record label has been dedicated to shining the spotlight on up-and-coming musicians. That label is Rock Paper Scissors Records.
Founded in 2012 by music industry veteran John Szuch, Rock Paper Scissors Records (RPS) has quickly made a name for itself as a champion of indie artists. The label’s mission is simple: to provide a platform for musicians who might not otherwise have access to the resources and exposure needed to launch their careers.
Szuch, who has been in the music business for over 30 years, came up with the idea for RPS after he noticed a trend in the industry: “I saw a lot of great talent out there, but I also saw that a lot of it was being overlooked. The music industry can be very focused on what’s popular and what’s already successful. I wanted to create a label that would help give a voice to the artists who deserve to be heard.”
And that’s exactly what RPS has done. Since its inception, the label has released over 20 albums and EPs from a variety of genres, ranging from indie rock to folk to electronic. Some of the label’s notable artists include the indie-folk band The Wild Reeds, the dreamy pop duo Swimm, and the experimental electronic artist Millionyoung.
So how does RPS find these artists? According to Szuch, it’s all about networking and staying connected to the music scene. “I go to a lot of shows and festivals. I listen to a lot of demos. I talk to other people in the industry and see who they’re excited about. But ultimately, it all comes down to the music. If I hear something that moves me, that’s when I know I’ve found an artist worth working with.”
Once an artist is signed to RPS, the label works closely with them to ensure they have all the resources they need to succeed. This includes everything from recording and production assistance to marketing and booking gigs. “We’re a small label, but we have a lot of experience and connections in the industry,” says Szuch. “We want the artists we work with to feel like they have a team behind them.”
One of the label’s most successful releases to date is The Wild Reeds’ 2017 album “The World We Built.” The album was lauded by critics and helped raise the band’s profile significantly. “That album really put us on the map,” says Kinsey Lee, one of the band’s vocalists. “Rock Paper Scissors Records has been an amazing partner for us. They truly believe in what we’re doing and have been instrumental in helping us get to where we are today.”
For Szuch, the success of artists like The Wild Reeds is what makes his work worthwhile. “When I see an artist go from playing small gigs to headlining tours and festivals, that’s incredibly rewarding,” he says. “I’m just happy to be able to play a part in helping these artists achieve their dreams.”
Looking ahead, Szuch says the goal for RPS is simply to continue promoting great music. “There’s so much talent out there. Our job is to help it get heard.”
In an industry where fame and fortune often take precedence over artistic merit, Rock Paper Scissors Records is a breath of fresh air. By putting the focus on emerging artists and their music, this little label is making a big impact. And for musicians struggling to find their place in the industry, that impact is nothing short of invaluable.