I founded GemTone Records in 1998 to record and release jazz and blues people I was gigging with.
I had already recorded and produced a CD of my own music called 12 Bars All Night with my good friend Don DeWitt at his home studio, Abaca. We were both learning our respective roles as we went along.
At the time I was playing in the horn section with my brother, Tony Matoian, in Len Rainey and the Midnight Players. It seemed logical to produce a CD for Len. We recorded “I Better Move On” and manufactured 1000 CDs.
The next step was distribution. We started by going to the local stores and putting the discs in on consignment. One person at Wherehouse (RIP) Records was generous enough to send me a list of all the distributors. I sent packages to all of them with a disc, sell sheet, etc. Finally City Hall showed some interest and I signed a distribution agreement with them. The agreement was basically a consignment but gave us more creditability when approaching radio stations. Probably the biggest outlet was Tower (RIP) Records.
Focusing on jazz and blues and people I knew, the next release was my own, “Straight Ahead”.
Followed by The Deacons featuring Ken Schoppmeyer “Straight Up,” all recorded, mixed and mastered by Don at Abaca. The Deacons Broke up shortly after the recording, but it was well recieved and I am glad we recorded it in light of the untimely passing of Ken.
I branched out a little and signed a deal with Edmund Velasco. His recordings were mixed and mastered at Abaca and yielded “The Blues in Me.”
Due to a lack of sales and activity, closely followed by the demise of record stores like Tower and the rest, City Hall cancelled our agreement. We produced one more CD for Edmund called “Smoke Rises” which was never released.
After a hiatus of a few years, I returned to recording in my home studio. My interests had branched out a little bit to include rock, electronica and other types of music. The music industry had changed dramatically and actually turned into the cottage industry I had always wanted. I signed up for CDBaby using that aggregator platform. My first release was a collaboration of songs with David Keeler and some originals called “No Easy Road.” I followed by releasing a song a month for 2 years. I have slowed down recently due to time constraints.