MDM Recordings The Little Label That Could
Submitted by Don Graham
Mike Denny’s “I think I can, I think I can“ went from “ I know I can,I know I can ” to “I knew I could, I knew I could” in a span of 7 years. That’s how long MDM Recordings has been in existence and it is slowly but oh so surely becoming one of the most respected country record labels in the country. With an impressive roster that includes Chad Brownlee, Jess Moskaluke, Bobby Wills,Tim Chaission, David James, The Lovelocks, Charlie Major and Hayley, MDM is a now a big deal.
In Mike’s words ““My mission is to support, help nurture and grow the careers of the artists that I work with on a day to day basis. I want to help them achieve their goals and dreams, while achieving mine with them.” And he adds, ““I have always been very driven to succeed. Years ago it was material things, now, it’s a passion for what I do.”
What he looks for in new artists is simple, “I want to represent talent that can really play and perform from their core, their true soul,” he continues, “To me this is the true definition of “talent”.”
Before Mike started MDM he was earning his stripes and learning the ins and outs of the music business at every level. When asked about life prior to MDM Mike said “The last job I had outside of running MDM was Director of Sales and Marketing for English Canada for Fusion 3 Distribution. I had held previous National Manager positions at Sony Music Canada and Universal Music Canada prior to that. I incorporated the company in the spring of 2008 as a means to try and re-jig my compensation package with Fusion as catalogue CD sales were coming to a grinding halt. That plan obviously didn’t work out and I ventured to the CCMA Awards that year in Winnipeg, came home with a roster of 5 artists and from there we started!”
The formation of a new label can be a frightening and daunting adventure. Did Mike have a moment in time when he knew it was time to pull the trigger on starting up? “I was totally unsure what I was doing in the early days and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to run a label. I was actually just trying to stay busy and out there hoping that the next gig would come along, but it was the height of the recession and there wasn’t any jobs in any industry. I used me severance package and a year of unemployment cheques to build it and get it off the ground. Things really started to happen, when I received a phone call from Mitch Merrett, who had demos of a hockey player turned musician by the name of Chad Brownlee.“
The MDM roster is handpicked and their affinity for recording hit songs is uncanny and when asked how this was achieved Mike says “The A and R functions are split between myself and now business partner Mitch Merrett. Mitch is everything I am not, he plays, tours, produces while my strong suit is on sales, marketing, advertising and promotion. When we listen to music coming in for consideration I listen as a fan. MDM is based on passion first and foremost, we may not be the fastest at breaking new acts, but we do have a plan that we stick too and it has worked very well for us. What we are doing has been called the new old school to developing talent.”
Do Mike and MDM see a shift from the bro country redundancy of the last five years to better quality material? “That’s a very good question. Personally the Bro country thing doesn’t work for me, but the fans are really buying into it. I would like to see it move a little bit back to more traditional sounds, but at the end of the day as a label you can't chase the flavour of the week, all you can do is find the best talent, the best songs and construct a solid launch plan to get the music out there.” Well said.
With twenty five years in the business Mike Denney has learned from some of the best. Who was his best mentor and the one he learned the most from? “I have had numerous people who have helped me, guided me and directed me on this journey. My biggest mentor is a fellow by the name of Don Oates, who was senior V.P. of sales at Sony. When I worked for him back in the day at Sony Music, I learned so much from him on how to treat people and he had this uncanny way of turning any negative situation into a positive. I always marveled at how he was able to do that, but it stuck with me. My father was a Sales Manager as well, and also very good at dealing with people. I learn the most now from watching what others are doing in the business and adapting to the ever changing business climate out there. "
The year 2015 has so far been an outstanding year for MDM Recordings and its artists, racking up a total of 16 CCMA nominations in 15 categories. Jess Moskaluke, the current CCMA Female Artist of the Year, picks up where she left off with 2015 CCMA Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Single of the Year nominations.
Says Mike, "I am extremely proud of our artists and support staff today. I try to instill in our people the idea that passion, hard work, and treating people with respect is better than any award or nomination, but it is really nice to have our industry peers recognize our roster and support staff. Congrats to all of the nominees!"
The full list of 2015 CCMA Nominations for MDM Recordings is FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR.Jess Moskaluke, ALBUM OF THE YEAR, Light Up The Night- Jess MoskalukeSINGLE OF THE YEAR "Cheap Wine and Cigarettes" - Jess Moskaluke, SONGWRITER(S) OF THE YEAR Never Didn't Love You, written by: Walt Aldridge, Michael Pyle, Bobby Wills and performed By: Bobby Wills , ROOTS ARTIST OF THE YEAR Tim Chaisson and The Lovelocks.
Looking forward, when asked about his company’s future success, Mike said, “I hope to see my company being a more established entity within the Country music scene. I would like to get the company to a point where it is branded as a quality label, and people know right away that the artists are special just by being associated with us at MDM Recordings Inc.”
The record industry needs more Mike Denneys and more MDM Recordings but until that day we should all be grateful that at least we have the ones we have.
Keep your eyes and ears open for this little label that grew and in a world of shrinking sales and tough markets MDM has stayed the course and is destined to continue it's growth, Well done boys, take a bow.