Geoff Kulawick’s first job in the music industry was as office grunt in 1980 for the newly formed Solid Gold Records. Thirty two years later he owns the company!
Kulawick, president of Linus Entertainment, has just added Solid Gold Records to his company’s catalogue, having previously obtained another top Canadian indie label; True North Records to his roster in 2007.
“I am always on the lookout to strengthen my catalogue and Solid Gold represents a period that sparked the heyday of Canadian music,” explained Kulawick. “We’re talking about the 1980’s when Canadian rock was at its prime and Solid Gold was racking up gold and platinum records with Chilliwack, The Headpins and Toronto.
Steve Propas and Neil Dixon launched Solid Gold Records in 1980 and enjoyed unprecedented success when the debut albums of Chilliwack ( Wanna Be A Star), The Headpins (Turn It Loud) and Toronto (Lookin For Trouble) all chalked up platinum sales (in advance of 100,000 units). The label also released records by Pukka Orchestra and Gary O as well as licensing foreign releases by the likes of Girl School and Mama’s Boys.
“Those licenses have all lapsed,” noted Kulawick. “But my prime concern is to remarket the key Canadian releases. This may involve remastering and repackaging the titles.”
Although the current climate isn’t exactly conducive to record companies, Kulawick feels a frugal, business-like approach can still be profitable for an indie label. “You have to eliminate all the limos and the expensive launch parties but if you run a smart business with smart A&R, this industry can still be profitable.”
Kulawick is aware that current AOR radio is anchored in regurgitating past hits, but he doesn’t blame key stations from taking that position. “Current AOR stations are all about selling automobiles, and not about selling new records. From a business point of view, I can’t blame them. There is nowhere for classic rock bands with new product to go but that’s a reality. They just have to be more creative and use tools like the internet to get the word out.”
The original Sold Gold went bankrupt in 1985 after overstretching their finances with an ill-advised U.S expansion. CBS Records took over distribution but then Propas and lawyer Ed Glinert regained possession of the label with distribution being handled by Universal. Ironically both would die within months of each other earlier this year leaving the catalogue open for Kulawick to obtain.
Expect a systematic release of key Solid Gold releases over the next few months. This circulation will be aided by the fact that, 32 years later, Chilliwack, The Headpins and Holly Woods & Toronto are still operational as live performers.
Kulawick’s Linus label is also still active, signing Alannah Myles (see above pix) to his roster in 2009.