Like most people, growing up there was always something embarrassing a parent would do through the eyes of a child. For my brother and I, it was being dropped off at school by our mom with Aretha Franklin and Barry White blasting as we got out of the car. Our mom never backed down, and with each complaint we gave, the music only got louder. It wasn’t until we got much older that we started to appreciate her music choice and came to recognize the importance of storytelling and how it contributes to a song’s success and longevity across generations.
Today, as we listen to some of the most successful and sampled songs, we find ourselves reflecting on the lessons we learned in our mother’s car and the impact it had on us. It has become increasingly clear that storytelling is a crucial element in creating music that resonates with audiences of all ages.
Fast forward to Milan and I in college, we realized that the storytelling in the music we grew up with was missing in a lot of the R&B and Hip Hop of our generation. So, we founded Guin Records: to discover and develop artists who embody that same storytelling spirit and use music as a vehicle to positively impact culture and society. The name “Guin” was inspired by a nickname Milan, myself and our cousins had when we were kids playing Club Penguin. When it came time for us to choose a name for our label, we thought “Guin” was the perfect choice as it always symbolized family and community. Moreover, penguins are known for always sticking together, even in the toughest of conditions, embodying the spirit of team-work and collaboration we strive to foster at Guin Records.
After attempting to navigate the music industry as a brother-sister duo, taking on roles including A&R, Sound Engineer, and Business Manager, we brought on Michael Bearden as the company’s first advisor. The humblest intro we can give to Michael is his own iconic line “You know Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You?’ That’s me on the keys.” Michael is an accomplished musical director and producer known for his collaborations with icons such as Madonna and Michael Jackson. With his guidance, we were able to prioritize an artist-first approach alongside musical storytelling, which helped us find our niche as “the artist friendly label”. We assembled a diverse team of industry veterans who are united by a common goal to support independent artists in achieving success and making a lasting impact on the music industry.
Being artist-friendly to Guin means that we prioritize the needs and well-being of our artists above all else. This includes offering fair and equitable 50/50 net royalty splits, giving our artists the ownership and control of their own masters, and providing non-recoupable wellness stipends to support mental and physical wellbeing. Additionally, we limit our signings to just five at a time to guarantee that each artist receives the best possible support and attention; something unheard of in an industry of labels notorious for signing more artists they can handle, resulting in lifetime deals that leave artists feeling trapped and helpless. This approach helps ensure that our artists are able to create and share their music in a sustainable and healthy way.
Over the past four years Guin has been dedicated to developing a diverse range of genre-bending artists, including those in Hip Hop, Electric Pop, Melodic Rap, and Alternative R&B. We are not limited by genre, but instead are driven by our goal to uncover artists who are capable of shifting culture and create music that connects with people on a deeper level and inspires them to think differently about the world around them. We believe this is the kind of music that truly resonates with people and has the power to create change.
As we celebrate our fifth anniversary at Guin Records, we are proud of the progress we have made in shaping the music industry by putting our artists first and bringing storytelling back to music. In the coming year, we remain committed to discovering and developing a diverse range of artists across different tiers, and exploring new ways to collaborate with wellness organizations to provide the best holistic support for our artists. We look forward to continuing to push the boundaries of what it means to be an artist-friendly label and to make a lasting impact on the music industry. Join us as we strive to create a future where independent artists are celebrated, supported, and empowered to make a difference through their music.