One man installs a recording studio in a house or a storefront, starts an independent record label, signs a roster of artists, and boom, a music factory is born. It's the stuff that fills whole display cases in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Berry Gordy with Motown Records in Detroit. Sam Philips with Sun Records in Memphis. Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton with Stax Records, also in Memphis. With minor variations, you could be telling the story of Chess or Atlantic or A&M Records--any number of labels that came, saw, conquered and was eventually gobbled up by a conglomerate looking to diversify its investment portfolio.
When you first hear about Fervor Records, a label founded by Dave Hilker that has its recording studios in two suburban houses in Sunnyslope, AZ, your mindset drifts to that simpler time when a record company could conquer the world through its old business model, consumer music sales.
"The unique thing about Fervor Records," Hilker says, grinning, "is that we don't make our money selling records. We make our money licensing music. Our artists make more on performance royalties than they would selling CDs."