Why the hell would anyone want to start a label? Why would they want to spend their every waking hour wondering whether Spangle Sparklytrousers fanzine was into their latest three chord thrash wonderteens? or whether the boss will notice them running off another 10000 flyers on the photocopier? or if the NME will slag them off in an even vaguely amusing way this week? or if they can squeeze another box of unsold records ("ahead of their time, mate") into the *ahem* back catalogue stored under their bed? Can they go without food three days this week to get a bit more studio time for their latest proteges? Will hiring the Camden Falcon on the same Monday night as the UEFA cup final turn out to be a financial disaster? Can they stomach another trip to the post office to send this record to another 20 journos who'll claim it's shit now but love it in 3 years when the band's huge on Sony?
All will be revealed as we speak to the people behind labels ranging from the might of Beggar's Banquet, through the credibility of Che, the anti-music biz of Org and the fledgling tape-only labels Crash the Luau and Best Kept Secret. The same four questions were put to everybody:
why did you decide to set up a label?
If you run a label and want to answer the questions yourself, feel free to email your answers to me firstname.lastname@example.org cos this feature is intended to grow over time.
Gianni, SHADO Via Potente 9, 50019 - Sesto Fiorentino, Firenze, Italy email@example.com
1. To release the music of our personal band VALVOLA. SHADO Records using its own recording studio (the Alpha Earthbase), an equipe of designers, its own mail order, represents an intermediate chance between the millionary productions of the false underground and the quick approximation of the indie bands. This way the label succeds in producing with very low budgets extremely styled records. Today SHADO seeks and promotes bands and situations that may be able to conjugate sixties sounds along with futurologic suggestions.
2. SHADO Rec. privileges music with archaic and analogic machines - the choice for warm, imperfect and human sounds. We are a pop label, in the extended meaning that the word "pop" held during the sixties, when a song could be popular and experimental at the same time.
3. Armando Sciascia "Impressions in rhythm & sounds" (italian '70 authors).
4. Do not surrender immediately, and shout that exist the smallest too!
Nigel, Shagrat 23 Highcliff Drive, Leigh on Sea, Essex, SS9 1DQ
1. I started Shagrat in 1990 out of frustration. I'm a big fan of late 60s British psychedelia and the acid avant garde, a major fan of the Took-era Tyrannosaurus Rex and a firm believer that, try as the Bolan camp always did to discredit him, Took was talented (not like the conga player they co-opted after Bolan booted Steve out). I knew Larry Wallis had these demos that had been made in 70/71 when he and Took had this band/concept called Shagrat and since 1990 was the 10th anniversary of Steve's death, really wanted to commemorate in some small way, hence the "Amanda" 45. Shagrat is dedicated to the British underground of 1966-73 and features either archive recordings from then or new recordings by the long-haired reprobates who made my fucked-up youth easier to endure.
2. Don't have a favourite release.
3. Dream release might be for Pete Illingworth to finally unearth the 1969 2-song acetate his band Purple Haze cut and release it with the sleeve Pete designed for it; alternatively to do lavish package (like that Electric Prunes live in Stockholm album that came out in 97) for Purple Haze live at the Harris Tech in Preston 68 (if Harold Dearden can find the tape!) Or most of all put out Greasy Bear's 1970 unreleased album "Is Adrian There?" with a Gil Shelton or Bob Crumb sleeve!!!
4. Tips for people starting labels? Easy!! (a) have unlimited funds and total belief in what you're doing. (b) get an accountant and a lawyer on board from the start (c) always remember that most musicians are total idiots who don't even have a proper perspective about their own music---most of em don't have a fucking clue about anything! Only joking!!!
Dmitri, Sharapov Sound System PO Box 30, St Petersburg-9, 195009, RUSSIA firstname.lastname@example.org
1. There is very little good (both musically and politically) punk/hc music here in Russia. I feel the need to do something about it. To change to situation you gotta participate in it, right?
2. The PTVP tape. The music sounds good (though pretty raw as well), and I like the layout I did for them.
3. 33-letnij Podonok LP, it's a legendary hardcore band from Riga / Latvia, I personally consider them to be the best Russian-language band. They split in 1995, some of their songs were on a split 7" with Vonosonoloppus (Darbouka Recs.) but they have some more material which is either unavailable at all or only on cassettes. And also I'd love to have a possibility to find a political crust/grind band here in Russia that doesn't have any religious links (so far I failed).
4. CDs don't play on my CD player so don't put them out. Vinyls are expensive to post and you cannot fit that much music anyway. Tapes are cooler - lots of music, cheap, and you can make whatever big booklets to get the ideas through.
1. To show everybody else how to do it properly.
2. "Saropoly". (SARAH 50, the fiftieth release on Sarah Records - a board-game, and the purest distillation of the spirit of pop imaginable. It even came with a free dice.)
3. Geri Halliwell's incendiary cover of Huggy Bear's "Her Jazz" - girl power indeed. Political pop just doesn't get any better than this.
4. Most pressing-plants will drill the centre-holes in 7"s for you free of charge if you ask nicely - you don't have to punch them all out individually yourself with a bradawl and hammer.
Francis Macdonald, Shoeshine PO Box 15193, Glasgow,G2 6LB email@example.com
1. I decided to set up Shoeshine to provide an outlet for some music that wasn't going to be put out by anyone else---Radio Sweethearts and Speedboat. Also, I was playing music part-time and wanted to fill up the rest of my time doing something I thought would be worthwhile.
2. Probably "Shoeshine Chartbusters". It pulled the first few singles together with a bunch of extra tracks and represented a kind of milestone. I love all the track on there although the mix is quite varied. I am particularly proud to have release a live Alex Chilton "mini" set on there too.
3. Bob Dylan, Jonthan Richman. It wouldn't matter what song they were performing.
4. Err on the side of caution re. press coverage, radio play and sales. Be prepared for some disappointments....try and push out a few releases in a fairly short period of time to get some momentum and to bring in some cash...try and keep recording costs down: manufacturing and promotion costs will eat quickly into any budget...7" vinyl is cool but CD albums are much more profitable, allowing you to keep the ball rolling...try and keep some quality control: if something doesn't even excite you very much what makes you think anyone else should want to part with their cash for it?
1. While I was at university I met Emily and we discussed doing a serious record label together. She knew a band called the Chemistry Experiment who were bloody GRATE and so we decided to release a single with them. It's all gone from there.
2. Translucent Waveform started as hype really. Not in a crap, Gay Dad way though. We proclaimed ourselves to be genius but because of having to do university in different places we never got anything recorded. By the time I started recording stuff on my own about a year ago people were a bit sick of it all. While not strictly speaking a release, it was a bit of a vindication. People said 'yes, you are a genius'. It was an amazing coincidence. I'd always said it but never really meant it - which was the whole point really.
Did that make any sense? The one I think I'll be most pleased with is the one that should be next...see next question for details.
3. Well, soon we should be organising a compilation CD. Hopefully we'll get all the bands we want to (about 20) on one CD and sell it for about L2.50 inc P&P. That's about cost price I think...if it comes off then it'll spawn a load of EPs or LPs. I don't know how closely you've read our website (it's all being vastly updated as we speak) but we're totally non-profit. We don't make L1000, we don't even make 10p. It's a big for-the-kidz thing. It's all about amazing bands for as little money as possible.
I suppose that really getting into the realms of fantasy my dream release would be...I don't know actually. But it would be free and it'd get launched by a fucking huge all day gig. Also free.
4. Um, well crap demos make a cheap, plentiful supply of blank tapes. A website will do you no end of good, maybe. No matter how DIY you are a professional approach always helps.
Be nice to fanzines and the mainstream press...try and think of a slightly new way of doing things etc.
Oh yes, only do stuff with really REALLY good bands. But if you try and pinch any of mine then I'll have your legs broken ;)
1. There were too many amazing bands with my friends in them, without anyone wanting to put time and money into them - so i went for it.
2.To tell you the truth - I have been amazed with all my releases. We make every release special and totally amazing.
3. full length releases by ENGAGE and ABJURE
4. Love the music to the botton of your heart and quit your day job cause then you can go on tour with your bands all the time.
1. Slampt is not really a record label as such - more of a multi-media punk rock arts collective run on anarcho-syndicalist fuel with a music-orientated bias. We started doing fanzines and tapes and gigs and events, and then went on to do records and CD's and video fanzines and art exhibitions and stuff, because we can't afford to pay a TV license, so we have to find other ways to entertain ourselves.
2. I thought the "Lone Rangers" V/A compilation cassette we did back in '95 was really cool - loads of different creative people we knew from the Tyneside/Wearside punk rock/art scene doing solo experiments/music using 4 track machines. It cost L2 inc p+p, and we sold 150 copies. I am still bitter that i t was our worst-selling cassette ever, because I thought it was fantastic, but I'm sure the people who bought it dug it. Overall, I've been really pleased with pretty much everything which the label has ever been involved in, although our experiences with failed-rockstars KENICKIE left a bitter taste in the mouth, and is the only band we have ever ended up on bad terms with.
3. We are living our dreams through Slampt, that is the whole point. If we wanted to be releasing music other than what we are already releasing, then we would do so. Don't you like the music which comes from Slampt?
4. Release something interesting, for fuck's sake! I am consistently amazed by the blandness of the bands released by people who "kind've fancied doing my own record label, like". Fuck that, go into a practice room with 1 or 2 or 3 or 6 friends and fuck bloody pulp out of each other and then record it onto a 4 track machine and release it as a cassette-only release (unlimited edition, obviously). Oh, and fuck money too - you don't need it, what you actually need to do a DIY label is anger, love, hate and obviously energy. Don't worry about money, all you have to do is release something good, and thus people feel compelled to send you money for it, and therefore money is not a problem. And if anyone thinks that comment must indicate that I have so much money that I don't have to worry about money, come 'round my house and you'll see that I live off 75 pence a fortnight, and I live in peace.
1. Because there were a lot of great bands, that deserved to get their stuff out, and I also thought that Norway needed a label like this. 2. Because I can`t play any instruments.
2. My favorite release on Smalltown Supersound is Epikurs Euforie`s "Side A Side B" 10".
3. Anything with Sonic Youth, cause their doing both perfect pop and brilliant experimental stuff.
4. Running a label means losing money. Do it DIY, or else you`re losing even more money.
1. Presumably the same reason as everyone else who does it- a love of music and of records themselves which goes all the way back to the age of 2. And I thought it would be fun and a good way of becoming a multi millionaire.
2. All of them have something special about them otherwise they wouldn't have got released, and it's always nice to make each release different in some way- eg with Brain Cakes we got bored with doing 4 track eps so seeing as it was our tenth single we made it a ten track ep. Everyone always says they're proudest of their latest release, so i'd probably have to say The Kittiwakes debut single which is out on March 1 and is great- also i haven't heard it often enough to get sick of it yet which normally happens with most releases.
3. Apart from getting The Beatles to reform with a resurrected John Lennon, which I admit is a bit unlikely, the one band i've always wanted to release something by is Alternative TV and it's actually happening ! They're doing a gig for us in Leicester on March 8 and while i was getting that organised Mark Perry asked if i fancied releasing a single by them 'cos his current label does'nt do 7" singles and he misses them. So it's going to be a remix of "Unlikely Star" from their last album "Punk life" with a newly recorded B side, which will hopefully be 2 tracks.
4. Keep at it- when we released our first single nothing happened and nobody was interested so it would have been very easy to give up then but we persevered and with every new release we built up more contacts and had more interest. Also get a well paid job to pay for it.
Paul, Spanking Herman firstname.lastname@example.org PO Box 2927, Brighton, Sussex, BN1 3SX
1. It seemed really fun, and there was this period in Brighton, where everybody I was surrounded by started putting records out. For some reason (probably the same as mine). Anyway, I'd been doing a tape label and a fanzine for a couple of years previously, and it seemed that running a record label couldn't be that much harder, despite all the mystification surrounding it. It's actually a lot less hassle than putting tapes out, and more gratifying than doing a zine, I think. It was easy to start up because there was a handful of bands in Brighton that I really wanted to support, so out came the debut 7" EP, called 'Adopt This Baby'. I actually wrote on the sleevenotes that (fingers-crossed), it wouldn't be the first and only release, which some people thought was a bit negative, but there you go. Anyway, two years down the line, there's been eight releases and no sign of demise. Which is more than I expected.
2. Probably 'Adopt This Baby', becuase the excitement of it all was pretty amazing - anally retentive things like looking at the grooves on the records and thinking "oh look it's the Turbocat guitar solo" really appeal to me, which I reckon speaks volumes about my character. For some reason I also have fond memories of sticking bits of paper on the sleeves, which is odd because I'm sure I was bored fuckless at the time. So there's that. I also really like the 'Theta - Isolation' 7", though that was a real disaster, sales-wise. I like all the releases to varying degrees, but 'Adopt This Baby' is the special one. You know, first time and all that.
3. Well, excitingly, the dream release looks like it could actually happen. It might be a split with psychadelic label Garden Of Delights, if I can get hold of Andrea (who does it). About three years ago, Patrik Fitzgerald, who had countless records out on Rough Trade and Red Flame between 1977 and 1994, gave me an unreleased album of new material on cassette. It's actually the only copy in existance, so on one hand it seems unfair to sit on it, and on the other it would be like completing a personal circle to give something back to someone who was such an inspiration, and probably instrumental in getting me into punk and DIY and what-have-you in the first place. And he's still magic.
4. Do it. Don't blather forever in a British-never get round to it stylee. It's really empowering to see reviews of your own releases in magazines you've been reading since you were able to. Take things really slowly - and above all make sure you're a trading whore. I am, and it's good to know that when somethings released, about 150 copies of it already have homes. Other labels, distros and touring bands - they're all usually up for swapping piles of their stuff with you. All you have to do is ask. Cultivate a mailing list, and be nice to people who buy your wares. I have this kind of anti-zine review policy, which is probably a bit unfair (and I don't necessarily recommend it). Basically I don't really send anything to zines to review, because often a two line review eight months later is kind of useless. And I've only ever sold one record through a review in a zine (back when I used to send review stuff out). I do support zines in other ways, but, being a flaky (ex) zine writer myself, I know how flaky other zine writers can be.
1. Frustration and "freedom of artistic expression". Plus I like to hold something plastic in my hand that _I_ made. A love of electronic music.
2. Usually, the latest one. But hightlights of _my own_ recordings: Media Form's "beauty reports", radial blend's "abandon time". On our label: the Chinese Whispers project - although it nearlly killed me doing it.
3. At the moment, anything by Mouse On Mars or Pole or Bernd Freidmann.
4. Dont expect to make money, and do it because you love music. Always keep your day job. Buy other peoples records. Got out and listen. Don't be _put off_ by the mainstream.
Geert-Jan Hobijn, Staalplaat Box 54 02 05, 10042 Berlin, Germany www.staalplaat.com
1. no reason in particular, we did not start a label, we were a specialized audio cassette store in Amsterdam and when you copy one tape and sell it you have a label, why do you copy a tape?? well, all of you out there have done this, so all of you know the answer to this question.
2. the last one.
3. I don't know, the strange thing is I always can't seem to remember when I wake up.
4. just do it, it is simple.
1. Intially to release a split 7-inch featuring our band, twelve24, and our good friends, Show Pony. It turned out to be very successful - relatively speaking - so we kept going. I'd also become somewhat obsessed with the movement of small bedroom/lounge room labels all over the world that I had discovered through the internet.
2. Each of our releases has been special in one way or another but I guess the Dearhunters/Hired Guns split was good because The Hired Guns were the first band to actually approach us in the hope we could release something.
3. This is hard. Definately vinyl!!! Maybe Pavement's Trigger Cut? Pixies' Debaser? Anything from the Dirty Three, Low, Bluebottle Kiss or Gaslight Radio would be fantastic...
4. If you want to start a label, save a bit of cash, approach a band or two and put out a record! It may need a bit of organisation but it isn't really that hard. However, our advice is to budget a little more money - don't get too obsessed with saving every dollar if you're not completely happy with the end product and secondly, budget a little extra time to get everything finished!!! A special tip for getting vinyl done - make sure you get test pressings and don't be afraid to tell the pressing plant if you're not happy - they're usually happy to help out and fix the problem. Finally, support the people who support you - take out advertising in zines, trade with other labels and go to the trouble of personalising packages you send out to mailorder customers.
1. Underwood and I decided to set up the label in 1995 because we wanted an umbrella under which we could promote his music. We'd been best friends since school days and Underwood had spent many years producing music which never failed to astonish me, I felt that the world really deserved to hear some of it. We decided to produce our first release, "Transmission One", a kind of "best of" from the mass of tracks he had recorded over the previous few years. In many ways the CD came before even thinking about starting a label. The idea for the label came when we felt it would be handy to seem more "real" than we were,the whole concept was very alien to us and we didn't have a clue how to go about actually getting a CD together. Another reason for forming a label was that we had grown increasingly frustrated relying upon other people---we just hated waiting around months on end for a few empty promises. We saw forming our own label as a positive statement, it was a question of faith in Underwood's music. We believed that we could actually do things better than the people already in the industry.
2. Oh, that's a hard one. The thing I love about our label is that we are not interested in vibe and our releases range from chirpy pop to awful noise. I suppose the first release "Transmission One" gave us the biggest thrill, however, Dynamo Beat's "Fait Accompli" album is probably the one that I consider the most complete. It has quite an emotional attachment for me, I also did the cover artwork which looks wonderful. People should just buy it for the cover!! The Spray album was also special because it was done totally on a trust basis with some people that, at the time, we'd never even physically met.
3. I love so many types of music that this question is very hard to answer. The one song that springs to mind is called "In The City" which was originally done by Underwood's first band Graphix in 1983. I actually wrote the lyrics for it and Underwood turned it into a track which makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck everytime I hear it. Underwood has recently re-recorded the track under his God/Monster guise and we hope to release it soon. Alternatively my dream release would be Elvis Presley covering "Champagne Supernova".
4. The best tip that I can offer is that you should decide whether you want to sell or promote releases as a priority. We are incredibly bad at the selling bit and it has taken us a while to realise that we're more interested in getting promotion. If you want to sell copies then you should work out beforehand how you're going to do it effectively. Oh yeah, make sure you join the PPL and PRS so that you get paid for any radio plays etc.
1. Total control. No bullshit for my own band and the bands we work with. The money is much better for the band and the people that are working the project, no fat cat label leaches sucking their 60K a year for nothing!
2. WOLFPAC- Somthin Wicked This Way Comes
3. So many! A Judge Tribute CD, or the next Gravediggaz CD...
4. Batten down the hatches cause its alot of work! But if you love what you do...you have never labored a day in your life!
Mike, Suisonic Suisonrec@aol.com 15 Orchard Lane Staten Island, NY 10312 or A&R (dark music) 1245 W. Guadalupe Rd, Suite B6-290, Mesa, AZ 85202, USA
1. To try and gain exposure for some great bands at least ones that I feel are great and deserve a chance to have their work out in the market
2. Well, the Electro/Industrial Anarchy compilation will be our first and hopefully there will be more in the future
3. My dream release right now would be Battery Cage. They used to be signed to SINless Records but since the label went under they are currently looking for a label. If the compilation does well I hope to sign these guys.
4. Well, a label is hard to handle on your own so my tip would be to find a person(s) who are interested in the same music and get together with them and exchange ideas. Two heads are better then one so the more brains working together for the greater good of the label only works in your favor.
1. As both a recording artist and a consumer of music in the form of magazines, records and cds, the most important link in the chain of communication is the distribution of materials. I know myself how frustrating it can be reading or hearing about a record and the almost ceaseless task of struggling to locate that very object of desire. Well for me Sulphur should remove that detail and lead invitingly in the record industry to music that is outside of the traditional electronic sphere that I have been historically associated with.
2. as we have only released one double album so far i have to say this one! Future Pilot Versus a Galaxy of Sound double CD/LP, starring the likes of Alan Vega/Suicide, Brix Smith of the Fall, Cornershop and Andrew Weatherall amongst many other super names.
3. i have many dreams of what i would like to release but without naming names i would always be happy to release materials that genuinely surprise and pleasure people. the forthcoming releases i feel reflect that - whether they be my own new studio album Lauwarm Instrumentals on July 5th, or Japanese pop music, New York orchestral work or the sound of my radiator humming...
4. dont't believe for a minute that you will be rich, drive around in flashy cars wearing tacky jewellery and reap the benefits of pop stardom. instead get up early in the morning, make your lunch, and work all day and until the lights go out and then go home and sleep ready for the next day.
Jason, Super Volcano 21 Ventnor Road, Liverpool, L15 4JF SUPER.VOLCANO@cableinet.co.uk
1. (a)Because the SUN told me to (b)As an exercise in creating something involving infiltration of commercial, industrial "mass"-production systems (c)To help certain people get the recognition I felt they deserved
2. We have only had one release as a record label so far...so it'll have to be that one....but the next one should be even better.
3. dream release:- Psychomania soundtrack and tribute (featuring a book with pics of tom, abby, hinkey and the whole darn gang)
4. Same as anything.....Know what you are, where you are, what you are doing and why you are doing it and then do what needs doing
Mike, Surreal Recordings email@example.com phone: (01689) 859908
1. I loved the music, the scene and as a DJ and producer i had a keen interest in what was going on. I also had access to tunes made by myself and friends which i thought deserved to be heard (plus i also inherited a L1,000 which enabled me to get started).
2. I been 100% behind all the tunes i've released, however our most recent release has attracted the most interest so far. Sureal 008 Soggy Plop - Hairy Scarey was recently reviewed in Mixmag Update and was awarded 5 dancing men (yipee!!).
3. My label specialises in Tech-house and as a we've already released ep's by some of the leaders for this genre of house/techno my dream release would have to be for Terry Francis / Pure Science remixes of something i've written and produced.
4. Enthusiasm and a love of the music/scene is essential. If you're keen enough and want to succeed badly enough it may just be enough to see you through all the difficult times and help you deal with all the set backs and problems you are sure to encounter.
1. We kind of fell into it. Originally we wanted to be a production house but we found a licensee for Malka's first album (Rosh Balata WM1) and decided to try to release it for the rest of the world. It worked and we even sold some! After that one thing led to another and we found ourselves with artists, distribution, licensees, all the trappings. As artists ourselves we see our primary function as being able to recognise and develop talent. Most of what we've released has somehow come through our own studio so it keeps the costs down plus we also release our own stuff.
2. There have been so many and all for different reasons. We don't release anything unless we believe in it 110%. We also try not to release things which are too similar to each other. So I'd say Lobe for sheer original genius, Ronnie & Clyde for outsussing all the breakbeat mafia, Silo for being able to "rock" & "concept", do-lop for producing some of the most loose limbed, fattest beats ever, g-man for taking a simple idea and inventing a genre with it, and Malka and myself for being too damn sneaky to pin down!!
3. The ideal swim release combines attitude, sheer unadulterated talent and enough accessibilty for the world to be able to grab on to it. We are deluded enough to imagine that it actually matters what the record sounds like rather than how much promo/marketing budget gets spent!!
4. There's precious little money in independant music so the best appraoch is to work with what you recognise is good and believe in it. The world is full of chancers big and small trying to hawk the next Oasis/All Saints/Goldie occasionaly they succeed but mainly they don't. Genre music mainly sucks, unless you are in a genre & live it don't try to jump on the back of one because you're almost bound to be too late. There's a lot of practical stuff but everyone has their own way of dealing with it. In the final analysis, you have to be prepared to take a loss on most releases (you might think you made a profit but you expended hours and hours of your own unpaid time getting there), it's a bitter pill to swallow but it's easier to do it if you love what you release. If you don't, there are much safer ways of making money!!!
Simon, Swine 1,Oakleigh Rd, Bexhill-on-sea, East Sussex, TN39 4PY firstname.lastname@example.org
1. I started a label to be independent of others in this line you can't trust people an inch, also being a working musician myself and having been in lots of different bands the one person I could see making money was the record label.
2. its one from CRZ 6, its called "escape artist".
3. To answer that I would have to have two releases the first would be something like "any thing I do" or any of that crap that has made a shit load of money out of a film. The second would have to be The walrus , I can not list all the reasons for that choose I bet you only wanted short answers!
4. run some ads first to see what response you get from your local punters. For your studio don't buy a tape machine, adat or dat .YOU CAN NOT GO WRONG WHEN RECORDING WITH COMPUTERS (provided you use apple mac and a good application like Logic. don't listen to the old bastards telling you that tape has a warmer deeper quality its crap, its only because they don't want to learn how to work a computer. Go on as many courses as you can, it doesn't matter what it is as long as its about the music business, your are better off knowing every ones job so you can keep an eye out for any body ripping you off. Lastly be prepared to take on the most stressful job and earn no money for years. always expect to be waiting for people to turn up (the more successful the later they will be ).
I hope this doesn't put to many off incidentally Swine is now running 5 day crash courses for people wanting to learn Recording with computers we specialize in Logic Audio and waves applications.
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