In the world of music, you don’t have to shout to be heard.
Burlington-based FiXT is a record label of internationally renowned artists that has quietly built a global following for 15 years.
FiXT’s music catalog has garnered over 1.75 billion streams online by connecting with a core audience of gamers, sci-fi enthusiasts and comic book fans.
Founded in 2006 by artist / songwriter / producer Klayton, aka Celldweller, and Burlington businessman James Rhodes, the label serves clients in more than 150 countries.
Klayton, for example, has a global fan base, especially in Russia and China.
A FiXT artist calls the company’s product “futuristic funk.”
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History of FiXT
Rhodes, a Circle of Dust fan – another Klayton identity – was hired as Klayton’s first employee for Project Celldweller, taking over the online merchandise store. This meant processing orders online, packaging and shipping merchandise, and providing customer service. This ultimately included managing Klayton’s promotions, marketing, website, and mailing lists.
Klayton’s manager in Los Angeles offered a job in Rhodes and he moved there in 2005 and worked for the music licensing company Position Music. In 2006 Rhodes returned to Iowa and started FiXT with Klayton.
Today Rhodes is Vice President and runs the company.
Klayton and Rhodes decided to model their online business for other artists, with FiXT, a website to sell merchandise of musicians – CDs, T-shirts, posters, stickers, etc. – and it became a music label. Klayton owned the business and Rhodes was the sole employee until 2008, running it online from the smallest bedroom in his Kirkwood Street home in Burlington until 2012.
The name FiXT came from an editing routine from Klayton: when he finished a song file, he labeled it “fixt”.
Fixt is texting a shortcut to “fixed”, something that has been fixed.
By 2012, FiXT had outgrown Rhodes’ house and the business moved; today it is located in a nondescript brick warehouse along the BNSF railroad tracks in downtown Burlington. The 4,400 square foot space is stocked with merchandise from the company’s artists.
Tuesday at noon, FiXT will unveil a YouTube announcement about the company’s rebranding, new signings and more. A teaser is now live on youtube.com/fixtmusic.
“We are announcing some new artists that we are signing, a new label division and some milestones to reach our 15th anniversary,” Rhodes said. “We have a 20 minute video event and people can connect live.”
Go to fixtmusic.com for the video link.
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The Burlington Connection
Rhodes was born in Toledo, Ohio, and he was 3 when the family moved to Burlington, where his father went to work at Champion Sparkplug.
Rhodes did not immerse his feet in the music business as a musician.
“I picked up piano and guitar, but I was never good enough to really venture too far,” he said.
He sang in the Burlington High School Choir for four years. After graduation, he met his wife Rebecca while singing in the choir at Southeastern Community College.
After graduating from SCC, Rhodes attended The Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, Ohio.
“I didn’t use that experience; I ended up on the business side,” Rhodes said. “But the experience I got from going to engineering and recording school has definitely improved my ability, on the label side, to recognize the quality of the production and the quality of the mix when we listen to music. music, and to be able to talk about it with artists. things. “
Rhodes said merchandise sales plummeted during the COVID-19 peak but, being internet-based, FiXT continued to thrive.
“We have employees all over the United States and around the world, with just a core of us here in Burlington and otherwise remote,” he said. “We’ve been like this throughout the life of the company.”
He said FiXT has performed well with streaming services during the pandemic.
“In fact, people were listening to more music during COVID, so we continue to beat our best monthly record for most streams in a month. We have generally seen revenues increase, ”he said.
Employees in Burlington, but also around the world
FiXT has four employees in Burlington and about a dozen others around the world.
“Even before COVID hit, we were very online, remote,” Rhodes said. “We’ve had people in home offices – not just in the United States. We have a guy in Canada. We have a designer we work with in Ukraine. We have a video guy who worked a lot with us in Chile. “
Rhodes has yet to meet any of these people in person.
“But the American team, a lot of us have been together in person,” he said. “We have a guy in Denver, people in LA, there are a few people on the east coast, New Jersey, New Hampshire. We have a girl in Kentucky. So we’re spread out. people in five different time zones. “
Rhodes emphasizes that FiXT is a label, not a recording studio.
“We’re right on the label side: distribution, marketing, PR and getting the music out and pushing it,” he said. “It’s an artist-owned label. Klayton had a bunch of bad recording deals in his career that eventually led him to do it himself. Then we realized we could do it for more. artists. “
There are musicians who also act like businessmen: we think of Zac Brown, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn.
“It’s a balance. We try to let artists be artists and make music, but then we’re the team to surround them and take care of the business, monetize it and market it – and not just to. the pleasure of marketing it, “Rhodes said.” It’s hard to get there
the music industry, to take that great music and promote and market it properly so that you can make a living from it. Our goal is to help artists make music their career, their full-time life. Several of our artists on our list do this. They make their whole living making music, with us as a label. “
Internet is key, Rhodes said. FiXT finds its artists online.
“Over a long period of time, we have developed a reputation through the success of the artists we have worked with, our social networks and our online activity,” he said. “But we also did a lot of artist discoveries, searching for artists on playlists, be it Spotify or YouTube, or fans who suggested to us, ‘Have you watched these bands?’ and discover new tense artists. “
Find musical artists, specialized in genres
FiXT now has 32 artists in two label divisions. FiXT does not have a recording studio in Burlington.
“A lot of our artists have grown up learning to self-produce, whether they’re in a bedroom at home or built a studio,” Rhodes said. “And a lot of our artists have built professional studios – they’ve learned to self-produce, to self-mix. Another part of our artists are good at writing; they’re not that good at engineering and production. So we pair them up in a studio or with a producer-mixer. “
None of FiXT’s current listings are local.
“There are a few from the Midwest,” Rhodes said. “As a company, our day-to-day operations take place here from the Iowa office because that’s where I’m from and I have roots here.”
Rhodes said FiXT specializes in specific genres.
“FiXT is our more rock and metal division – our version of rock and metal is ‘rock and metal with a lot of synths and electronic elements added,'” he said.
“FiXT Neon is our synthwave and indie pop division. Synthwave is a modern genre, but it looks like it’s 80s music. A lot of artists do that 80s retro kind of music, very video game and sci- inspired by fi, but with that retro 80s vibe. And there’s a really big stage for that. And we’re heading towards indie pop, which is a little different for us. “