CIanan Porter runs his own record distribution label from Troy home – Times Union

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Cianan Porter runs his own record distribution label, Adirondack Black Mass, from his home in Troy.
Cianan Porter runs his own record distribution label, Adirondack Black Mass, from his home in Troy.
Cianan Porter running his Adirondack Black Mass table at the Upstate Punk Rock Flea Market in Albany On Oct. 23, 2021.
Cianan Porter’s Adirondack Black Mass wares at the RPM Fest Sept. 2-4 in Montague, Massachusetts. 
Cianan Porter runs his own record distribution label, Adirondack Black Mass, from his home in Troy.
Cianan Porter loves death metal. 
The Troy resident has been listening to it for nearly 20 years, since watching MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball” and becoming a fan of the band Carcass. He has “walls of vinyl” and is willing to fly anywhere in the country to catch a big show or festival.
When the pandemic made the latter an impossibility, Porter found a new way to connect with his preferred musical genre. He started his own record distribution label, Adirondack Black Mass.
“During the pandemic I was bored out of my mind,” he said. “I grew up in Pennsylvania and there was a big death metal scene. I collected music, but never learned to play, so I couldn’t play in a band. I decided, ‘just start a label.’
Listen to Adirondack Black Mass releases at adirondackblackmass.bandcamp.com 
Check out the label’s products at adirondackblackmass.com  
Follow Adirondack Black Mass on Facebook and Instagram @adirondackblackmass
 
“I’ve pretty much burned through my savings (doing it),”  Porter added. “But I was so bored and I wasn’t scared of COVID, but I was thinking about the whole finality of life. You can’t take money with you and it’s not worth saving it forever, so it was a perfect time to do it.”
Adirondack Black Mass officially launched in March 2021 and activity ramped up fast. To date, Porter has issued 22 projects on the imprint and has another 20 in the hopper for next year. 
The whole thing started off innocently enough, with Porter hoping to distribute physical releases of some of his favorite albums and under the radar selections that he felt would really connect with fellow death metal enthusiasts. He pored through his own record collection, looking through the liner notes to find the names of the companies and plants used to make them and reached out to find a company that would work with him to press vinyl records, cassettes and CDs.
“I had a list of albums from the mid-2000s that never had a vinyl release that I wanted to release in a physical format,” Porter said. “I just started reaching out to bands and smaller labels, mostly in Europe, that would allow me to sell wholesale (200-300 copies at a time) to them.
“I still haven’t released most of the stuff I want to because I started getting submissions,” he continued. 
Porter notes that metal has a “huge audience worldwide,” and within his first few releases he started receiving solicitations from bands in Europe, Mexico and South America. This amount of interest significantly raised the stakes of what is a one-person operation and forced him to “learn on the fly.”
He taught himself Photoshop, so he can rework album art to fit certain specifications as needed. He designs, targets and implements his own Facebook and Instagram ads to entice new business. And he’s learned how to spend his money wisely.
It’s cheaper and takes up less space in his apartment to order a batch of burned CDs, printed album booklets and empty jewel cases and package and shrink wrap the product himself as copies are ordered as opposed to ordering a completed project and hoping they all sell. When Porter orders vinyl he’s not going to have a finished product, much less see any sort of return on investment for at least six months.
Considering the fact that Porter runs Adirondack Black Mass as a side gig (he has a full-time job working nights at a pharmaceutical company), it can be pretty chaotic and stressful.
“I’m definitely like a bull in a china shop and I’ve kind of overextended myself,” he said. “It’s almost become a full-time job. I’m ordering vinyl, designing layouts, packing orders and dropping them in the mail.  My go-to deal is to order 200-300 copies of a vinyl, and the band gets 20 percent of them to sell however they want. The rest, I hope to God they sell. Otherwise I just have boxes and boxes in my apartment.
“I always warn bands that this is a solo label and I do everything myself. It’s a lot of do this, go there and watch my paychecks disappear,” Porter continued. “I’m trying to get on the side of planning and keeping on a schedule, because the goal is to be able to afford the amount of releases I have planned and not get to a point where I have all these invoices I can’t pay.”
All stressors aside, Porter enjoys his experiences with Adirondack Black Mass. He’s particularly enthusiastic over the “Ceremonial Resurrection” EP he released from Mexican band Cathartic this past June and the recently issued “Her Ghost is a Skygazer” by Italian shoegaze/black metal hybrid Erensyah. 
Releasing these projects serve to validate Porter’s entire rationale for creating Adirondack Black Mass and has him encouraged over its future.
“One of the biggest reasons I started it was to be part of a scene I’ve been into forever,” he said. “Every time I do it (issue an album) it’s like Christmas. Every time a band I’ve never heard of or a band I have heard of reaches out, it’s like ‘Wow, you want me to work with you.’
“I look at that and the bands I’m working with next year, and it’s just awesome.”
 
 
Jim Shahen has written for the Times Union since 2014 and is a true believer in the local music scene. His concert reviews are accurate and fair, especially the negative one of Justin Timberlake that raised hackles on Facebook. Feel free to email him with your music or music-related stories at jshahenjr@gmail.com

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