Right: Deb Ingstad, Ceo (50 Entertainment, Inc.)
Perhaps the most ambitious local start-up label is Minneapolis’s 50 Entertainment. Founded in 2006 by CEO Deb Ward-Ingstad, an entrepreneur who owns several radio stations in the south, 50 Entertainment is using traditional distribution paired with innovative marketing to build fan base and drive record sales on its imprint, 50 Records. This includes touring, traditional and Internet media relations, traditional distribution, digital distribution on all popular Internet retailers, band merchandise, and what Ward-Ingstad calls “a comprehensive fan-relations plan” to sell the first 30,000 records.
With eight employees and 12 interns, 50 Records is the best-staffed label in town. It has perhaps the Twin Cities’ only full-time in-house talent scout, Drew Pearson (formerly with the Universal Music Group, which owns dozens of well-known labels), and it is actively recruiting new talent by researching on MySpace and having staffers see live concerts four to five nights a week. To date, 50 Records has signed and released records by two bands and is working with several others.