Engine Company Records (Burnside Distribution) is a nationally and internationally distributed record label based in New York City, founded by recording artist and producer Blake Morgan.
Morgan is hardly one to rest on recent laurels, but he’s confident and at ease juggling his multiple successes as label owner, producer, and recording artist. After recording and producing twenty-one albums in seven remarkable years filled with record-breaking album sales, touring, national press, television, film, and radio, Morgan has realized an extraordinary dream: an unselfish and revolutionary record label, a label both productive and profitable. A label that works in partnership with its artists. A label that evokes the early days of the classic record companies: where many artists appear as guests or as backing musicians on each others’ albums, often crossing style and genre to do so. A label where the unimaginable is simply the norm: where all the artists own their own music and recordings.
That label is Engine Company Records.
Morgan’s successes as a recording artist, songwriter, singer, and producer have paired him with Lenny Kravitz, Phil Ramone, Janita, Lesley Gore, Mike Errico, Patti Rothberg, Terry Manning, and Phil “Butcher Bros.” Nicolo, among many others. His work has taken him from The Hit Factory in New York to Sound City in Los Angeles, from Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas to Studio 4 in Philadelphia.
In 1997, after signing a multi-album deal with Phil Ramone’s label N2K (Sony/Red), Morgan criss-crossed the country for more than a year, promoting his album Anger’s Candy. Yet despite rave reviews for the album and for Morgan’s shows, the dissatisfaction of working under traditional record company control was undeniable. “But I didn’t want to become one of those recording artists who spend their lives complaining about their label.” Spotting an opportunity to, as he puts it, “break free,” Morgan did the unheard of: he told Ramone he wanted out of his long-term deal.
Morgan began writing and recording new material, for himself and for others. “Since I’d co-produced both Anger’s Candy and my previous EP, Sneakers, musicians started asking me for help with their music and recordings.” At the same time, though, he began to showcase for a different major label deal: “I was following standard advice, still caught on the treadmill, not realizing I was running backward.” Then at a packed label showcase in 2001, he had an epiphany: “It was great—the show, the band, the songs. But I couldn’t help feeling that what we were doing was asking permission from people who don’t make music to make our own music.” That realization, he says, changed everything.
Defiantly, Morgan began inventing a totally different future for his music—launching in 2002 what has become the Engine Company Records home for himself and the exciting list of artists he produces. “It’s all on our own terms, with artists and music we believe in. And we never ask permission from anyone to do what we’re doing.”
And doing incredibly well.