The birth of my label: Malimba Records

WOW! I just realized it has been almost 30 years since I started my own record label in the USA. And what a great adventure it has been.

There is something very freeing and empowering about an artist who can publish his own music, anytime he wants, in whatever ways he wants.

But how did I even start thinking of starting a record label?

Well the short story is this:

one year after Osho left his bodyI l left Pune and moved to Hawaii where I made my first semi-professional recording. I was not even dreaming of becoming a professional musician, but I just had this burning desire in my heart to record some music. I guess my very first recording  - that happened then to become the music for No Dimension Meditation (story HERE) - was fueling that fire. So I borrowed the money I needed to buy my first ADAT - the very first 8 tracks digital recording on the market, that was recording on a VHS tape, the same format as the first rental Movies were made in  - and started recording what I thought it would have been another meditation music. But to my surprise what came out of me was anything but that: a very upbeat latin/island style music that I had no idea where it was coming from (well from inside of me for sure!). Once finished the album - titled “Bandolè!” - I followed the suggestion of my friend Govi (the Govinda who was playing sitar in Pune one) - who was already signed up with a quite large New Age music label called Real Music - and sent them my demo to listen to. At first they seemed interested and told me they were seriously considering. I was sooo excited to hear that! 

But after a week or two Terence - the CEO of the company - called me and told me that they decided not to take it.

Of course I fall into a little depression as all my desires seemed to disappear on the horizon. But I set down and started making my brain work… ”there must be another way” I kept thinking. And then I thought: “What if I manufacture the CD itself, with graphics and everything, and then I would give Real Music the exclusivity of distribution worldwide? They would not risk/invest a single penny. So I call back Terence and told him my proposal. He said he will call me back in a few days. The next day he called me and told me they agree to my proposal…bingo!

So I ran to borrow some money again to manufacture my first 500 CDs. But after fulfilling the first order of 100 CDs from Real Music that came through my fax machine, weeks and then months passed and the fax machine remained absolutely quiet. 

“Mmmmh, in this way is not going to work” I thought “they had the exclusivity and I cannot sell the CDs to anybody else.”

So I got on the phone and called Terence and told him basically that, that there was their logo on  my CD and I couldn’t sell it to anybody else and that they needed to do better than this.

After a week he called me and told me “Shastro, good news, we cracked the nut!” which basically meant that they had a meeting with a buyer from a very large US chain of stores called The Nature’s Company and their buyer decided to carry Bandolè - one  among only 20 or so that they were selling (together of course many other items) - in all of their 250 stores in America!

Everyone in those days was riding the wave of the Nouveau Flamenco style heralded by Ottmar Liebert. 

A guitar based style with a very latino feel to it, resembling a very simple and light flamenco style. Because “Bandolè” had a lot of latino style guitar (as well as vocals and flutes), Real Music - and The Nature’s Company - managed to make my album surf on that wave. 

And so three days after Terence’s call the fax machine came finally alive again and with the surprising order for 5,000 CDs! I couldn’t believe my eyes! 

I run to borrow more money to be able to fulfill such a large order and it was indeed the last time that I had to do that. These kind of orders kept coming in for the following two years , so much so that I could not only pay back all my debts but even purchase new equipment for my growing recording studio so that I could complete the recording of the follow up album. 

Once completed I  was very happy with Malimba Moon, as I felt it was even better then its predecessor. 

I presented it to Real Music being certain that they would agreed to the same deal as they sold so many copies of my first album - over 100,000. But to my surprise they turned it down, saying that they were reducing their roster because the CD market - that has been constantly growing for years, as everyone was replacing their vynil discs collections with the newer digital CD format - it was now waning. Further more the downloads were starting to take a lot of the business away from the CDs.

So I was back almost to square one with a good product and nobody to sell it for me.

After a few days of intense thinking again, I finally just said to myself “Fuck it! I am going to sell Malimba Moon myself!”

And that is why the name of my record label became Malimba Records.

After a few more albums I was joined in this adventure by my friend Nadama, a virtuoso pianist and composer, who wanted me to sell his music as well and after that, one at the time, other musician friends came, some of them who were at the Ashram in India with me. At a certain point Malimba Records was representing more than 12 artists and we had over 70 albums on our catalog. We became well known in the USA as a small independent label that was producing "quality" New Age/World music, covering the spectrum of music for the Healing Arts, massage and bodywork , Yoga, Tantra, relaxation and more. Several of our titles won Music Awards in the US.

What a ride it has been. Today I pause to feel into it as I write this post... and I am feeling quite proud of having taken this not very well-trodden path for an artist, and having succeeded to help so much good music to get to so many people's ears and hearts.

With the new digital platforms and the streaming that has become one of the major sources of income for music, many things have changed, the catalog has been reduced and so the roster of the artists. But I recall with a lot of fondness the years we have been riding the wave of publishing our music in the CD format.

If you are curious about us and our music you can visit our web site, just type in: 

I want to conclude by telling you what is now my perception about the music that came out of me and of all the artists on my label: it was love that came out of our hearts in that form. And so is true listening: love. Yes, between the musician and the listener a love relationship is established - love is given and love is received in both directions. 

Love to all ~ Shastro

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