Chris Lombardi is the Founder of Matador Records.
He launched the independent label in 1989 and over the last 30 years has worked with artists including Queens Of The Stone Age, Liz Phair, Interpol, Belle & Sebastian, Kurt Vile, Savages, and Cat Power.
Chris Lombardi: Career Beginnings
As a pre-teen, Chris Lombardi’s musical love was for classic rock, attending shows by Queen, Led Zeppelin and Kiss. His formative years were spent at New York record store Bleecker Bobs, buying British music magazines Melody Maker and NME and UK imports.
Lombardi’s early job at Long Island-based label Homestead Records’ distributor, Dutch East India Trading introduced him to record companies across the country and inspired him to document the New York scene, which led to the founding of Matador Records in 1989.
A year later, Lombardi was joined at Matador by Gerard Cosloy, who ran Homestead.
Chris Lombardi: Selling Matador and buying it back
Chris Lombardi: Personal Philosophy
Speaking to Loud & Quiet in 2014, Chris Lombardi reflected on his time with major labels and how it compares to signing bands, saying: “The thing that we learnt through the relationships with Atlantic and Capitol was that even more than ever we had to stay true to school.
“Having these great labels woo you and dine you is kind of like the way bands are – they get wined and dined and wooed by A&R guys and they get told what incredible success they are going to bring them and in the end, in a corporate environment, it’s really about the corporate executive.
“They only seek out what they think will be successful in order to further their career – it’s about climbing that ladder and getting a new contract because you signed so and so. They washed their hands of their failures. When we did the Atlantic and Capitol deals both the guys that came and wooed us over to their companies left during our deals.
“When we try to sign a band we tell them: ‘The guys who are sitting in this room, these guys you are talking to have been in this company for 25 years doing the same thing, you know, and we’re not going anywhere.'”
“The thing that we learnt through the relationships with Atlantic and Capitol was that even more than ever we had to stay true to school.”
Chris Lombardi on major label partnerships
Music Business Worldwide