“Since 2001. Not surprised you haven’t heard of us.”
That’s what Dead Tank Records and Distribution states on its website. Josh Jubinsky, the founder of Dead Tank, doesn’t seem to mind one bit.
Librarian by day, and label owner by night, Jubinsky works as a children’s librarian downtown at the Jacksonville Public Library. But that doesn’t keep him from running a record label out of his garage in his free time.
The idea didn’t come until 2001, but Jubinsky grew up in Ormond Beach, and said his life was always hemmed in music, both in high school and college.
During high school, Jubinsky said he took International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and chose music as a special topic. In Ormond, he also attended several shows, where he got to meet various bands such as This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb, each month from out of town.
“I moved up here to go to UNF. It was close enough to the parents, but a far enough away kind of thing, you know, where laundry is a possibility, but you’re not gonna like swing by,” he joked.
Eventually, Jubinsky found himself embedded in the Jacksonville metalcore and hardcore scene, and soon decided to try his luck setting up a stand and distributing some records at local shows. At the time, Jubinsky said he didn’t know many people in town, and figured the stand would also be a good way to make connections.
Jubinsky then contacted the record labels of some of his favorite bands and started purchasing wholesale, and then redistributing the records at shows.
“It was a great way to spread stuff I like, as well as turn it into enough money to keep putting back into it,” said Jubinsky.
But that’s only where Dead Tank Records began.
From there, Jubinsky finally made connections with people who distributed records similarly to him, and in return, could help bands that had never released a record make those connections.
“Now I’ve met people who put out music and sell music the same way I do in their towns. So if I put it out, instead of me buying stuff from this label, we trade stuff and your music is getting sold in Philly or wherever,” said Jubinsky. “That kind of cascaded into what I do.”
Jubinsky bluntly said he did not start his own record label to make any money.
“Record labels don’t make money,” he said. “This is not the heyday of the record label. In the late ‘90s and early 2000s it made sense, but right now, everyone’s recording stuff and putting it up online. Money is not the point of it.”
Jubinsky said his job is to be the guy who has the money to put behind making hundreds of copies of a band’s record, and then distributing that to other people who then repeat the process. This way, small record labels, such as Dead Tank, act like a web of circulation for bands.
By keeping costs down and still producing a quality product with handmade elements, Jubinsky can distribute most of his records at a low cost, which he said is important because it encourages people to take a chance on purchasing a record, an act that is largely absent in the $20-plus retail prices of many record labels today.
“I’m doing this to share with people, but at the same time I like records, so I’m like reconciling these two worlds,” said Jubinsky, who relates it to sharing a great book with someone.
“Investing in things you want to share with your community, whether it’s from the community, or from some other community.”
That’s what Dead Tank Records does.