14th Avenue ‘tycoon’ launches a record label from a coffee shop

Porchlight Coffee & Art owner Zack Bolotin is a busy man. Beginning this fall, the modest storefront on 14th Avenue will serve not only as a coffee shop, art gallery and new and used record store but will also be the home of Bolotin’s own record label. His low ROI ambition was enough to have him named “Best Po’ Man’s Tycoon” by the Seattle Weekly.

“[I started the label] just because there are very few bands that I know and like who will actually sell a lot of records,” said Bolotin.

Bolotin has been playing music since the age of 15 and is the front man for the band Like Claws. Despite having a background in music, Bolotin wants to stay out of the production of the records. He says he has faith in the bands to do their own producing.

The label will be vinyl only but digital download codes will be included with all of the records.

“I personally haven’t bought a CD in forever,” Bolotin said. “It’s either digital or vinyl and it’s the same with a lot of other people I talk to.”

Porchlight isn’t the only Hill coffee provider mixing itself into the record label biz. Last summer, Caffe Vita made a stir when it signed a unique deal with the Blue Scholars.

Bolotin says his label will be financed primarily through sales at the coffee shop which celebrated its one year anniversary in June.

Bolotin decided to go into the coffee and record business after graduating from Seattle Central Community College. The neighbor of recently closed Tiempo clock shop has seen more success than Bolotin expected. Though most of the coffee sales happen in the morning, he says the shop has been selling at least a few records a day when Bolotin originally expected to sell a few a week.

The first release, a vinyl printing of Seattle band Grand Hallaway‘s “Promenade,” is scheduled for mid fall. Ideally, Bolotin would like to put out two to three records each year, more records than are released under Caffe Vita’s label, but he doesn’t foresee that happening for a little while and in store shows are still a rare occurrence. Bolotin hopes most of the record sales will happen online and at the bands’ shows.

He is currently looking at some bands outside of Seattle for the next releases but, according to Bolotin, nothing is for sure yet.

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