Record Company Takes Extremist Message to the MassesWilliam Pierce is stepping up his record company's marketing efforts to make its products more visible and generate a profit for the struggling company, which he purchased last year. The company is Resistance Records, and Pierce has been called the most powerful and dangerous white supremacist in the United States.
"[Resistance Records] specialize[s] in what's known as resistance music, which in the past has been largely sort of underground [and] produced by amateur bands. Our aim is to mainstream it a bit," said Pierce, who also leads the National Alliance, a 26-year-old group of 1,500 members, which was named the largest neo-Nazi group in the country by the Anti-Defamation League. Pierce said the alliance is not affiliated with Resistance Records, Hillsboro, WV.
Just as the Internet allows mainstream online merchants to attract customers who were traditionally out of their reach geographically, it enables groups like the National Alliance and companies like Resistance Records to reach a broader audience. In the past, people interested in "underground" organizations may have had to go to a meeting, but the Internet makes it easy for people to get information while remaining anonymous.
The 5-year-old record company launched its Web site, resistance.com, about two years ago. The Web site is promoted in the company's paper catalog, magazine and product packaging.
Pierce estimates that at least 95 percent of the product offerings on Resistance's Web site are 300 to 400 CDs of bands, whose names include Blue Eyed Devils, WhiteWash and the Angry Aryans. The merchant also sells cassettes and products ranging from a $10 mouse pad featuring Adolf Hitler's face to Pierce's $15.95 novel, "The Turner Diaries" -- which reportedly laid the groundwork for the Oklahoma City bombing.
Last year, Resistance Records generated less than $300,000 in sales, Pierce said, but it did not make a profit.
"Everything that's come in has gone back into the company," he said, adding that he expects to bring in between $500,000 and $700,000 in gross sales this year.
Meanwhile, Pierce, who doesn't have a marketing professional on staff, doesn't know of any competition in his market in the United States. "There are some people who produce a subgenre of resistance music known as skinhead music, but we are much broader than that."
The Anti-Defamation League said it's hard to quantify the number of white supremacists in the country.
"We use the general term 'extremists' because within that grouping of extremists, there are lots of different groups," said Marilyn Mayo, associate director of the league's fact-finding department. "Resistance Records now is in a very unique position. The National Alliance already has a structure set up -- it's a very centralized, organized group that is run like a tight ship. They have the financial backing and the organizational abilities to recruit people. They have the ability to attract not just skinheads and young people, but also they've managed to attract middle-class and upper-middle-class people."
The record company mailed its first print catalog with its quarterly magazine, Resistance, last summer to 15,000 online and mail-order customers, but mostly, it offers its compact discs through an order form in the magazine.
Pierce said he plans to cut costs by mailing the catalog separately after the summer issue goes out later this month. "The magazine is fairly bulky; it's expensive to mail," he said. "It's a lot cheaper just to mail a catalog."
The summer issue of Resistance magazine, which is designed inhouse by a staff of eight and costs $20 for a yearly subscription, will be mailed to 10,000 customers. Pierce said less than half are paid subscribers; although, "circulation is going up."
The magazine's content consists of movie and CD reviews, interviews with bands, news articles and photographs from concerts. Its 64-page winter issue contained three ads that were not affiliated with Resistance Records or the National Alliance.
Single copies also are sold by a wholesaler at underground concerts and on Resistance's Web site. They also can be bought in 20 or 30 record stores and newsstands throughout the country. Pierce said he doesn't have plans to rent or exchange outside lists but "that's not ruled out." The company does not make its subscriber list available to third parties and doesn't plan to make it available in the future.
A direct mail piece to draw new subscribers also is in the works.