The Artery Foundation’s Eric Rushing reflects on his decades in music
How a small record label grew into a household name
When it comes to the music industry, Sacramento’s Eric Rushing has done it all: a record label, recording studio, management company, publicity company and a handful of live music venues.
What began with his own obsession for attending concerts grew into 720 Records, a record label and booking venture he started in 1996. Rushing modeled 720 Records off of Rusty Nail, a small Sacramento label circa the early ’90s. It released music by seminal local acts such as Far, Funky Blue Velvet and Prayer Wheel.
In 2004, 720 blossomed into the Artery Foundation. As a full-fledged national company, Artery is now practically a household name, with showcases at major annual industry gatherings like South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
Rushing’s management roster totals more than 25 acts, including Conquer Divide, a scenecore metal outfit; Anvil, a legendary Canadian thrash band; and Alesana, a metalcore act from North Carolina. And he’s got a great team behind him, with Will Stevenson leading the management side and Shan Dan Horan, a transplant from Century Media Records, running the label, Artery Recordings.
Most Sacramento bands probably think of Rushing as the Ace of Spades guy. Though he still books the venue, he and partner Bret Bair are now employees of Live Nation, which bought Ace of Spades earlier this year. Rushing also sold his stake in local establishments like LowBrau and Tank House in order to purchase a public relations company, High Road Publicity, and a local studio dubbed Gold Standard Sounds. He and Bair maintain their two smaller venues, Goldfield Trading Post and the Boardwalk in Orangevale.
Still, there were some hiccups. For example, Rushing and Bair left their management roles at downtown’s Assembly Music Hall in the fall of 2014 due to high overhead costs, and the Randy Paragary-owned building has remained vacant ever since.
“People should know when you start a business and have a decade-long legacy, it’s not all peaches and cream,” he said.
Rushing also gets a lot of flack for his practice of having local bands sell advance tickets to play his shows. If they don’t sell, they don’t get paid.
“The scene is not what it used to be,” he says, defending his method. “I offer local bands the chance to play with national acts they would never have the chance to. If anything, selling tickets helps local bands be relevant for the show and they’ll get paid if they sell ’em.”
Regardless, Rushing’s main priority right now is his label, which is steadier than Artery Foundation. For example, some very successful acts, like The Devil Wears Prada and A Day To Remember, left his management company for bigger opportunities.
“A lot of bands have the ’grass is always greener’ mentality and end up forgetting who did the real work to get them there,” Rushing said.
What will be Rushing’s biggest legacy? It’s too early to say, but it might be his pioneering of the screamo and metalcore genres on a national level. The impact is in the numbers: Artery Recordings has sold more than 600,000 records in six years, at a time when people seemingly no longer buy music.