Last Triumph: Indie Record Label With a Really Big Heart

Lindsey Siegele — B the Change

As a 20-something music producer, Jarod Hadaway, the co-founder of indie record label Last Triumph, has accomplished a lot in a short period of time.

Hadaway played in punk bands as a teenager before graduating from high school. He earned a scholarship to the Institute of Production and Recording (IPR) in Minneapolis.

Last Triumph was born from Hadaway’s love of music production along with a desire to uplift artists from Minneapolis’ music scene. The label was established in 2011 and today represents five artists: Marah in the Mainsail, New Sound Underground, Good Morning Bedlam, BadNraD and Sassan.

Last Triumph looks for artists that are talented and have a positive attitude, says Hadaway. “When we search for new artists, we first listen to their music and also look at how they’re representing themselves and the overall message and vibe.”

Environmental Stewardship and Community Engagement

Once artists have signed with Last Triumph, they’re required to adhere to certain sustainability requirements. The label primarily releases albums on original vinyl records and cassette tapes, both of which can be recycled. Record and tape sleeves are made from recycled cardboard. Whenever possible, T-shirts and other merchandise are bought from local vendors and made from sustainable materials. Show venues are encouraged to recycle bottles, cans and plastics and provide for composting. The Last Triumph recording studio is powered by renewable wind energy.

“We’ve been able to establish great relationships with our vendors,” Hadaway says. “We’ve worked really hard over the years to establish these positive relationships.” The label’s organic T-shirt vendor, St. Paul-based Shameless Inc., even provides a discount because Last Triumph is a Certified B Corporation.

For inspiration, Hadaway looks to other artists and labels that prioritize the environment in their work, such as Jack Johnson’s label, Brushfire Records. “Their recording studio operates on solar energy, they’re members of 1% for the Planet, and when their artists, like Jack Johnson, perform an event, I’ve heard that they request the event be zero-waste and eco-friendly.”

Last Triumph also works to increase its positive impact on local communities. Last year, Last Triumph donated time to designing and building a community recording studio in a low-income area of Saint Paul. The studio is free for young people to use. Hadaway visits the studio once or twice a month, teaching seminars on music production and engineering. He hopes to start a similar project in Minneapolis.

Finding Strategic Partnerships

In the past year, the label’s five artists performed at more than 300 events. Last Triumph also sells albums in more than 50 record stores nationwide. Hadaway declined to release the label’s revenue numbers, but he estimates growth at 15 percent in the next year and 100 percent over five years.

Partnerships with like-minded companies have also been lucrative. Last Triumph works with B Corp organic drink company Guayaki to serve beverages at events and create social media content.

Hadaway has been splitting his time between Last Triumph and his involvement with a developing “smart-guitar” company, Jamstik, manufacturing an instrument that syncs with computers and mobile devices. Jamstik hired Last Triumph to help with its Kickstarter campaign last year, and Hadaway got his artists to play Jamstiks onstage for fans.

Last Triumph is a sponsor and partner with Hope Now Asia, a nonprofit that provides education and a safe living environment for HIV-positive kids in India who have lost their parents to AIDS. Last Triumph donates at least 5 percent of it’s annual revenues and services to Hope Now Asia and other nonprofits.

Becoming a Community Influencer

Last Triumph is the world’s first record label to become a B Corporation, but Hadaway admits that starting conversations about business with artists isn’t always easy. “They don’t get it at first,” he says. “I think that the word ‘corporation’ kind of rubs the creative world in a bad way. But once we explain B Corps, immediately the light turns on.”

In Hadaway’s opinion, the more businesses like Last Triumph that exist in the future, the better. He’s encouraging his competitors to copy Last Triumph’s ethos. “We’re not worried about others taking away from our business,” he says. “I would rather inspire hundreds of record labels to become what we are. Then other artists and labels that we work with would be on the same page.”

“Musicians and what they represent have such a big influence on society,” says Hadaway. “As a record label with a roster of performing artists, we have the opportunity to bring this ethical movement to a lot more people in the creative world.”

Our favorite songs from Last Triumph artists:

This story originally appeared on B the Change.