How do you remain a practical and profitable small business while giving nearly 10 percent of your gross annual revenues to support a variety of charitable organizations? Just ask Louis Posen, founder of the Van Nuys-based independent record label Hopeless/Sub City, who has donated over $1 million of his company’s earnings to charity since 1999. Beneficiaries of Posen’s efforts include more than 50 not-for-profit organizations of all types. “We believe you could have a lemonade stand and make a difference,” remarked Posen. Now 36, Posen began losing his eyesight at age 19 as the result of a degenerative retinal disease, retinitis pigmentosa, that attacks the eye’s photoreceptor cells. You might think that being told you’re going blind would be an irreparable blow to someone majoring in film at California State University, Northridge, but Posen refused to see the diagnosis as a death knell for his creative aspirations. Citing his “rambunctious nature” in the face of what his doctors were telling him, Posen continued to pursue his film career while he still could, directing music videos for punk rock fixtures such as NOFX, Guttermouth and Lagwagon. He also took on a variety of film and commercial production assignments to help supplement his income and continue to try and move his cinematic career forward. “Doing punk rock videos doesn’t pay the bills,” quipped Posen, whose career shift came as the result of one of those videos. “In a nutshell, I was going to CSUN and also directing videos for bands. The second video (I did) was for Guttermouth.” That led to his first foray into the record industry. Guttermouth members asked Posen to help them put out a seven-inch record. Starting his company in a ten-foot-square room in 1993 as essentially a hobby, Posen turned the label into a full-time enterprise in 1995. “It was a musical and personal milestone when I found punk,” remarked Posen. While his sight gradually continued to degrade, his passion for music continued to grow. So in 1999, Posen decided to start the philanthropic imprint label, Sub City. The idea was to further Posen’s personal mission of helping the disadvantaged and underprivileged, which then prompted the creation of Sub City’s successful Take Action Tour. “My goal in life is to help people in need and make a difference with my talents and resources . . .” said Posen.
Indie Record Label Makes Major Contributions