A self-proclaimed “soft boy” has started his own record label at 18.
Shane Malone, an 18-year-old UF materials engineering freshman, produces, distributes and creates under Speed Demon Records, his own record label, which he founded in August 2019.
When he founded the label, his goal was to put both his music, as well as music created by artists he admires, on one platform. Malone describes Speed Demon Records as a pseudo-record label.
“It doesn’t follow the conventions of a normal record label,” he said. “It doesn’t dictate what you’re going to put out.”
The name of the label came naturally when he was uploading an album to Spotify and was prompted to enter a record label. He drew inspiration from one of his older songs.
“Without thinking I put down Speed Demon Records. I always liked that moniker, and I had a song from 2014 or 2015 called ‘Speed Demon,’” Malone said. “I just liked the name of it.”
At the time he had been producing and mixing beats for his friend, Ashton Chase, as well as collaborating with John Rankin “JR” Molm, a 21-year-old UF accounting senior and co-founder of Speed Demon Records, on new songs. Both are now affiliated with the record label.
“I thought ‘Why not just manifest this Speed Demon Records thing?’” he said.
Malone offers a service to distribute and release music for artists, but he understands that some people would rather continue to handle that on their own.
“It’s more of a collective than a record label,” he said.
Malone said the label has become closely associated with the “soft boy” brand he started using to describe his own music. For him, the term is a nod to the soft and “vibey” sounds in his music and that of other artists under the label.
“People do respond to the aesthetic of it,” he said. “Like the whole ‘soft boys’ thing… I casually mentioned that once and people went off like crazy on social media.”
The feedback drove Malone.
“I started to incorporate it into our brand and our aesthetic,” he said. “It has kind of become a second name or alias.”
Malone said he receives about three or four demos per month from people wanting to join. While that may not be a lot in the grand scheme of things, he said it means the world to him.
“Some people are actually really good and I’m like ‘Hey, you know we don’t really have any money, right?’”
He explains to them that he’ll do whatever he can to fund them and put them on a platform, but that he and Molm are “just a couple of college kids having fun.”
He said that the tracks released by most of the artists aren’t necessarily head bangers. They’re looking to embrace that and reduce the stigma that can be associated with the idea of being soft or releasing soft music.
Molm said he thought the record label’s “vibey” reputation carried over to Hintrlnd, his and Malone’s band.
The two started Hintrlnd in Jacksonville in 2015. They took a hiatus when Molm moved to Gainesville for college and reunited when Malone joined Molm at UF in August. They started collaborating more, which eventually led to the record label.
Their newest album, “Songs to Make Her Move,” was released on March 18. Molm, who wrote the album himself, said he was hoping to expand their sound and start to break out of the “soft boy” label they’ve consistently been associated with.
Molm, being an accounting major, is able to contribute to the managerial aspect of the label as its financial and administrative director. One of his favorite parts is the merchandise production. He remembers the first time he saw the logo on the pastel shirts of the first line.
“If I wouldn’t want to wear it, we’re not going to make it,” he said.
The logo features Malone’s artwork. He describes his style as crude, reflecting his inexperience with art.
Malone said that their online presence has helped them gain traction as a label.
“I feel like in the online era, everything is super noncommittal, right? Now you just put it up on Spotify, make an Instagram page. It’s really more of an online presence.”
Speed Demon Records’ Instagram page @speeddemonrecords, has gained 651 followers since it launched six months ago.
Anthony Nguyen, a 19-year-old UF biology sophomore, known as Naynoth on Spotify, is another local artist affiliated with Speed Demon Records.
“It was really cool to see how much work Shane and JR put into the website,” Nguyen said. “When that launched and I got to see all of our shining faces on there it really felt like a real thing.”
There are currently six artists signed to the label. Helladusty is based in California and Ashton Chase is based in Ohio. The rest of the artists— Pastel Palms, Shane Malone, Naynoth and Hintrlnd— are scattered throughout Florida.
In December, Malone put on a Speed Demon Records holiday show in Jacksonville. He said they had about 85 people come out and made about $1,000 total.
Merch sales and shows provide the main flow of money for the record label.
Malone said the label takes a 20% cut from each ticket sold at shows the label hosts. At the door, concert-goers are asked which artist they are there to see. The artists’ revenue is based on the amount of people they bring in.
“I try to give back to the artists as much as possible.” Malone said. “I mean, like, I get it. Art is the focus.”
Now that the label has some money to its name and Malone doesn’t have to rely solely on his own funds, he wants to branch out and expand the clothing line. He currently has a summer collection in mind.
“I see Speed Demon Records as just a name and a creative outlet,” he said. “I don’t want people to be confined to anything.”
He said that he hopes to throw a show in Gainesville as well as orchestrate a regional tour and behind-the-scenes content.
“I think it would be really cool to have an album with everybody in Speed Demon on it,” Nguyen said, “like a collective.”
More information and updates concerning Speed Demon Records and its artists can be found on their website.
Correction: The article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of John Rankin “JR” Molm's last name. The Alligator previously reported differently.
Contact Julia Coin at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @juliacoin.