Tony Brummel's, founder of Chicago-based hardcore/underground punk label Victory Records, foray into the music business started out as a hobby. Around August 1989, Brummel started putting out records for friends who loved punk and hardcore music while studying to be a history teacher in college and waiting tables at night.
Combining his income from his waiter's job and selling his punk record collectibles, Brummel turned his hobby into a full-time business. Victory Records now boasts a full-time staff and national distribution through RED Distribution and a network of over 100 independent stores and overseas distribution deals all over the world. Initially, Victory's first releases were 7" singles, followed by full-length CDs, which slowly began to sell in various regions of the U.S., Europe, and Japan buoyed by the underground punk scene mail order, fanzine ads, college radio, and the label acts' various appearances on locally produced cable and broadcast shows around the country. The majority of the label's first acts came to Brummel's attention either through the mailed demo tapes or bands he'd meet at concerts.
As Victory's sales continued to pick up, Brummel decided to the open a record store, Bulldog Records. Located in Wicker Park (one of the home bases of alternative/underground rock) on Chicago's north side in the former site of a tattoo parlor, the store gets its name from the label's logo. Brummel wanted the record store to be more than just about selling records. He wanted the store to be an integral part of the community. To that end, Bulldog Records is a place where fans of hardcore/underground punk came come, hang out, exchange ideas, and purchase releases by Victory and other labels. The label's website helps to boost sales.
Many of Victory's acts have a message in the middle of their music. One of their most popular bands, Earth Crisis follows strict vegetarian diets and abstains from alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and promiscuous sex. Other acts on the label's roster deal with environmental, societal, and urban issues.
Other Victory acts are Hi-Fi & the Roadburners Integrity, Baby Gopal, Snapcase, Warzone, Deadguy, Cause for Alarm, Cast Iron Hike, The Path of Resistance, Guilt, Bloodlet, Strife, Dougnuts, Tonto Tonto, and Paul Rodgers. Brummel caters his label's releases to include records for the die-hard vinyl audience.
Brummel readily admits that he studied the histories of Sun, Motown, Stax, and other independent record labels of the past to see how they did what they did. Which may accountant for the large part of Victory's success.