Gotee Records is the record label that was started by TobyMac, Joey Elwood, and Todd Collins in 1994. Everything Gotee releases has TobyMac's stamp of approval on it. Gotee's Stephanie Smith released a new single called "Letting Go" in February (2012) which can be purchased via iTunes (lyric video below).
A bit of history...
Todd Collins—a percussionist and hands-on producer with a bent toward hip-hop. Joey Elwood—producer focused on melody and concept. And the third ... Toby McKeehan, aka TobyMac, who also happened to be one third of the breakout group dc Talk. Back in 1992, the company took shape around their shared love of music. Though they had diverse tastes, they sported the same cropped beards and were together enough that people started calling them the "goatee brothers."
"At that time, there were very few labels, if any, focusing on music that will affect our generation," tobyMac told Billboard magazine. "I wanted to do a label that focused on a generation."
Together they formed a production team and started working with a young R&B trio called Out of Eden. When shopping for a label was unsuccessful, the three decided to form their own.
Elwood recalls, "We all collectively said, 'Let's just give this a shot.' At the risk of sounding unprofessional, it was a very naïve entry into the business. We basically learned every day, on the job, because we had no training for what we were doing, other than we loved music and we produced music. That was the entry point. Three naïve guys, a willing band, and some really good songs."
Thus Gotee Records was born, the name intentionally misspelled ("We didn't want to be known as "the facial hair guys," says Elwood). The early days were challenging, and the three men struggled at times to figure out the nuts and bolts of the business. "Oh man, there were so many things we didn't have a clue about," Elwood recalls. Mostly the operational stuff, like how to set up a record in order for it to be sold in stores, with things like UPC codes and ISRC codes, or knowing the Soundscan numbers and how to pay royalties—all the things that people just don't really know."
As their on-the-job training continued, the new label expanded to reflect the diverse interests of the founders. Within 12 months, three other acts were signed: Christafari, GRITS, and Johnny Q. Public. Elwood notes that the first four bands filled four different music categories. "We looked at is as four legs of a chair: reggae, R&B, rock, and rap. It was very unintentional. They all came to us in different ways, and we loved the music of all four."
The 15 years since Gotee's founding has naturally seen many artists come and go, some of them major hits, including Jennifer Knapp, SonicFlood, and still on their roster, Relient K. Elwood states that artists are almost always found through some established contact. "Honestly, it just comes out of relationship. Relationship with new artists, promoters, agents, publishers. I'd say 9.9 times out of 10 that's where all the new artists come from—it's relational."
New production and distribution models are guiding the Gotee of today. For the forseeable future, Gotee introduces newer artists digitally, reserving the traditional CD-based distribution model for established artists. The idea is to create demand through radio and the Internet sufficient for the release of a physical CD in retail outlets later on.
Through all the changes in a tumultuous industry, Gotee maintains a steady focus. McKeehan declares, "Gotee was born of an artist heart, so we will continue to be an entity focused on arts and artists. We feel confident in our ability to bring relevant and moving art to the people."
Elwood concurs, and offers a perspective on this chapter in the Gotee story. "I'm confident in our future. I'm confident in the future of Gotee but I'm even more confident in the future of music. I think there's a wonderful, wonderful road ahead for people who love this business, love communicating with people through music. God doesn't need a song or a record company or an artist for his perfect will to get done, but he sure can use us. It's an exciting time."