Business News Industry People Labels & Publishers The Great Escape 2014

As Tru Thoughts celebrates fifteen years, co-founder Robert Luis inspires future label entrepreneurs at The Great Escape

By | Published on Monday 12 May 2014

Robert Luis

The fifteenth anniversary of Brighton’s own Tru Thoughts was celebrated at this year’s Great Escape Convention last week, with the label’s co-founder Robert Luis telling his company’s story and inspiring the next generation of label entrepreneurs as part of TGE’s DIY programme for the grass roots music community.

CMU’s Chris Cooke, interviewing, noted that Tru Thoughts launched just as the record industry was heading into a decade of turmoil, but Luis says he knew that at the time. “I was friends with Mark Rae at Grand Central and Sav Remzi at Nuphonic, who’d both been putting out 100,000+ selling albums, and were suddenly releasing records and everyone was just downloading them [illegally]. And they were panicking about that, and rightly so”.

“But it meant that we knew that when we released our first Bonobo album lots of people were going to just download it”, he added. “So we were careful on what we spent from the start, which really helped. And still does”.

Being careful with what you spend is a good tip for all indie labels, and especially for any budding label owners considering setting up their own record company. But Luis had other advice too for anyone considering launching a label.

“Have a few releases ready to go before you officially launch. I made a few records under pseudonyms to make it look like we were bigger than we were! I wanted to release something every month or two, because after record four or five, people will start to say ‘who are these people – I should be checking them out’. We also really benefitted from having the existing club night, and that’s definitely something I’d recommend new labels consider”.

Meanwhile, on getting your artists heard, Luis added: “One tip would be not to forget the local level when launching new artists. I realised, having run a club in Brighton and having initially struggled to get promos from the big record companies as a DJ, if you send music to a DJ in Portsmouth or Bristol who are DJing to 200 or 300 people a week, they are probably more important, in that they are more likely to listen and quickly latch on to your releases than the big radio DJs, who are sent so many new records every week”.

You can hear the full conversation between Luis and Cooke here.