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The Great Escape 2012: Record labels v self-releasing

By | Published on Friday 11 May 2012

The Great Escape

As part of the stand of sessions giving advice for artists considering going the DIY route on the first day of the CMU-programmed Great Escape convention, which kicked off in Brighton yesterday, the founders of four independent labels gave an insight into what goes into running an independent record label, and what they can offer over an artist self-releasing their recordings themselves.

The panel included Memphis Industries’ Ollie Jacob, Robert Luis from Tru Thoughts, Alex Fitzpatrick from Holy Roar, and Song, By Toad’s Matthew Young. Prior to going on stage, we asked three of the panelists whether they are any pros to artists going down the DIY route versus signing with a label.

“I think artists going the DIY route is a good way to understand how various aspects of the business of music works”, said Luis. “Though, in the long run, running a label is time consuming, so you’ll need someone fulltime working on it. As a label, we offer staff who specialise in different aspects of their jobs (publishing, licensing, PR, distribution, accounts and contracts to name a few) and a set up and contact list that is well established and experienced”.

He added: “My view is if you are a talented artist, keep an eye on the ‘business’ but let someone else concentrate on it and do the work so you can concentrate on the creative side of making great music”.

Fitzpatrick added: “I think a label such as ours offers (I hope) a stamp of validity to an artist’s work. I think labels can act as a filter, can elevate artists onto a pedestal somewhat and help them stand out above the clutter. Labels also offer advice on a variety of topics and help with tours, managers, booking agents, merchandise – everything really. I am very pro bands going down a DIY route, but it is a lot of work and harder than working with a label you trust and respect”.

As for advice for anyone considering setting up their own label, Jacob said: “Manage expectations, both yours and the artists. Make sure, however much you love them and their music, that you don’t let your spend on an artist get out of hand”.

Luis added: “Ask as many people as possible who actually run labels or have released music for advice (no matter what the genre of music). Do not worry about making mistakes, this is an important learning curve. And expect to work hard to get people to pay attention to your music”.

Stay tuned to for more updates from this years Great Escape convention.