Music Analytics & The Creative Business Of Lemaitre
An abandoned three-story brick building in the middle of a former brewery is a pretty sweet spot to make music. In a sprawling, though somewhat disheveled studio, the two young gentleman that have adopted the moniker Lemaitre, play and produce until the wee hours of the night, creating the funk-inspired electronica that is catapulting them from the small town of Oslo, Norway, to worldwide renown. But beneath it all – lies a keen sense of business savvy.
With a music industry still adjusting to the current state of the marketplace, many argue that it is near impossible for the typical musician to make money these days. The rise and fall of Napster, the dawn of digital, and the ubiquity of high-standard equipment that allows artists to produce without relying on an established (and expensive) recording studio or major label backing, have led to a revolution in the industry in just a few short decades. Social streaming services such as SoundCloud, which near tripled in activity last year, have many industry veterans up in arms about the concept of releasing music for free, claiming that it devalues the work in the eyes of fans. But Ketil Jansen and Ulrik Denizou Lund have a very different perspective, and are making it work to their advantage.
Jansen & Lund, both 22, have been making music together for the past two years. The pair have been friends since junior high, and decided to focus on their craft full-time after high school. Both band members write and produce. Lund, who also does vocals, has a background in hip hop, Jansen in house, and their influences range from the greats within their genre such as Daft Punk, to classical music and jazz. “We really wanted to have the ability to do different tempos and experiment with it.”
The boys record their own samples for their music. “A coincidence,” Lund says, “We didn’t know how to clear samples, so we started making our own.” But this gives them freedom to create whatever they please.
Lemaitre has started to make a substantial amount of noise on the music scene. In December 2012 they appeared on the Next Big Sound chart, and during the last week of March they ranked third of all artists in number of new followers on SoundCloud (second only to Azealia Banks and Macklemore). Their videos are getting substantial play on YouTube, having reached four million total views on their official channel.
“With each release it has grown more and more,” says Lund, adding that they keep themselves relevant by putting out quality music and videos on a regular basis. “It has grown exponentially after we released Relativity 3.” Looking at their data, a significant growth in their fan base around the time of their latest release is indeed evident. In the past three months, they saw close to 10,000 new Facebook fans, more than 25% of their total, and 1,800 new Twitter followers, a 256% increase from the previous period.
Lemaitre have seen a massive boost in fan base since their latest release, particularly on SoundCloud, where they have added an average of more than 32,000 new followers each week in the past month.
An online presence has been imperative to the story of Lemaitre. "It's not like we have social media hour on Fridays," Jansen jests, "If you see something funny you tweet about it.” However they have established a presence across all of the major online channels to ensure that they and their music are accessible to potential and existing fans, and cite SoundCloud and YouTube as their biggest platforms. "It makes it easier for people to get in to the music, and listen to the music,” says Lund, adding that the easier it is to get hold of, the more likely it is that fans will share.
Lemaitre cite SoundCloud and YouTube as their biggest online platforms.
Lemaitre releases all of their music for free, with the option to purchase. "We grew up with Napster. We were the first generation to just download everything," Lund says, explaining that people would be able get it without paying no matter what, but if the music is good enough a significant portion of listeners will be willing to pay for the privilege. And the approach is seemingly successful. As is they make enough of a profit from syncs, sales, streams and gigs, about half of their income came from touring in 2012. "We still earn money on streaming and selling our music, and we’re not the biggest band in the world,” says Lund. “So if we can make money, I don't see a reason to complain.”
As for handling their affairs, Lemaitre has been working with manager Christopher Wareing of MADE Management since the fall of 2011. Wareing runs their label Substellar Records, they are signed to SONY Music in Norway and Sweden, recently cut a deal with OneLove Records in Australia, and have more talks underway. Lund explains how they are very happy they didn't take the first and best deal that came their way, because frankly best had nothing to do with it. Instead they built a solid following and used this as leverage in negotiations. “We did everything by ourselves through the internet,” says Lund. “Then it spread, got quite big, and we started getting proper offers.”
Their approach comes from understanding and adapting to a changing market place. "Large companies don't want to change their ways, because it is expensive and impractical,” says Jansen, "but you can’t change the market to fit the strategy either. So you sort of have to adapt.”
Change is in store for Lemaitre. The former office villa that houses their studio will be completely renovated and transformed into apartments at the end of summer, and this interview has been slotted in between a tight schedule of meetings with members of the Australian press. Lund mentions a desire to take their studio across the Atlantic, but the options are open. Regardless they plan to continue making the keen business decisions that is helping them make a solid living as a band.
“Even though we are a lot bigger now than we were two years ago,” says Jansen, “I still feel like this is the tip of the iceberg.”
This article previously appeared on Forbes.com. Liv Buli is the resident data journalist for music analytics company Next Big Sound. Buli is a graduate of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and her work has appeared in Newsweek Daily Beast, The New York Times Local East Village, Hypebot and more.