Conventions & Awards

Indie Label Advice From The Great Escape 2014

Great-escape-logoThe Great Escape is a major European music festival and convention that took place earlier this month in Brighton, UK. Two high points of the convention included an interview with Tru Thoughts founder Robert Luis and a keynote from CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke. Both shared some practical thoughts for record labels on the contemporary music biz with Cooke giving direct-to-fan a new take from the label's perspective.

The Great Escape took place in Brighton May 8 through 10. An industry convention also occurred though with a bit less fanfare.

CMU covered the convention including recordings of some of the presentations.

Getting An Indie Label Off The Ground

Tru Thoughts' co-founder Robert Luis spoke and shared useful insights for indie labels just getting off the ground:

“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."

"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."

Why Labels Should Be Thinking Direct-To-Fan

CMU's Chris Cooke kicked off the convention with a keynote that included suggestions for labels in general to take a direct-to-fan approach:

"The single most exciting thing – and the biggest opportunity – in the web-era music industry is direct to fan…In the 1990s artists didn’t know who their artists were beyond the mosh pit and fan letter. Not only that, artists’ primary business partners – the labels and tour promoters – didn’t even know who the fans were, they relied on the retailers and ticketing companies to reach the fans."

"In the web age artists know exactly who their core fanbase are. And it seems to me that the music industry of the 1990s totally under-serviced core fanbase…Because we didn’t give those fans enough opportunities to spend."

"Buy one record every three years, ten pounds. Buy a gig ticket every eighteen months, £45. But what if the fan had £20 a month to spend with the artists? They weren’t given the opportunity to do so. That’s where the real value of direct-to-fan comes in."

"There were logistical reasons why we didn’t properly service core fanbase in the past, but the web changes that; get direct-to-fan right and there are many more opportunities to sell these fans stuff. And labels should be getting involved in those opportunities with their artists as the direct to fan experts."

Of course direct-to-fan is typically thought of as an approach that bypasses middlemen with labels defined as such. However musicians taking that route and finding success soon also find that it's tough to do-it-[all]-yourself.

So building direct-to-fan expertise not only differentiates labels but makes them better partners with indie-minded artists.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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