To celebrate National Album Day, we have spoken to a couple of artist managers, Seb from Yucatan Records and Sam from Council Records, who, as well as managing artists, have set up their own indie record labels.
In today’s streaming era, a playlist culture has developed which has seen many music fans shy away from listening to full albums in favour of consuming individual singles/tracks. National Album Day has pulled together the music industry to highlight the importance of albums, including their social and cultural impact, plus how notable albums have influenced many present-day artists.
Over the past 10 years, we have seen the role of a music manager change and develop. Often, the manager will act as the record label for many of his/her artists’ early single and EP releases. Instead of promoting the campaigns as self-released by the artist, some managers have officially set up record label arms to their businesses. The Music Managers Forum think it is important to highlight the work that managers are doing, however, if managers do decide to set up their own record labels, it is strongly advised not to double-dip, in other words, not to commission the same income as both a label and a manager.
Seb Fagg has been running Yucatan Records for 3 years now. He initially started by promoting gigs/club nights under the Yucatan brand in London. Seb started his record label and management company after spending time interning in the marketing teams at Columbia, Island, Communion and Virgin Records.
Sam Craven recently left Rough Trade Management to start his own management company and record label with Ade Bullock under the name Council Music. Both Sam and Ade were discussing the current musical landscape and felt that starting a new, artist-friendly company to help to develop and build an artist’s career was needed.
Sam, it is common for new indie labels to focus on releasing singles and EPs, why is working towards an album release important to you?
I believe for the initial period it is common for indie labels to release singles and EPs. It is a great way to begin a relationship with an artist that you see longevity in and to help establish and shape the label. The single encapsulates what that artist is at that point in time and the album shows organic growth and the evolution of that artist from that first single.
To me, the album represents a body of work for that artist and shows all the hard work you, your team and the artist themselves have put in to complete it and release it. It then goes out into the world for people to connect to and hopefully fall in love with. The best albums may go on to define a moment in a fan’s life and hopefully building a long-lasting relationship between the artist and the fan.
Seb, how important is timing when choosing to release the first album, and what is the most rewarding part of the process?
Timing is completely dependent on the genre. Some artists need a long setup time before releasing their first album to benefit from a full fanbase and to achieve chart movement, some just need to get a body of work out for discovery, and then the work begins. Malena Zavala’s new album Aliso is an example of the latter.
Every small victory is rewarding! A great review, being playlisted on the radio, a tour support offer, a headline show and all the other moments – seeing plans come together off the back of extensive work from a large team that we’re coordinating is amazing.
Sam, what prompted you to start a label as a manager?
We are facing a change in the industry, there is an increase in artists doing things themselves and taking more control. It is also a very tricky time for artists to obtain deals with majors unless a number of boxes have already been ticked. We felt that there was a place for an indie label, like Council Records, to help to nurture and develop talent.
Having worked in management for four years, with both underground and established artists, I wanted to explore a new business model that can exist alongside, and compliment, the artist career from the ground up.
Council Music is a non-genre specific record label/management company. Using our knowledge and experience, we hope to negotiate the best deals for our artists, while ensuring we take a collaborative approach with our artists’ campaigns.
Seb, what was the incentive to develop both a label and management company?
I felt there was room for very early artists to get more support and time from their label. The pressure on a manager at the time was shifting, with so much of the development work being left to them. The manager/label role was blurring for early artists, so it made sense to do both and make processes simpler. Running a label and management company enables us to react quickly to opportunities and adapt to rapidly shifting music industry models.
Seb is currently working with Blanco White, Malena Zavala and Swimming Girls (Recording + Management) plus George Cosby, Matthew & the Atlas and Wovoka Gentle (Management Only). You can find out more about Yucatan Records here
Sam and Ade are planning Council Records’ first releases for early 2019, with a record label launch party on 22nd November at 100 Club with live sets from Council Records Artists – Scalping, Talk Show, Rascalton and Harvey Causon. There will also be DJ sets from Baxter Dury and Nadine Shah. RSVP to the launch night here and find out more about Council Records here
The Music Managers Forum is running a training course on artist and manager business models on Tuesday 16th October with Chris Cooke, Remi Harris and Marcus O’Dair. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for discount codes and sign up at www.themmf.net/training-events
National Album Day is today, the 13th of October. For more information visit: www.nationalalbumday.co.uk
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