Banner image of hands flicking through vinyl records. Nightchild Records logo over image and the wording for the feature.

Batavia Records

Label Profile

 

Anyone who pays close attention to their promo inbox or new labels on the block will have quickly spotted Batavia Records, based in Heiloo (near Amsterdam) when it launched back in 2016. It’s smooth sounds, and reliability for quality releases made it a firm favourite on my mixes and High 5ives show from early on. The label’s main style is Deep House, but they’ve touched on Downtempo Dub, Deep Tech, Chill Out/Electronica along the way too.

 

How did the label come to be - what’s the story of how why you created it?

First of all, thank you for having us on your show and doing this interview.

 

Starting a record company was a new chapter for me. As producer 'ZaVen' I officially started releasing at the end of 2014 and after that actually became history. I never thought it would be so successful, because I thought it would be fun to release an official record myself under an existing record company. That has now become more than 200 spread over more than 60 labels.

 

You gain a lot of experience with that and especially how I would do things differently with my own record company. That is going to bring that idea to life in your head and I started to investigate it seriously. I took another year and a half to do that, because the last thing you want to do is to run into financial problems or bother with contracts. I had some good support from Igor Gonya (Lisztomania Records, Sundries and Mole Records) who really helped me during this process. I will always remember his help and I am very grateful for that. This is a classic example that music connects people.

 

Actually I challenged myself if I would be able to start a successful record company. It is of course easy to comment on others from the sidelines. Now that I have grown with Batavia Records for four years together with my partner Stefano Maguolo (Steve Mag / Deepkeen), I now also understand better why record companies had made certain decisions.

 

The name of the label is important of course - one that is easy to remember internationally, with a cool logo attached to it. I wanted to represent my patriotic love and admiration for beautiful old sailing ships. Since the Dutch VOC was the first major multinational in the world between 1602-1800, and their ships sailed all over the world, I saw in this a great resemblance to music. What used to be transported by ship is now via the internet. The Dutch descend from the Batavians. Batavia was the headquarters of the VOC in Asia from 1619 to 1799 and then, until the independence of Indonesia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies.

 

Look, that's what I like. Choose a name with meaning that is connected to your country and has similarities with contemporary music. Just say for yourself, listening Deep House on a classic ship would be great.

 

What were the biggest challenges you had to get to release one?

I find this very difficult. When you are starting out, you should actually be happy that an artist wants to publish his work through you. Luckily I had credits and built up a network as an artist. Without that network it would have been even more difficult. First release was from artist Processing Vessel from USA, whom I have been friends with for a long time. His Sound Vessel Records label, which had previously published my music, already had a large platform. It is therefore important to have a good network. Also to be able to sail on other platforms.

 

Over time, you can gradually professionalize the sound of your label by setting higher requirements that a track must meet. That is not possible if you are starting out. I chose strategy. So artists who already influenced the music scene I wanted to step into. In this case it was Deep House.

 

What was the best piece of advice anyone gave you along the way?

The best advice I got was 'stay close to the sound you want'. Do not remember who said this to me, but this has always stayed with me. You will sometimes receive good quality demos, but which simply does not suit the sound you are looking for. It is very tempting to publish a qualitative track, but you know that it does not fit what you stand for. So advice is not publishing.

 

I've had a commercial track from two Polish producers. A very slick track that could just be a hit and I decided to do it. I was very hesitant. To draw the release more towards Deep House, I had asked very good producers to do a remix. This as a counterpart that if the original did nothing, it would still have a sale. The later choice worked out well. The original didn't sell much, but the remixes were much appreciated. Fortunately, from the beginning I have been honest with the producers from Poland and expressed my doubts, but that I wanted to try it in this form.

 

What makes the label unique?

What makes Batavia Records unique is actually a question that you should ask others, but I do have my thoughts on that. One thing I dare to say is that we have a good communication line with our artists. We put the artist above the label because we think they deserve the credits. Not us. Without music, there is absolutely nothing. Not even labels. That is why it is so important that artists get paid their royalties so that we can enjoy their music longer.

 

Another point that we are unique in is that we dare to mix both newcomers and established artists. We are also known for representing the deeper underground Deep House. This style is not always suitable for danceable DJ sets, but is great for radio sessions. I still did find two unique facts after all.

 

What’s your musical policy - what do you look for?

These are two questions in one. Let me start with the first about our music policy. We are not interested in music that already circulates on the open internet. We would like the music to be exclusive and really only intended for our label. We regularly see artists send a track together to 45 other labels. As if we are at an auction and have to bid. Then we already drop out. You also regularly come across artists who send a track that we want to publish and afterwards hear that they have started working with a different label. It is their right, of course, but it is not respectful. What is also very annoying are artists who do not respond adequately to our emails. This is so important, because you release together and not alone. In some situations this has sometimes led to a delay in a release. Then I'm not happy.

 

What you often see is that artists have not bothered to check our music style. Then you have to disappoint them the first 5 seconds that I listen to their demo. Or most simply drop a link with no further information about themselves or do not post their real name under an email. I personally find that very strange. You don't do that in real life. Then first introduce yourself. I understand that there can be a difference in culture, but these are the basic concepts of how you interact with each other. Of course we also receive very professional emails from artists. Then it is disappointing if the music does not fit with what we are looking for. You always hope for a direct click with the sound of the track.

 

Then we automatically come to question two of what exactly we are looking for. I have already answered it a little in the previous questions, but we are looking for high-quality Deep House tracks, with a bit of groove and a little Dub and especially technically solid productions. If the artist takes a professional attitude from our first communication moment, you will have our full attention.

 

What producers have you had on the label that sum up the style you want best?

There are too many to mention, because everyone has their qualities and sound. We are proud of all our releases and artists, but the two tracks from Forteba 'Aveda' & 'Trender' are totally my taste and of course Anthony Mea - In Deep We Trust. These are the gems of our label so far. But also the music releases of Club Squisito, Emiliano S., Ivan Garci, B&S Concept and new talents like Brenden Walsh or SOulfreqtion, always bring quality. But again, there are too many to list.

 

How do you go through demos, how do you like people to send them, what’s your process?

Listening to new demo material is one thing, but it's not just about the music. We always want to know a bit more about the artist and if this information is not included in the demo, I and Stefano usually find out via the internet. We only do that if the demo appeals to us.

 

I think it is important that Stefano also supports the choice to publish a track, but sometimes it is not always possible to discuss this with each other. He has a family and I have a family with all the obligations that come with it. Artists usually receive a reply from us within a day and sometimes within three days. We think this is important, because good cooperation is based on trust. You increase confidence by not having artists wait too long for an answer. I find an answer within three days acceptable. Preferably even faster.

 

The second thing we think is important is that you always show the artist respect. You can do that by answering his email. Most labels are silent, even the biggest ones. I find this unprofessional. Also the other way around. I've had conflicts with a famous artist once, because I didn't consider it professional that he had ignored multiple offers for a release. When I dropped that, I didn't get a friendly message back from him. Let me say disrespectful. Now I hadn't been tactical either, I must admit honestly, but I've never been as rude as he was. That was another learning moment.

 

Our advice top 10 for sending a demo:

 

01. check the sound of the label.

 

02. provide a well-mixed track in good sound quality.

 

03. Send the demo exclusively, so not to dozens of other labels.

 

04. Send Soundcloud links in private. This is always better than downloading demos related to virus risks. Make sure it looks neat with the necessary info.

 

05. Send a short biography and discography.

 

06. Send a photo of yourself that contributes to the music, for example one that was taken while playing at a party or a professional other photo where you are holding a vinyl.

 

07. Always include your own name with motivation why you have chosen the label.

 

08. Send multiple tracks, because then you have a better chance. Releasing an Ep is more interesting for most labels than a Single where remix artists have to be organized.

 

09. Be polite, respectful and say something nice about the label. Compliments always work.

 

10. Never wait too long to reply to emails you've received from labels. It says a lot about your involvement and how serious you are with music. Also for confidence towards a label.

 

How long do you plan between signing a track and release?

This is minimal six months. Our contract states that the music will be published within six months after signing it. Of course we want to prevent artists from having to wait a long time for their release, but sometimes it is no different. We only publish once a month to pay more attention to it. In December we will publish our 'Batavia's Treasure' compilation album series of these twelve months. As an extra we can release a special for which there is no fixed month and we have recently started a new series called 'Spring Tide'. We did this to provide a platform for the many demos that we could no longer publish regularly. We expect the first release in 2020.

 

How do you go about creating the artwork?

Every year we try to make a new cover art, but we use the same concept for a year. Our logo is central to this, because we strongly believe that logo recognition is better for sales because people can connect with it. If you give a different cover art every release, that idea will be lost. The concept we use every year is also easier than coming up with a new design every time. Respect for the labels that do, because for an artist that is of course much more personal. Because we run the label next to our normal lives, it just saves a lot of time that we don't have. So it is a conscious choice.

 

Do you work with artists to help them develop their brand/audience?

Every now and then we give artists that extra support, even if it is not directly for our label. For example, I designed a personal logo for an artist because he asked for my help. I had time for that and I made a nice logo for him. I also help artists send a test master for a project they are working on that was not intended for Batavia Records or giving them honest feedback. Artists also receive substantial discounts from us to master their work.

 

We try to support them on their posts on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram and other social media. Of course this does not always work, because that would be a day job. But we try to do this as much as possible. We notice that especially beginning artists after a first release on our label, come back very quickly. This is mainly due to the confidential nature. We encourage these artists to have their work published by other labels. Not only to experience the difference with us, but especially to give their brand more exposure. Doing remixes helps a lot with this. Because you will also appear on the portfolio of other artists who also have their own network. It can go fast with your career. We have seen this with, for example, Brenden Walsh and Col Lawton. But they mainly owe that to themselves, because you have to do it yourself eventually.

 

I sometimes compare it with top sport. Talent alone is not enough, you will also need the right motivation and perseverance to move forward. You have to believe in it and make sure you have the right people around you who can take care of that. This also includes a bit of luck, but by not doing anything you do not enforce it.

 

What’s your view on artists albums?

Wouldn't really know what my opinion of that should be. In my view, an artist's album should be his life's work. Let's say he shows his different facets within the genre and shows his maximum skills. It is not easy to make an good balanced album, it really takes a lot of time. At least if you really want to do it right.

 

Personally I am in favor of albums, but my expectations are higher than a regular Ep. Ultimately it is of course about the music, but with a album I expect that little bit extra from an artist on different facets within the music genre he stands for.

 

What’s been the most successful release to date and your personal favourite?

This is a trick question haha. What do you refer to success? By the number of sales, or whether a track is in a top 10 of Beatport or Traxsource? Perhaps a nice publication has been published about a release. If I had these three criteria I would say 'Batavia's Treasure' series. Not only has it generated the highest sales, but also in terms of appreciation and publication the compilation album is doing very well. I am most proud of that. Also because it is a lot of work every time and it takes effort to get this done.

 

With 'Batavia's Treasure, Vol.3', for example, I had to conclude 14 contracts. That also means that you have to manage the release with 14 artists. That is more than the number of players that are on the field during football. You have to keep all this tight in a timeline, without putting pressure on the artists. Be clear to people and what to expect. Especially to avoid disappointments and to avoid interference in communication. That is why communication is so important and that is why the attitude of artists is so important. You can only achieve this together.

 

What do you do around a release - promotion etc?

Before the release is actually for sale, we start the promo campaign two weeks in advance. I already have contact with several radio stations such as D3EP radio Network, with Jon Manley playing an early copy in his show Houseworx. We also have close contact with Mark Mac from 'the Sounds Collective' which can be heard on Deep House Radio (DHR) and on Soundcloud.

Our PR man Marc Irik is also active on DHR and has his own podcast on Mixcloud and arranges guest mixes for us. At the beginning of 2019 we were approached by Miss Luna from Ibiza Live Radio with the question whether Stefano and I would be able to play our sound in a nice mix for an hour every month. And that on Sunday evening primetime between 10 - 11 pm CET. We do this under the same name as our success series 'Batavia's Treasure'. The nice thing about this radio station is that it is run by women and can be heard in the FM ether on the island itself. In the even month you can expect a quality mix from Steve Mag (Stefano Maguolo) and the other month from ZaVen (my person). After the broadcast you can listen to these mixes as a podcast on our Soundcloud page.

 

Then the promo is sent via Email to more than 200 contacts in a nice format in which they can give feedback on the release. We save this feedback and send it to our artists in a nice overview. We will send this after one week and again after two weeks. For an artist, getting feedback after work that you have provided is nice to read. Even though it can be very critical.

 

One time we have more feedback than another time. That is not due to the release, but not everyone looks at promos that come in. Of course we are not the only label that sends promos and sometimes your mailbox is full. So I can imagine that people don't like it. But we cannot complain. We have a lot of support from many artists, other labels, radio stations and a number of magazines. But we also depend on what their choices are. The world is not only made up of Batavia Records. There are of course even more excellent record companies.

 

We also work a lot in personal contact with people who want to run our promotions. We have built this up quietly, so that people can get used to our sound. In many cases, this has turned into appreciation and then it all goes more smoothly. I am not alone at Batavia Records, but together with Stefano we do this with many other people who believe in what we are trying to do.

 

Do you have merchandise?

We have a lingerie line with our logo on the covered parts. Nah, I'm kidding, of course haha. Every now and then we have a t-shirt promotion on sale with our logo on it. You can then order it online. The strange thing is that there is a reasonable demand for it. At the moment I set up this promotion, hardly anything is sold. So I bought t-shirts myself and gave them away to people who have been important to Batavia Records.

 

What’s the labels point of view on retail sales vs streaming revenue?

Of course a lot has changed in the past 25 years. From cassette tapes and vinyl to compact disc, mini disc, blue ray to digital music. The digital age is simply the future. You cannot ignore it. This has brought many opportunities for record companies that are digital, such as Batavia Records.

 

I can imagine that record companies that are working longer will find this a less pleasant development. You can distinguish yourself less than before. Back then you were dealing with the real printing of covers, a more expensive way of recording and the distribution thereof. That has become a lot easier digitally. This also has a disadvantage, because much poorer quality music has come onto the market. Anyone can start a label to publish their own work without a proper master. There are plenty of examples of that. Especially at Bandcamp.

 

I'm a big believer in streaming music through providers like Spotify and iTunes. We immediately took advantage of this by making the release the first on these platforms. I am a great believer in streaming services because it helps you tackle the illegal download. As long as you can download tracks, it remains susceptible to illegal copying. There are still steps to be made within streaming music. For example, it was not yet possible to search by record company and put it under your favorites. There are even more restrictions. If a streaming service could be more integrated in, for example, Pioneer CDJs, the use of USB sticks becomes unnecessary and you get much less copied music.

 

Streaming services for music is a better development than retail download services like Beatport and Traxsource do for a fee. Ultimately, one sold track can be copied indefinitely. In countries that do not have the known currencies Euro, Dollar or Pound as means of payment, local music shops are created that sell copies in this way. Artists and record companies like us are missing out on a lot of income. We hardly make any money from what we do when you see how much time, energy and money we put into the label.

So yes, more streaming and no more downloads.

 

What’s the hardest thing you find with releases?

Consistently delivering quality music, because you depend on which product producers come to you. That is sometimes of lesser quality and sometimes of high quality. The last thing I want is for me or Stefano to fill in gaps because we didn't get anything interesting. Fortunately, we have not yet experienced this, but in 2019 we had a moment like this. Now we are already completely full in 2020. Only we still have our edition of 'Batavia's Treasure, Vol.4'. We will be working on this around the summer.

 

What I also find difficult is that it has become too busy. I sometimes play chess on 7 boards at the same time. I am not stressed yet, but it does affect my pleasure. Then I don't always feel like it and would like to put it aside. Eventually I find the courage to continue. This was also decisive for myself that I could no longer do this alone. By coincidence I came into contact with Stefano to organize something in Amsterdam during ADE. I had invited him to my home with his wife and it clicked immediately. Since then we have become good friends and after ADE I made him a proposal to join. I was very happy that he answered yes. We did a number of online sessions to teach him, but he quickly understood. We understand each other very well because we share the same norms and values. Together we could handle the label much better, and grow further.

 

How often do you have a release?

Once a month, as previously read. Conscious choice. More attention for the artist and the release, which also makes it fun to be able to continue doing this. I personally have nothing at all with mass releases. With some labels it almost becomes spam. It doesn't improve the quality either. Another reason is our families. It's not our real job, but something to do next to it. Purely because we like it. Hobby moderate, but in a professional way. You want to make something of it. If you are going to do something, do it right or don't. That is my slogan. Another slogan I have when things not running smoothly is 'accept and move on',

 

In addition to the regular releases, we also have a special edition and our compilation album. This year a compilation album will be added, but put together differently. Not because we wanted to release more, but because of the enormous range we received. Offer that was good for a release.

 

Do you use a promo list and what do you get out of it?

Yes, we use a promo list. The result of a promo list is unpredictable. One time you have more publicity with it than another campaign. It depends on how the recipients of the promo value the music, but also how busy they are with promos. As mentioned earlier in this interview, some get so many promos that it becomes a day's work to go through it all. I have already unsubscribed myself from many promo lists, so you can miss something interesting. I think it works the same with others. Also depends on your role in music. For a weekly radio show or as a club DJ you need a lot of (new) music than someone who is less active in this.

 

It always delivers something. Often from an unexpected angle. That is why we continue to do this, but we do not just stick to this way of promoting. I've achieved more publicity by making personal contact with DJs active on major platforms than waiting for the feedback from our promo's. Often friendships also develop through this personal approach and it takes less effort to make your sound heard through these channels. I had devised this strategy before I started the label and is still successful.

 

Can people apply to get on the list?

If you are not an artist on our label, we would like to know what you can do for us before we send you free promos. We always ask for a link where we can see what you are doing and if it is something that benefits us as a record company. If you have a interesting platform for  Deep House, we would like to send a promo of our latest releases.

 

Do you use a PR company or the services for that a distributor sometimes offers?

We are regularly approached by PR companies who would like to provide this service for a fee. I often don't trust it. The story is too good to be true. They promise a high number of followers, listeners or higher sales, which is easy to fake digitally. Look at Soundcloud. You can literally buy the number of 'likes' or 'streams' on your track. That is not the way to supposedly be appreciated. I have responded to such an offer from a PR company, but had turned their offer around. That they could buy a promo package from us for a year. Obviously no response received.

 

You will undoubtedly have serious companies in this, but I don't believe in it. I prefer to keep the management in-house.

 

How important to the release is airplay, DJ support, artist self-promotion?

Very important of course. Just like what UM does and why we like to do this interview. You have to take every promotion opportunity. It always makes sense. And there is nothing more fun than talking about your own product or company. When you are asked you are proud and feel appreciated. That is what a person needs to keep his motivation high. That is no different for us.

 

You can never get enough support, because the valuation keeps us going because the earnings in money have lagged considerably. Of course money is not the motivation, but it does help us to make new investments. That still happens out of pocket and a small part of the revenues.

 

How much work do you put into social media promotion or paid advertising on social media?

I really don't know the number of hours I spend on Social Media. That was a lot, but I have reduced it quite a bit in the past year. It made me unhappy and restless. If I didn't do music, I would have stopped Facebook long ago. But it is very useful for my business. You have to imagine that I have contacts with people all over the world. Due to time differences, I receive messages for 24 hours. Sometimes more than 100 messages a day. Also at night my phone keeps ringing on incoming messages. You will go completely crazy if you have to react to it all. Now the phone goes into silent or airplane mode when I go to sleep. On the day I only watch direct messages, but I no longer follow the general messages on Facebook. I am already close to a maximum of 5,000 contacts, so I have to. Perhaps I will close my personal page and only make it for direct friends and family members. Other interested parties can simply be reached via my artist page or label page. I don't do paid advertising on social media, so I have no experience with it.

 

Do you do any events or club nights?

For two years I did a label night during ADE in Amsterdam. Thanks to my friend Rick Glorie this was possible. That was great fun and useful. Not only did I get to know Stefano there, but I also became friends with Anthony Mea. There have been a few artists with whom I have kept in touch.

To continue to do this, a lot of money is needed. Without sponsorship, that is not possible to be able to do this independently. Time also plays a role in this, but also my age. After such an evening I need a long recovery haha.

 

I often get this question and then I usually explain it like this; you always have three directions in the music industry. DJing, producing and running a record company. All three are interconnected but are still completely different parts and techniques. If you want to become good in one part, you have to hand in the other. That is the reason why I have little to no performances myself. For example, I don't have time to go through many parties to keep my network up to date. That does not work because of my daily job, my family, and physical energy. Clearly I have other responsibilities that I cannot abandon.

 

I love performing at festivals or interesting parties, but I have to plan well in advance because of my current work. I was booked in 2020 for a short tour in South Africa this year. I would run at a number of different parties. This had already been postponed in 2019, but can no longer continue due to the Corona crisis. It is physically very difficult for me to make such a journey, but I wanted to do this once and experience it. Who knows it will ever happen again.

 

What releases have you got lined up for the year ahead?

Of course we will keep that quiet for a while, but to give a little bit of openness you can mainly expect new talent with wonderful underground Deep House. As mentioned earlier in this interview, we are starting this year with the 'Spring Tide, Vol.1' series. Exact date of the release is still difficult to say because we have not yet received all the pieces of music. Then we have a special edition that will be released outside the regular releases. I can tell you that it will be my own work with four original Deep House tracks. Furthermore, of course our 'Batavia's Treasure, Vol.4' series that we have to start with. So there are 5 EP's, 2 compilation albums and 1 special releases coming this year. We are full this year and unfortunately cannot accept much more new music.

 

What do you think the big issues ahead are?

What we have encountered for a while is the huge demo offer that we receive via email. Unfortunately, we cannot publish everything we would like, so choices have to be made. In order to create some space for artists, we do not participate in the regular releases ourselves and we have launched 'Spring Tide' idea. But this album also fills up quickly. We have become a popular label and we notice that in everything. The challenge will be the choices. We are getting to the point where we can no longer accept demos. You don't want to say 'no', but we don't have a choice for the moment. One thing is certain, we will stick to the monthly releases and we will not expand that.

 

Where would you most want people to buy the music?

I would like to encourage people to make more use of streaming services such as a Spotify or i-Tunes. This is better than paid downloads because of the sensitivity of illegal copying. But eventually people have to know for themselves where they get their music from. Batavia Records takes more margin with Beatport than with Traxsource, so our releases will be the first to appear on Beatport. And of course on the named streaming services named earlier.

 

Thank you again for this interview and I hope people found it interesting to read about Batavia Records. Keep safe all, warm hugs,

 

Where can people follow the label?

 

More to enjoy:
Banner image of hands flicking through vinyl records. Nightchild Records logo over image and the wording for the feature.
Banner image of hands flicking through vinyl records. Nightchild Records logo over image and the wording for the feature.
Banner image of hands flicking through vinyl records. Nightchild Records logo over image and the wording for the feature.

Batavia Records

Label Profile

 

Anyone who pays close attention to their promo inbox or new labels on the block will have quickly spotted Batavia Records, based in Heiloo (near Amsterdam) when it launched back in 2016. It’s smooth sounds, and reliability for quality releases made it a firm favourite on my mixes and High 5ives show from early on. The label’s main style is Deep House, but they’ve touched on Downtempo Dub, Deep Tech, Chill Out/Electronica along the way too.

 

How did the label come to be - what’s the story of how why you created it?

First of all, thank you for having us on your show and doing this interview.

 

Starting a record company was a new chapter for me. As producer 'ZaVen' I officially started releasing at the end of 2014 and after that actually became history. I never thought it would be so successful, because I thought it would be fun to release an official record myself under an existing record company. That has now become more than 200 spread over more than 60 labels.

 

You gain a lot of experience with that and especially how I would do things differently with my own record company. That is going to bring that idea to life in your head and I started to investigate it seriously. I took another year and a half to do that, because the last thing you want to do is to run into financial problems or bother with contracts. I had some good support from Igor Gonya (Lisztomania Records, Sundries and Mole Records) who really helped me during this process. I will always remember his help and I am very grateful for that. This is a classic example that music connects people.

 

Actually I challenged myself if I would be able to start a successful record company. It is of course easy to comment on others from the sidelines. Now that I have grown with Batavia Records for four years together with my partner Stefano Maguolo (Steve Mag / Deepkeen), I now also understand better why record companies had made certain decisions.

 

The name of the label is important of course - one that is easy to remember internationally, with a cool logo attached to it. I wanted to represent my patriotic love and admiration for beautiful old sailing ships. Since the Dutch VOC was the first major multinational in the world between 1602-1800, and their ships sailed all over the world, I saw in this a great resemblance to music. What used to be transported by ship is now via the internet. The Dutch descend from the Batavians. Batavia was the headquarters of the VOC in Asia from 1619 to 1799 and then, until the independence of Indonesia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies.

 

Look, that's what I like. Choose a name with meaning that is connected to your country and has similarities with contemporary music. Just say for yourself, listening Deep House on a classic ship would be great.

 

What were the biggest challenges you had to get to release one?

I find this very difficult. When you are starting out, you should actually be happy that an artist wants to publish his work through you. Luckily I had credits and built up a network as an artist. Without that network it would have been even more difficult. First release was from artist Processing Vessel from USA, whom I have been friends with for a long time. His Sound Vessel Records label, which had previously published my music, already had a large platform. It is therefore important to have a good network. Also to be able to sail on other platforms.

 

Over time, you can gradually professionalize the sound of your label by setting higher requirements that a track must meet. That is not possible if you are starting out. I chose strategy. So artists who already influenced the music scene I wanted to step into. In this case it was Deep House.

 

What was the best piece of advice anyone gave you along the way?

The best advice I got was 'stay close to the sound you want'. Do not remember who said this to me, but this has always stayed with me. You will sometimes receive good quality demos, but which simply does not suit the sound you are looking for. It is very tempting to publish a qualitative track, but you know that it does not fit what you stand for. So advice is not publishing.

 

I've had a commercial track from two Polish producers. A very slick track that could just be a hit and I decided to do it. I was very hesitant. To draw the release more towards Deep House, I had asked very good producers to do a remix. This as a counterpart that if the original did nothing, it would still have a sale. The later choice worked out well. The original didn't sell much, but the remixes were much appreciated. Fortunately, from the beginning I have been honest with the producers from Poland and expressed my doubts, but that I wanted to try it in this form.

 

What makes the label unique?

What makes Batavia Records unique is actually a question that you should ask others, but I do have my thoughts on that. One thing I dare to say is that we have a good communication line with our artists. We put the artist above the label because we think they deserve the credits. Not us. Without music, there is absolutely nothing. Not even labels. That is why it is so important that artists get paid their royalties so that we can enjoy their music longer.

 

Another point that we are unique in is that we dare to mix both newcomers and established artists. We are also known for representing the deeper underground Deep House. This style is not always suitable for danceable DJ sets, but is great for radio sessions. I still did find two unique facts after all.

 

What’s your musical policy - what do you look for?

These are two questions in one. Let me start with the first about our music policy. We are not interested in music that already circulates on the open internet. We would like the music to be exclusive and really only intended for our label. We regularly see artists send a track together to 45 other labels. As if we are at an auction and have to bid. Then we already drop out. You also regularly come across artists who send a track that we want to publish and afterwards hear that they have started working with a different label. It is their right, of course, but it is not respectful. What is also very annoying are artists who do not respond adequately to our emails. This is so important, because you release together and not alone. In some situations this has sometimes led to a delay in a release. Then I'm not happy.

 

What you often see is that artists have not bothered to check our music style. Then you have to disappoint them the first 5 seconds that I listen to their demo. Or most simply drop a link with no further information about themselves or do not post their real name under an email. I personally find that very strange. You don't do that in real life. Then first introduce yourself. I understand that there can be a difference in culture, but these are the basic concepts of how you interact with each other. Of course we also receive very professional emails from artists. Then it is disappointing if the music does not fit with what we are looking for. You always hope for a direct click with the sound of the track.

 

Then we automatically come to question two of what exactly we are looking for. I have already answered it a little in the previous questions, but we are looking for high-quality Deep House tracks, with a bit of groove and a little Dub and especially technically solid productions. If the artist takes a professional attitude from our first communication moment, you will have our full attention.

 

What producers have you had on the label that sum up the style you want best?

There are too many to mention, because everyone has their qualities and sound. We are proud of all our releases and artists, but the two tracks from Forteba 'Aveda' & 'Trender' are totally my taste and of course Anthony Mea - In Deep We Trust. These are the gems of our label so far. But also the music releases of Club Squisito, Emiliano S., Ivan Garci, B&S Concept and new talents like Brenden Walsh or SOulfreqtion, always bring quality. But again, there are too many to list.

 

How do you go through demos, how do you like people to send them, what’s your process?

Listening to new demo material is one thing, but it's not just about the music. We always want to know a bit more about the artist and if this information is not included in the demo, I and Stefano usually find out via the internet. We only do that if the demo appeals to us.

 

I think it is important that Stefano also supports the choice to publish a track, but sometimes it is not always possible to discuss this with each other. He has a family and I have a family with all the obligations that come with it. Artists usually receive a reply from us within a day and sometimes within three days. We think this is important, because good cooperation is based on trust. You increase confidence by not having artists wait too long for an answer. I find an answer within three days acceptable. Preferably even faster.

 

The second thing we think is important is that you always show the artist respect. You can do that by answering his email. Most labels are silent, even the biggest ones. I find this unprofessional. Also the other way around. I've had conflicts with a famous artist once, because I didn't consider it professional that he had ignored multiple offers for a release. When I dropped that, I didn't get a friendly message back from him. Let me say disrespectful. Now I hadn't been tactical either, I must admit honestly, but I've never been as rude as he was. That was another learning moment.

 

Our advice top 10 for sending a demo:

 

01. check the sound of the label.

 

02. provide a well-mixed track in good sound quality.

 

03. Send the demo exclusively, so not to dozens of other labels.

 

04. Send Soundcloud links in private. This is always better than downloading demos related to virus risks. Make sure it looks neat with the necessary info.

 

05. Send a short biography and discography.

 

06. Send a photo of yourself that contributes to the music, for example one that was taken while playing at a party or a professional other photo where you are holding a vinyl.

 

07. Always include your own name with motivation why you have chosen the label.

 

08. Send multiple tracks, because then you have a better chance. Releasing an Ep is more interesting for most labels than a Single where remix artists have to be organized.

 

09. Be polite, respectful and say something nice about the label. Compliments always work.

 

10. Never wait too long to reply to emails you've received from labels. It says a lot about your involvement and how serious you are with music. Also for confidence towards a label.

 

How long do you plan between signing a track and release?

This is minimal six months. Our contract states that the music will be published within six months after signing it. Of course we want to prevent artists from having to wait a long time for their release, but sometimes it is no different. We only publish once a month to pay more attention to it. In December we will publish our 'Batavia's Treasure' compilation album series of these twelve months. As an extra we can release a special for which there is no fixed month and we have recently started a new series called 'Spring Tide'. We did this to provide a platform for the many demos that we could no longer publish regularly. We expect the first release in 2020.

 

How do you go about creating the artwork?

Every year we try to make a new cover art, but we use the same concept for a year. Our logo is central to this, because we strongly believe that logo recognition is better for sales because people can connect with it. If you give a different cover art every release, that idea will be lost. The concept we use every year is also easier than coming up with a new design every time. Respect for the labels that do, because for an artist that is of course much more personal. Because we run the label next to our normal lives, it just saves a lot of time that we don't have. So it is a conscious choice.

 

Do you work with artists to help them develop their brand/audience?

Every now and then we give artists that extra support, even if it is not directly for our label. For example, I designed a personal logo for an artist because he asked for my help. I had time for that and I made a nice logo for him. I also help artists send a test master for a project they are working on that was not intended for Batavia Records or giving them honest feedback. Artists also receive substantial discounts from us to master their work.

 

We try to support them on their posts on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram and other social media. Of course this does not always work, because that would be a day job. But we try to do this as much as possible. We notice that especially beginning artists after a first release on our label, come back very quickly. This is mainly due to the confidential nature. We encourage these artists to have their work published by other labels. Not only to experience the difference with us, but especially to give their brand more exposure. Doing remixes helps a lot with this. Because you will also appear on the portfolio of other artists who also have their own network. It can go fast with your career. We have seen this with, for example, Brenden Walsh and Col Lawton. But they mainly owe that to themselves, because you have to do it yourself eventually.

 

I sometimes compare it with top sport. Talent alone is not enough, you will also need the right motivation and perseverance to move forward. You have to believe in it and make sure you have the right people around you who can take care of that. This also includes a bit of luck, but by not doing anything you do not enforce it.

 

What’s your view on artists albums?

Wouldn't really know what my opinion of that should be. In my view, an artist's album should be his life's work. Let's say he shows his different facets within the genre and shows his maximum skills. It is not easy to make an good balanced album, it really takes a lot of time. At least if you really want to do it right.

 

Personally I am in favor of albums, but my expectations are higher than a regular Ep. Ultimately it is of course about the music, but with a album I expect that little bit extra from an artist on different facets within the music genre he stands for.

 

What’s been the most successful release to date and your personal favourite?

This is a trick question haha. What do you refer to success? By the number of sales, or whether a track is in a top 10 of Beatport or Traxsource? Perhaps a nice publication has been published about a release. If I had these three criteria I would say 'Batavia's Treasure' series. Not only has it generated the highest sales, but also in terms of appreciation and publication the compilation album is doing very well. I am most proud of that. Also because it is a lot of work every time and it takes effort to get this done.

 

With 'Batavia's Treasure, Vol.3', for example, I had to conclude 14 contracts. That also means that you have to manage the release with 14 artists. That is more than the number of players that are on the field during football. You have to keep all this tight in a timeline, without putting pressure on the artists. Be clear to people and what to expect. Especially to avoid disappointments and to avoid interference in communication. That is why communication is so important and that is why the attitude of artists is so important. You can only achieve this together.

 

What do you do around a release - promotion etc?

Before the release is actually for sale, we start the promo campaign two weeks in advance. I already have contact with several radio stations such as D3EP radio Network, with Jon Manley playing an early copy in his show Houseworx. We also have close contact with Mark Mac from 'the Sounds Collective' which can be heard on Deep House Radio (DHR) and on Soundcloud.

Our PR man Marc Irik is also active on DHR and has his own podcast on Mixcloud and arranges guest mixes for us. At the beginning of 2019 we were approached by Miss Luna from Ibiza Live Radio with the question whether Stefano and I would be able to play our sound in a nice mix for an hour every month. And that on Sunday evening primetime between 10 - 11 pm CET. We do this under the same name as our success series 'Batavia's Treasure'. The nice thing about this radio station is that it is run by women and can be heard in the FM ether on the island itself. In the even month you can expect a quality mix from Steve Mag (Stefano Maguolo) and the other month from ZaVen (my person). After the broadcast you can listen to these mixes as a podcast on our Soundcloud page.

 

Then the promo is sent via Email to more than 200 contacts in a nice format in which they can give feedback on the release. We save this feedback and send it to our artists in a nice overview. We will send this after one week and again after two weeks. For an artist, getting feedback after work that you have provided is nice to read. Even though it can be very critical.

 

One time we have more feedback than another time. That is not due to the release, but not everyone looks at promos that come in. Of course we are not the only label that sends promos and sometimes your mailbox is full. So I can imagine that people don't like it. But we cannot complain. We have a lot of support from many artists, other labels, radio stations and a number of magazines. But we also depend on what their choices are. The world is not only made up of Batavia Records. There are of course even more excellent record companies.

 

We also work a lot in personal contact with people who want to run our promotions. We have built this up quietly, so that people can get used to our sound. In many cases, this has turned into appreciation and then it all goes more smoothly. I am not alone at Batavia Records, but together with Stefano we do this with many other people who believe in what we are trying to do.

 

Do you have merchandise?

We have a lingerie line with our logo on the covered parts. Nah, I'm kidding, of course haha. Every now and then we have a t-shirt promotion on sale with our logo on it. You can then order it online. The strange thing is that there is a reasonable demand for it. At the moment I set up this promotion, hardly anything is sold. So I bought t-shirts myself and gave them away to people who have been important to Batavia Records.

 

What’s the labels point of view on retail sales vs streaming revenue?

Of course a lot has changed in the past 25 years. From cassette tapes and vinyl to compact disc, mini disc, blue ray to digital music. The digital age is simply the future. You cannot ignore it. This has brought many opportunities for record companies that are digital, such as Batavia Records.

 

I can imagine that record companies that are working longer will find this a less pleasant development. You can distinguish yourself less than before. Back then you were dealing with the real printing of covers, a more expensive way of recording and the distribution thereof. That has become a lot easier digitally. This also has a disadvantage, because much poorer quality music has come onto the market. Anyone can start a label to publish their own work without a proper master. There are plenty of examples of that. Especially at Bandcamp.

 

I'm a big believer in streaming music through providers like Spotify and iTunes. We immediately took advantage of this by making the release the first on these platforms. I am a great believer in streaming services because it helps you tackle the illegal download. As long as you can download tracks, it remains susceptible to illegal copying. There are still steps to be made within streaming music. For example, it was not yet possible to search by record company and put it under your favorites. There are even more restrictions. If a streaming service could be more integrated in, for example, Pioneer CDJs, the use of USB sticks becomes unnecessary and you get much less copied music.

 

Streaming services for music is a better development than retail download services like Beatport and Traxsource do for a fee. Ultimately, one sold track can be copied indefinitely. In countries that do not have the known currencies Euro, Dollar or Pound as means of payment, local music shops are created that sell copies in this way. Artists and record companies like us are missing out on a lot of income. We hardly make any money from what we do when you see how much time, energy and money we put into the label.

So yes, more streaming and no more downloads.

 

What’s the hardest thing you find with releases?

Consistently delivering quality music, because you depend on which product producers come to you. That is sometimes of lesser quality and sometimes of high quality. The last thing I want is for me or Stefano to fill in gaps because we didn't get anything interesting. Fortunately, we have not yet experienced this, but in 2019 we had a moment like this. Now we are already completely full in 2020. Only we still have our edition of 'Batavia's Treasure, Vol.4'. We will be working on this around the summer.

 

What I also find difficult is that it has become too busy. I sometimes play chess on 7 boards at the same time. I am not stressed yet, but it does affect my pleasure. Then I don't always feel like it and would like to put it aside. Eventually I find the courage to continue. This was also decisive for myself that I could no longer do this alone. By coincidence I came into contact with Stefano to organize something in Amsterdam during ADE. I had invited him to my home with his wife and it clicked immediately. Since then we have become good friends and after ADE I made him a proposal to join. I was very happy that he answered yes. We did a number of online sessions to teach him, but he quickly understood. We understand each other very well because we share the same norms and values. Together we could handle the label much better, and grow further.

 

How often do you have a release?

Once a month, as previously read. Conscious choice. More attention for the artist and the release, which also makes it fun to be able to continue doing this. I personally have nothing at all with mass releases. With some labels it almost becomes spam. It doesn't improve the quality either. Another reason is our families. It's not our real job, but something to do next to it. Purely because we like it. Hobby moderate, but in a professional way. You want to make something of it. If you are going to do something, do it right or don't. That is my slogan. Another slogan I have when things not running smoothly is 'accept and move on',

 

In addition to the regular releases, we also have a special edition and our compilation album. This year a compilation album will be added, but put together differently. Not because we wanted to release more, but because of the enormous range we received. Offer that was good for a release.

 

Do you use a promo list and what do you get out of it?

Yes, we use a promo list. The result of a promo list is unpredictable. One time you have more publicity with it than another campaign. It depends on how the recipients of the promo value the music, but also how busy they are with promos. As mentioned earlier in this interview, some get so many promos that it becomes a day's work to go through it all. I have already unsubscribed myself from many promo lists, so you can miss something interesting. I think it works the same with others. Also depends on your role in music. For a weekly radio show or as a club DJ you need a lot of (new) music than someone who is less active in this.

 

It always delivers something. Often from an unexpected angle. That is why we continue to do this, but we do not just stick to this way of promoting. I've achieved more publicity by making personal contact with DJs active on major platforms than waiting for the feedback from our promo's. Often friendships also develop through this personal approach and it takes less effort to make your sound heard through these channels. I had devised this strategy before I started the label and is still successful.

 

Can people apply to get on the list?

If you are not an artist on our label, we would like to know what you can do for us before we send you free promos. We always ask for a link where we can see what you are doing and if it is something that benefits us as a record company. If you have a interesting platform for  Deep House, we would like to send a promo of our latest releases.

 

Do you use a PR company or the services for that a distributor sometimes offers?

We are regularly approached by PR companies who would like to provide this service for a fee. I often don't trust it. The story is too good to be true. They promise a high number of followers, listeners or higher sales, which is easy to fake digitally. Look at Soundcloud. You can literally buy the number of 'likes' or 'streams' on your track. That is not the way to supposedly be appreciated. I have responded to such an offer from a PR company, but had turned their offer around. That they could buy a promo package from us for a year. Obviously no response received.

 

You will undoubtedly have serious companies in this, but I don't believe in it. I prefer to keep the management in-house.

 

How important to the release is airplay, DJ support, artist self-promotion?

Very important of course. Just like what UM does and why we like to do this interview. You have to take every promotion opportunity. It always makes sense. And there is nothing more fun than talking about your own product or company. When you are asked you are proud and feel appreciated. That is what a person needs to keep his motivation high. That is no different for us.

 

You can never get enough support, because the valuation keeps us going because the earnings in money have lagged considerably. Of course money is not the motivation, but it does help us to make new investments. That still happens out of pocket and a small part of the revenues.

 

How much work do you put into social media promotion or paid advertising on social media?

I really don't know the number of hours I spend on Social Media. That was a lot, but I have reduced it quite a bit in the past year. It made me unhappy and restless. If I didn't do music, I would have stopped Facebook long ago. But it is very useful for my business. You have to imagine that I have contacts with people all over the world. Due to time differences, I receive messages for 24 hours. Sometimes more than 100 messages a day. Also at night my phone keeps ringing on incoming messages. You will go completely crazy if you have to react to it all. Now the phone goes into silent or airplane mode when I go to sleep. On the day I only watch direct messages, but I no longer follow the general messages on Facebook. I am already close to a maximum of 5,000 contacts, so I have to. Perhaps I will close my personal page and only make it for direct friends and family members. Other interested parties can simply be reached via my artist page or label page. I don't do paid advertising on social media, so I have no experience with it.

 

Do you do any events or club nights?

For two years I did a label night during ADE in Amsterdam. Thanks to my friend Rick Glorie this was possible. That was great fun and useful. Not only did I get to know Stefano there, but I also became friends with Anthony Mea. There have been a few artists with whom I have kept in touch.

To continue to do this, a lot of money is needed. Without sponsorship, that is not possible to be able to do this independently. Time also plays a role in this, but also my age. After such an evening I need a long recovery haha.

 

I often get this question and then I usually explain it like this; you always have three directions in the music industry. DJing, producing and running a record company. All three are interconnected but are still completely different parts and techniques. If you want to become good in one part, you have to hand in the other. That is the reason why I have little to no performances myself. For example, I don't have time to go through many parties to keep my network up to date. That does not work because of my daily job, my family, and physical energy. Clearly I have other responsibilities that I cannot abandon.

 

I love performing at festivals or interesting parties, but I have to plan well in advance because of my current work. I was booked in 2020 for a short tour in South Africa this year. I would run at a number of different parties. This had already been postponed in 2019, but can no longer continue due to the Corona crisis. It is physically very difficult for me to make such a journey, but I wanted to do this once and experience it. Who knows it will ever happen again.

 

What releases have you got lined up for the year ahead?

Of course we will keep that quiet for a while, but to give a little bit of openness you can mainly expect new talent with wonderful underground Deep House. As mentioned earlier in this interview, we are starting this year with the 'Spring Tide, Vol.1' series. Exact date of the release is still difficult to say because we have not yet received all the pieces of music. Then we have a special edition that will be released outside the regular releases. I can tell you that it will be my own work with four original Deep House tracks. Furthermore, of course our 'Batavia's Treasure, Vol.4' series that we have to start with. So there are 5 EP's, 2 compilation albums and 1 special releases coming this year. We are full this year and unfortunately cannot accept much more new music.

 

What do you think the big issues ahead are?

What we have encountered for a while is the huge demo offer that we receive via email. Unfortunately, we cannot publish everything we would like, so choices have to be made. In order to create some space for artists, we do not participate in the regular releases ourselves and we have launched 'Spring Tide' idea. But this album also fills up quickly. We have become a popular label and we notice that in everything. The challenge will be the choices. We are getting to the point where we can no longer accept demos. You don't want to say 'no', but we don't have a choice for the moment. One thing is certain, we will stick to the monthly releases and we will not expand that.

 

Where would you most want people to buy the music?

I would like to encourage people to make more use of streaming services such as a Spotify or i-Tunes. This is better than paid downloads because of the sensitivity of illegal copying. But eventually people have to know for themselves where they get their music from. Batavia Records takes more margin with Beatport than with Traxsource, so our releases will be the first to appear on Beatport. And of course on the named streaming services named earlier.

 

Thank you again for this interview and I hope people found it interesting to read about Batavia Records. Keep safe all, warm hugs,

 

Where can people follow the label?

 

Banner image of hands flicking through vinyl records. Nightchild Records logo over image and the wording for the feature.
Banner image of hands flicking through vinyl records. Nightchild Records logo over image and the wording for the feature.
Banner image of hands flicking through vinyl records. Nightchild Records logo over image and the wording for the feature.