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

Gents & Dandy's Records

Label Profile

 

Gents & Dandy’s Records is one of those labels that I often see on my feed, its owner, Bram De Bruyn is a rare type of label boss - he openly talks about sales, what platforms are successful, what he’s doing to build the label. The label itself began back in 2014 so has been there through the big changes in the industry has faced with the shift from sales to streams and the diminishing access to hard built social media audiences.

 

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

The label was initially set up out of frustration on sending my own demos around to other labels and hardly getting any replies or even simple plays/listens. As a hardcore music addict or vinyl collector, I didn’t, or better said, did not want to understand why it’s so hard to listen to music and send a reply. Even if the reply is just a simple one-liner. It would take someone just 5 mins or even less to listen and reply.

 

 

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

Finding the right distributor proved time-consuming. Mailing everyone, waiting for answers, then comparing them all next to each other. There are pro and cons to everything. When launching I was looking to get accepted by all the known retailers. With Beatport being the hardest to get accepted, I decided to go with Proton. They had a deal with Beatport for all their labels, so doing business with them would raise my chances of getting accepted at that store significantly.

 

While researching distros, I worked on a release schedule, aiming to get 5 releases completely done as I knew this was a thing distributors were keen on. Create a logo, set up socials etc... I also opted to get an established artist on board for the very first release. I’m a massive Alex Agore fan, got in touch with him and signed 4 tracks. He’s a nice guy, liked my idea and the rest is history :)

 

What was the best piece of advice anyone gave you?

Hmmm, I think this one goes to my mom or dad. I was brought up with these values: ‘Stay humble and professional at all times, even when shit hits the fan. Be open to try new stuff, and take calculated risks. Don’t blow up any bridges… as you might need them later on down the road. Yeah, that’s about it.

 

What makes the label unique?

Honestly, I have no idea. I find it hard to look at my own label from another angle. It’s all about the music for me. Not the number of followers/likes, nor the popularity of an artist. I don’t follow trends, the label is just a reflection of my own taste. And that’s pretty broad.

 

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

Good music :) I can appreciate lots of flavours of house music. From soulful to deep back to disco and nudisco but also the more jackin, filter type house cuts. I’ve always been a DJ that likes to play ‘across the board’ and this is reflected in my taste and as such the label. My ‘measuring stick’ is pretty simple. With 28 years of collecting music behind me… if a track makes me tap my foot/head starts nodding, or it gives me goosebumps, I’ll be all over it. Some tracks really jump at you. I look for a great groove and feel in everything.

 

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

I’m proud of the list of artists I have worked with over the course of 6 years and the variety I have brought with them and their tracks. Variety is the spice of life, right? Working with class acts like Alex Agore, Sebb Junior, Marc Cotterell, Doug Gomez has been a joy. These guys have mileage/experience and it shows. Then there’s also Cleanfield, The Verticals, Platzdasch, Max Telaer, Armless Kid and Harrison BDP, and countless others. The latter two have since signed on bigger labels and started touring. Glad I was part of their career path in some way. All guys I love to work with or have a chat with every now and then. All I want is great sounding house music, and to have that, the track just needs that irresistible groove.

 

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

My time is limited, as I do have a full-time job, and a family to support with two daughters (14 & 18yo at the moment). Running two labels and a bi-weekly radio show takes a bit of planning. I usually work on music-related things after dinner. From 7 until 11 pm on the daily.

 

Demos should be submitted as private Soundcloud links to our email. This is the only preferred way. I listen to demos once a week. I’m very fortunate to receive a shitload of demos every week for both labels. In between 5 to 20 for per label. I basically listen to everything that gets sent and I reply too. When it’s a poorly aimed demo, usually the listening falls back to quickly skimming through the track and declining it on mail. When it’s music I like, I listen to it on repeat a couple of times, or put it on a usb stick or a cloud account. Then listen to it while driving to work. If it also translates well in the car it’s a go!

 

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

It depends on the situation. The first two years i released a lot less compared to nowadays. 2014 saw 8 releases, 2015 had 15 releases. After that, we decided to do bi-weekly releases with a small break during summer and winter holidays. Whereas the first two years I think there was a 2-month gap between signing and releasing, there now is like 6 months in between. Doing bi-weekly requires lots of content to get signed in advance. I also need to factor in the 5-week lead-up time to every release at the distributor. For some releases, these 6 months can even grow to 8 months although I do try to keep it down as much as I can. Most artists don’t really mind to wait a bit.

 

How do you go about creating the artwork?

Creating artwork is like second nature. I’ve been employed full-time in the graphics industry for the past 24 years, giving me the advantage to do it all myself at no extra cost other than time. I’ve always opted to focus on branding, it’s part of my DNA due to my studies and work experiences. To keep branding consistent and less time/labour intensive I always set out to create a template of something. Whether that’s for the release cover, the Facebook banners, or the video animations I create for each release in after effects. The initial design goes through certain fazes, until it’s fine tuned. Then it’s just grouping things, creating a template that can be reused each time with minimal effort. I do try to link the release with the artwork by means of the picture I use or the colour palette.

 

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

I do give tips free of charge to every artist I work with. Some have it set up real nice while others don’t even have a Facebook page. I try not to force them, but sort of persuade them in setting it up and providing them with content for their release. (release artwork, banners, teaser videos).  It all really helps when both artist and label are pushing things. I’ve also helped numerous other labels and label owners with branding or artwork, but that’s paid work. You get my 24 years of experience on it, and that should be paid.

 

What’s your view on artists albums?

I don’t think albums have as much pull as they used to have. At least not for electronic music, aimed at DJ’s. There’s a tsunami of new music released each week that makes albums less attractive because it takes longer to listen to a promo with 9 tracks or more. I’m not against albums but have not received a request by an artist to release an album. I consider albums more as listening material opposed to music I release targeted to DJ’s and the clubs. A good example of this is Demuja’s just-released album. Nice and varied, lots of different styles on it but more something I’d listen to while lounging at home.

 

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

Our best performing release to date is still Jersey Jam by The Verticals. It was released on our 2nd vinyl release which flopped terribly but then went on to secure a top 10 spot in Traxsource Deep House Top100 for about 2 months, making up for the losses on the vinyl. Anything Thomas makes is always impressive stuff - love his 90s New York house sound - that tickles my eardrums and that I’ll want to put out. He’s not a mass producer at all, but is happy to just release ONLY on my label :) He’s never signed an exclusivity deal with me either. It’s been 4 years since his Jersey Jam release as he was busy making his own sample pack, but he’ll return this year! Proper excited for that.

 

What do you do around a release - promotion etc?

I create promotional assets in the form of banners for Facebook and Twitter. I also create Instagram story vids for each track of the release as well as separate track Instagram feed vids and a combined one (EP style) for Facebook. All of these end with a typical branding style logo and tagline. I have the label websites (WordPress) to post on when the release is out worldwide and add the artist to it with some links. On occasion, I send out a couple of ‘feeler’ type emails to premiere channels I trust, to see if they’re interested. It’s a love/hate affair I have with them though as it’s yet another link in the release chain you’ve kinda got to pamper.

 

Then there’s the promo list. I’ve literally tried various approaches. Through my distributor (Label Worx since 2016), via a dedicated promo service (way too costly to be sustainable) and Mailchimp. We’re back at Mailchimp but with a microscopically small list. It only contains people that have shown support consistently over all the years. It’s bascially the core crew from the early days. New people don’t get added anymore as I think promos have lost a lot of their value. And it’s probably on our planning to just delete promos from the chain. We’ve got a bandcamp subscription set up, that only costs €5/month. And I feel this is the way forward if we plan on surviving and keep releasing music.

 

Do you have merchandise?

Yes, we have our vinyl records, only GENTSLTD01 & GENTSLTD02 still have copies available, and we have a label shirt. I’ve never taken in stock of printed t-shirts and used a print on demand service by Teespring. No financial risks like this, and as a starting label a great thing to have. (I may need to do an update or some sort of variations for the design, it’s been too long).

 

Do you run events or label nights in support of the label?

To this date, we’ve had 2 label showcases during ADE, and the 3rd one is already agreed on for this year’s edition. I’ve put together 2 other nights, in small venues in Belgium but those weren’t too successful. I’d love to get more involved in events, but the current music climate is more techno-oriented where I live. Also doing events takes a lot of time, time that I currently don’t have spare. You have to remember that I run things all by myself. It’s a one-man thing.

 

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

Download sales have been on a constant decline from the day I started the label. This won’t go away anytime soon, in fact, the download’s days are counted. It’s also the reason I keep pushing our Bandcamp a lot. It’s my try to keep the download around a little longer. The sales are made by Dj’s buying the tracks, and that’s our core customer group. Streaming is a whole other beast to tame. The payout per stream is so low, you need to rack up 100K+ to earn something substantial.

 

That said, I’ve seen our streaming revenue grow, and sometimes even double each quarter. As a label, we can’t pitch tracks to editors on Spotify, because labels are non-existent on the platform. They focus on artists, so I make sure to inform each artist that signs with me to get their artist account primed for our release. I supply them with dates that Spotify has ingested their release and urge them to submit it to their editorial playlists. Hoping - together with them - to get selected.

 

What’s the hardest thing you find with getting cut-through for releases?

Releases with multiple remixes have been quite problematic. If you’re on a bi-weekly schedule you can’t keep delaying stuff. Whenever there are remixes planned, I keep that release out of fixed dates/planning for as long as it’s not complete. Releases before or after it - I always make sure that I have normal releases in front or following - serve as a buffer, so I can jiggle them around should the remixes be delayed. It’s good to have ‘backups’ for when the timing is off.

 

How often do you have a release?

We do bi-weekly releases.

 

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

Yes, a microscopically small one. We’ve built it up to 300 DJ’s over the years but culled it at the start of 2019 to 60. Only close contacts or continued supporters that have been with us for 6 years are on it. When using the Label Worx promo you get to enable ‘forced feedback’ and as such can browse what people think of it. I’ve incorporated this through forms on HTML pages which were linked to via a promo email. It just took too much time to constantly wrestle with HTML forms for each release. So decided to drop the feedback and just use Mailchimp to send out trusted contacts the latest. They usually make sure to play it on their shows and gigs and forward us set links or radio playlists. And if I’m dead honest… a ‘Nice’ or ‘Dope’ as feedback doesn’t have that much value...

 

Can people apply to get on the list?

No, sorry, the list is closed for good, and will only lose contacts from now on. It’s on the books to stop sending out promos. We’re in different times today, promos don’t have the same value anymore. You can support us better by subscribing on Bandcamp. €5 for 2 new releases a month (2 weeks in advance of all the other stores) and in any format, lossy or lossless. What’s not to like about that? In fact, it’s kinda baffling that not more people jump on this. It’s a steal.

 

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

I’ve tried it all in these 6 years. Lost a lot of money in 2018 by doing a full year of promo via a dedicated company, using their contacts coupled with mine. The service was great, open rate of promos and feedback really good. Lots of A-listers, but it didn’t translate in more sales. So, the return over the investment wasn’t worth it. Release or artist-specific PR is something else. Also very costly at around €300 per campaign or release. Something I’ve done 3 times on the label, of which 2 times when I was involved on a release as Khillaudio. It’s just not a sustainable thing to do for each release. It’s an investment in your career or label/brand awareness and doesn’t make back the money. It gets you exposure and attention. Both also needed, but more sporadically and selective.

 

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

I still think every little push helps. Airplay/DJ support as the main factors of possible influence. Running a label is fun but also really draining, or demotivating at times. You think you know how to influence something, or think track 1 is gonna sell like hotcakes, and then it doesn’t budge. So irritating when that happens but it’s out of my control. This falls back to the fact that i don’t sign things that don’t fit with my taste. And my taste isn’t always what people want, unfortunately. Artist self-promotion is very much welcomed of course. I prefer to work with artists that get that part. The bundling of powers of both the labels fanbase and the artist. Any joint effort always works better than just the label pushing. Artists not pushing the release just seems/feels weird to me. Over the years you learn as an A&R to do some scouting whilst listening to demos. If it’s an unknown artist to me, i’ll check his set up. His socials, his previous work etc. I wanna get a picture or idea of how committed he is. I’ve never stepped away from signing good music though, even when I can’t find anything of an online presence. If the music clicks, it’s all systems go.

 

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

A hell of a lot of work. As previously already said, I create a broad spectrum of release related assets to aid it’s marketing. Banners and teaser videos. I’m no full blown marketeer, but I’ve always been interested in it since it’s part of my full time job. Video these days has the most pull and reach, so I jumped on it two years ago. I really do everything for the label by myself. From mastering (since 2019) to everything else. Paperwork and contracts, artwork and pr assets, promos, premiere requests, blog posts, maintaining the websites, the server it runs on, animating and about a year ago i decided i should up my marketing knowledge. Dove deep into the world of internet marketing and retargeting. After 6 years and almost zero ad spend, it was time to try and find new ways of driving sales. The tests are ongoing and have had some decent results. Since everything is done inhouse, I'm saving money left and right, and investing it into a monthly ad spend for this year. If it works, good. If it doesn’t i will have wasted some cash but i’m an experience richer :)

 

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

We’re booked in already until after summer, fall even. It’s crazy busy to say the least. I’ve had to raise the level of pickiness by a lot and turn down lots of stuff. We’ve done 24 releases in 2019 and 2020 should be the same. Currently Manuel Sahagun’s Rebuilt EP is out worldwide, Rawdio’s ‘Soft Mood’ is on promo and Freudenthaler & Mystigrix ‘Daydrinking In the French Riviera’ is on pre-order. Then we’ve got material signed from Mogan, Dj With Soul, Addvibe, Platzdasch, Hotevilla, The Verticals, Will Sonic, Quadrakey, Deeleegenz, Jorn Johansen and more… In between all those I will release an EP of my own, as I don’t really have the time and patience to mail out demos these days. A luxury to be able to do that and what i initially started this thing for.

 

What do you think the big issues ahead are for labels?

Surviving the death of the download, with microscopic streaming pay-outs. The business model is out of date and clearly doesn’t work anymore. Even I’m asking myself the same question. How can we keep releasing without going belly up. Or how do I keep afloat. I don’t have the answers. I’m trying hard to focus on our own following by using Bandcamp and guiding them to better prices for lossless files and/or streaming HQ content through a subscription module. It’s not an easy feature for sure. But it seems to be getting on track. Everything takes time to get going, I just hope - and will do anything in my power - to keep this thing going.

 

Where would you most want people to buy the music?

I honestly don’t care where fans buy our music. Just as long as the process is smooth. I want to get the music to them in their own preferred way. Which is why i don’t cut off certain stores or decline streaming of our catalog. I think you need to be present on all stores and streaming portals. It’s why i started using fanlinks including all stores you can find the release on. If you look at them you’ll notice we put Bandcamp up on the top. It’s the store that needs the most work and attention, and we love the direct connection with fans because we have more control. For bandcamp you’re just missing out on the huge fanbase the other established retailers have, it’s just your own. So we nurture it and try to keep it growing. It’s also just another revenue stream.

 

Where can people follow the label?

 

More like this

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.

Gents & Dandy's Records

Label Profile

 

Gents & Dandy’s Records is one of those labels that I often see on my feed, its owner, Bram De Bruyn is a rare type of label boss - he openly talks about sales, what platforms are successful, what he’s doing to build the label. The label itself began back in 2014 so has been there through the big changes in the industry has faced with the shift from sales to streams and the diminishing access to hard built social media audiences.

 

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

The label was initially set up out of frustration on sending my own demos around to other labels and hardly getting any replies or even simple plays/listens. As a hardcore music addict or vinyl collector, I didn’t, or better said, did not want to understand why it’s so hard to listen to music and send a reply. Even if the reply is just a simple one-liner. It would take someone just 5 mins or even less to listen and reply.

 

 

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

Finding the right distributor proved time-consuming. Mailing everyone, waiting for answers, then comparing them all next to each other. There are pro and cons to everything. When launching I was looking to get accepted by all the known retailers. With Beatport being the hardest to get accepted, I decided to go with Proton. They had a deal with Beatport for all their labels, so doing business with them would raise my chances of getting accepted at that store significantly.

 

While researching distros, I worked on a release schedule, aiming to get 5 releases completely done as I knew this was a thing distributors were keen on. Create a logo, set up socials etc... I also opted to get an established artist on board for the very first release. I’m a massive Alex Agore fan, got in touch with him and signed 4 tracks. He’s a nice guy, liked my idea and the rest is history :)

 

What was the best piece of advice anyone gave you?

Hmmm, I think this one goes to my mom or dad. I was brought up with these values: ‘Stay humble and professional at all times, even when shit hits the fan. Be open to try new stuff, and take calculated risks. Don’t blow up any bridges… as you might need them later on down the road. Yeah, that’s about it.

 

What makes the label unique?

Honestly, I have no idea. I find it hard to look at my own label from another angle. It’s all about the music for me. Not the number of followers/likes, nor the popularity of an artist. I don’t follow trends, the label is just a reflection of my own taste. And that’s pretty broad.

 

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

Good music :) I can appreciate lots of flavours of house music. From soulful to deep back to disco and nudisco but also the more jackin, filter type house cuts. I’ve always been a DJ that likes to play ‘across the board’ and this is reflected in my taste and as such the label. My ‘measuring stick’ is pretty simple. With 28 years of collecting music behind me… if a track makes me tap my foot/head starts nodding, or it gives me goosebumps, I’ll be all over it. Some tracks really jump at you. I look for a great groove and feel in everything.

 

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

I’m proud of the list of artists I have worked with over the course of 6 years and the variety I have brought with them and their tracks. Variety is the spice of life, right? Working with class acts like Alex Agore, Sebb Junior, Marc Cotterell, Doug Gomez has been a joy. These guys have mileage/experience and it shows. Then there’s also Cleanfield, The Verticals, Platzdasch, Max Telaer, Armless Kid and Harrison BDP, and countless others. The latter two have since signed on bigger labels and started touring. Glad I was part of their career path in some way. All guys I love to work with or have a chat with every now and then. All I want is great sounding house music, and to have that, the track just needs that irresistible groove.

 

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

My time is limited, as I do have a full-time job, and a family to support with two daughters (14 & 18yo at the moment). Running two labels and a bi-weekly radio show takes a bit of planning. I usually work on music-related things after dinner. From 7 until 11 pm on the daily.

 

Demos should be submitted as private Soundcloud links to our email. This is the only preferred way. I listen to demos once a week. I’m very fortunate to receive a shitload of demos every week for both labels. In between 5 to 20 for per label. I basically listen to everything that gets sent and I reply too. When it’s a poorly aimed demo, usually the listening falls back to quickly skimming through the track and declining it on mail. When it’s music I like, I listen to it on repeat a couple of times, or put it on a usb stick or a cloud account. Then listen to it while driving to work. If it also translates well in the car it’s a go!

 

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

It depends on the situation. The first two years i released a lot less compared to nowadays. 2014 saw 8 releases, 2015 had 15 releases. After that, we decided to do bi-weekly releases with a small break during summer and winter holidays. Whereas the first two years I think there was a 2-month gap between signing and releasing, there now is like 6 months in between. Doing bi-weekly requires lots of content to get signed in advance. I also need to factor in the 5-week lead-up time to every release at the distributor. For some releases, these 6 months can even grow to 8 months although I do try to keep it down as much as I can. Most artists don’t really mind to wait a bit.

 

How do you go about creating the artwork?

Creating artwork is like second nature. I’ve been employed full-time in the graphics industry for the past 24 years, giving me the advantage to do it all myself at no extra cost other than time. I’ve always opted to focus on branding, it’s part of my DNA due to my studies and work experiences. To keep branding consistent and less time/labour intensive I always set out to create a template of something. Whether that’s for the release cover, the Facebook banners, or the video animations I create for each release in after effects. The initial design goes through certain fazes, until it’s fine tuned. Then it’s just grouping things, creating a template that can be reused each time with minimal effort. I do try to link the release with the artwork by means of the picture I use or the colour palette.

 

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

I do give tips free of charge to every artist I work with. Some have it set up real nice while others don’t even have a Facebook page. I try not to force them, but sort of persuade them in setting it up and providing them with content for their release. (release artwork, banners, teaser videos).  It all really helps when both artist and label are pushing things. I’ve also helped numerous other labels and label owners with branding or artwork, but that’s paid work. You get my 24 years of experience on it, and that should be paid.

 

What’s your view on artists albums?

I don’t think albums have as much pull as they used to have. At least not for electronic music, aimed at DJ’s. There’s a tsunami of new music released each week that makes albums less attractive because it takes longer to listen to a promo with 9 tracks or more. I’m not against albums but have not received a request by an artist to release an album. I consider albums more as listening material opposed to music I release targeted to DJ’s and the clubs. A good example of this is Demuja’s just-released album. Nice and varied, lots of different styles on it but more something I’d listen to while lounging at home.

 

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

Our best performing release to date is still Jersey Jam by The Verticals. It was released on our 2nd vinyl release which flopped terribly but then went on to secure a top 10 spot in Traxsource Deep House Top100 for about 2 months, making up for the losses on the vinyl. Anything Thomas makes is always impressive stuff - love his 90s New York house sound - that tickles my eardrums and that I’ll want to put out. He’s not a mass producer at all, but is happy to just release ONLY on my label :) He’s never signed an exclusivity deal with me either. It’s been 4 years since his Jersey Jam release as he was busy making his own sample pack, but he’ll return this year! Proper excited for that.

 

What do you do around a release - promotion etc?

I create promotional assets in the form of banners for Facebook and Twitter. I also create Instagram story vids for each track of the release as well as separate track Instagram feed vids and a combined one (EP style) for Facebook. All of these end with a typical branding style logo and tagline. I have the label websites (WordPress) to post on when the release is out worldwide and add the artist to it with some links. On occasion, I send out a couple of ‘feeler’ type emails to premiere channels I trust, to see if they’re interested. It’s a love/hate affair I have with them though as it’s yet another link in the release chain you’ve kinda got to pamper.

 

Then there’s the promo list. I’ve literally tried various approaches. Through my distributor (Label Worx since 2016), via a dedicated promo service (way too costly to be sustainable) and Mailchimp. We’re back at Mailchimp but with a microscopically small list. It only contains people that have shown support consistently over all the years. It’s bascially the core crew from the early days. New people don’t get added anymore as I think promos have lost a lot of their value. And it’s probably on our planning to just delete promos from the chain. We’ve got a bandcamp subscription set up, that only costs €5/month. And I feel this is the way forward if we plan on surviving and keep releasing music.

 

Do you have merchandise?

Yes, we have our vinyl records, only GENTSLTD01 & GENTSLTD02 still have copies available, and we have a label shirt. I’ve never taken in stock of printed t-shirts and used a print on demand service by Teespring. No financial risks like this, and as a starting label a great thing to have. (I may need to do an update or some sort of variations for the design, it’s been too long).

 

Do you run events or label nights in support of the label?

To this date, we’ve had 2 label showcases during ADE, and the 3rd one is already agreed on for this year’s edition. I’ve put together 2 other nights, in small venues in Belgium but those weren’t too successful. I’d love to get more involved in events, but the current music climate is more techno-oriented where I live. Also doing events takes a lot of time, time that I currently don’t have spare. You have to remember that I run things all by myself. It’s a one-man thing.

 

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

Download sales have been on a constant decline from the day I started the label. This won’t go away anytime soon, in fact, the download’s days are counted. It’s also the reason I keep pushing our Bandcamp a lot. It’s my try to keep the download around a little longer. The sales are made by Dj’s buying the tracks, and that’s our core customer group. Streaming is a whole other beast to tame. The payout per stream is so low, you need to rack up 100K+ to earn something substantial.

 

That said, I’ve seen our streaming revenue grow, and sometimes even double each quarter. As a label, we can’t pitch tracks to editors on Spotify, because labels are non-existent on the platform. They focus on artists, so I make sure to inform each artist that signs with me to get their artist account primed for our release. I supply them with dates that Spotify has ingested their release and urge them to submit it to their editorial playlists. Hoping - together with them - to get selected.

 

What’s the hardest thing you find with getting cut-through for releases?

Releases with multiple remixes have been quite problematic. If you’re on a bi-weekly schedule you can’t keep delaying stuff. Whenever there are remixes planned, I keep that release out of fixed dates/planning for as long as it’s not complete. Releases before or after it - I always make sure that I have normal releases in front or following - serve as a buffer, so I can jiggle them around should the remixes be delayed. It’s good to have ‘backups’ for when the timing is off.

 

How often do you have a release?

We do bi-weekly releases.

 

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

Yes, a microscopically small one. We’ve built it up to 300 DJ’s over the years but culled it at the start of 2019 to 60. Only close contacts or continued supporters that have been with us for 6 years are on it. When using the Label Worx promo you get to enable ‘forced feedback’ and as such can browse what people think of it. I’ve incorporated this through forms on HTML pages which were linked to via a promo email. It just took too much time to constantly wrestle with HTML forms for each release. So decided to drop the feedback and just use Mailchimp to send out trusted contacts the latest. They usually make sure to play it on their shows and gigs and forward us set links or radio playlists. And if I’m dead honest… a ‘Nice’ or ‘Dope’ as feedback doesn’t have that much value...

 

Can people apply to get on the list?

No, sorry, the list is closed for good, and will only lose contacts from now on. It’s on the books to stop sending out promos. We’re in different times today, promos don’t have the same value anymore. You can support us better by subscribing on Bandcamp. €5 for 2 new releases a month (2 weeks in advance of all the other stores) and in any format, lossy or lossless. What’s not to like about that? In fact, it’s kinda baffling that not more people jump on this. It’s a steal.

 

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

I’ve tried it all in these 6 years. Lost a lot of money in 2018 by doing a full year of promo via a dedicated company, using their contacts coupled with mine. The service was great, open rate of promos and feedback really good. Lots of A-listers, but it didn’t translate in more sales. So, the return over the investment wasn’t worth it. Release or artist-specific PR is something else. Also very costly at around €300 per campaign or release. Something I’ve done 3 times on the label, of which 2 times when I was involved on a release as Khillaudio. It’s just not a sustainable thing to do for each release. It’s an investment in your career or label/brand awareness and doesn’t make back the money. It gets you exposure and attention. Both also needed, but more sporadically and selective.

 

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

I still think every little push helps. Airplay/DJ support as the main factors of possible influence. Running a label is fun but also really draining, or demotivating at times. You think you know how to influence something, or think track 1 is gonna sell like hotcakes, and then it doesn’t budge. So irritating when that happens but it’s out of my control. This falls back to the fact that i don’t sign things that don’t fit with my taste. And my taste isn’t always what people want, unfortunately. Artist self-promotion is very much welcomed of course. I prefer to work with artists that get that part. The bundling of powers of both the labels fanbase and the artist. Any joint effort always works better than just the label pushing. Artists not pushing the release just seems/feels weird to me. Over the years you learn as an A&R to do some scouting whilst listening to demos. If it’s an unknown artist to me, i’ll check his set up. His socials, his previous work etc. I wanna get a picture or idea of how committed he is. I’ve never stepped away from signing good music though, even when I can’t find anything of an online presence. If the music clicks, it’s all systems go.

 

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

A hell of a lot of work. As previously already said, I create a broad spectrum of release related assets to aid it’s marketing. Banners and teaser videos. I’m no full blown marketeer, but I’ve always been interested in it since it’s part of my full time job. Video these days has the most pull and reach, so I jumped on it two years ago. I really do everything for the label by myself. From mastering (since 2019) to everything else. Paperwork and contracts, artwork and pr assets, promos, premiere requests, blog posts, maintaining the websites, the server it runs on, animating and about a year ago i decided i should up my marketing knowledge. Dove deep into the world of internet marketing and retargeting. After 6 years and almost zero ad spend, it was time to try and find new ways of driving sales. The tests are ongoing and have had some decent results. Since everything is done inhouse, I'm saving money left and right, and investing it into a monthly ad spend for this year. If it works, good. If it doesn’t i will have wasted some cash but i’m an experience richer :)

 

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

We’re booked in already until after summer, fall even. It’s crazy busy to say the least. I’ve had to raise the level of pickiness by a lot and turn down lots of stuff. We’ve done 24 releases in 2019 and 2020 should be the same. Currently Manuel Sahagun’s Rebuilt EP is out worldwide, Rawdio’s ‘Soft Mood’ is on promo and Freudenthaler & Mystigrix ‘Daydrinking In the French Riviera’ is on pre-order. Then we’ve got material signed from Mogan, Dj With Soul, Addvibe, Platzdasch, Hotevilla, The Verticals, Will Sonic, Quadrakey, Deeleegenz, Jorn Johansen and more… In between all those I will release an EP of my own, as I don’t really have the time and patience to mail out demos these days. A luxury to be able to do that and what i initially started this thing for.

 

What do you think the big issues ahead are for labels?

Surviving the death of the download, with microscopic streaming pay-outs. The business model is out of date and clearly doesn’t work anymore. Even I’m asking myself the same question. How can we keep releasing without going belly up. Or how do I keep afloat. I don’t have the answers. I’m trying hard to focus on our own following by using Bandcamp and guiding them to better prices for lossless files and/or streaming HQ content through a subscription module. It’s not an easy feature for sure. But it seems to be getting on track. Everything takes time to get going, I just hope - and will do anything in my power - to keep this thing going.

 

Where would you most want people to buy the music?

I honestly don’t care where fans buy our music. Just as long as the process is smooth. I want to get the music to them in their own preferred way. Which is why i don’t cut off certain stores or decline streaming of our catalog. I think you need to be present on all stores and streaming portals. It’s why i started using fanlinks including all stores you can find the release on. If you look at them you’ll notice we put Bandcamp up on the top. It’s the store that needs the most work and attention, and we love the direct connection with fans because we have more control. For bandcamp you’re just missing out on the huge fanbase the other established retailers have, it’s just your own. So we nurture it and try to keep it growing. It’s also just another revenue stream.

 

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.