I did it.
After a decade of actual blood, genuine sweat and legitimate tears, of touring like an Arctic tern (look it up), of BRINGING IT on stage EVERY SINGLE TIME, of cancelled shows at an hour’s notice, of pubs and clubs and backseat naps and service station lunches, of “charity” shows to line promoters’ pockets, of gigs that *costed* more to play than I’d make in a week, of Transphobic abuse from plastered punters, of starving myself and cancelling on friends to pay for studio time, of being told ‘you’re the best’ in one breath and ‘maybe you should get a real job’ in another…
… I did it. I signed to a record label. Just like people used to do. Like they still do in the movies.
And not just *any* record label… THE Record Label. Literally, that’s their name. ‘The Record Label’. They’re a young label, which means they’re hungry. And that’s exactly what you want your label to be.
Enthusiasm is worth its weight in platinum. You want a bunch of people with whom you can grow. With whom you can talk and build something remarkable. A label is like a marriage, in that every marriage is different but ultimately they’re all based on either love or money.
The industry is a choppy ocean and a wild west frontier all at the same time. Beware of sharks and cowboys.
‘Label’ doesn’t mean what it used to. Neither does ‘manager’, ‘agent’ or even ‘artist’. These jobs have morphed and mutated as new technologies and new legislation have emerged. Despite the clichés: some agents are *super* hands-on, a lot of labels *don’t* distribute, some managers will lug the gear from show to show… and many many artists do it all themselves. Bottom line is: until you find ‘your team’ and inspire confidence in them to surround you, you need to be your own manager, your own booking agent, solicitor, accountant, PR team, distribution network, press liaison, one-man stage crew… and if you can’t handle that (and nobody expects you to) then you’re pursuing the wrong dream.
You need to be superhuman to do this on your own. Cheats don’t exist – because when they appear, major corporations learn them, illegalize them, repackage them and market them back to us.
For me, the test of a good label is just how much they are willing to lighten your load. And how willing they are to move with the times. Indie labels like mine are free to try new things. We can afford to make mistakes because we’re all in this together. We stand for something more than squeezing profit out of paper-thin margins. We’re neither blinded by the dazzle of the spotlight nor jaded by the industry fog.
We are independent. Which means we are free to choose: to play the game or start a new one.
For me, the only way is indie. Big up to ma boys Dave Ferguson, Paul Visser, Billy Freedom & Dynamitri Nawrot
Jordan Gray | Proud artist of The Record Label