We’re continuing our series of profiles on labels that use TuneCore, with a Q&A with Mark Orr of LAB Records. Based out of Manchester, UK, LAB Records is an independent label currently working with nine artists: Young Kato, Charlee Drew, Kid British, Portia Conn, Katie Sky, Hellogoodbye, Adam Barnes, Cartel, and The Summer Set. Check out our conversation with co-founder Orr, in which he talks about how LAB went from ‘hobby’ to ‘label,’ using sales information to determine marketing push, and more.
Can you describe your label (genre, number of artists signed, how long you’ve been operating, etc…) ?
Our label, LAB Records is based out of Manchester, UK, and we currently have 9 active artists. Some are licenses for the European territory (Cartel, The Summer Set), while others are on worldwide deals (Young Kato, Adam Barnes & Katie Sky). We’ve been operating officially for 5 years, but made the transition from hobby to business just under 3 years ago.
How did you get your label up and running?
The idea of LAB as a collective first started with us putting on gigs in a small town in the North of England. The nights were totally different to anything that was going on there at the time, and as a result we grew a group of 200-300 regulars. Many of the bands we were putting on were unsigned or had endured a bad experience with a label, so it seemed like a natural step to help them out, put out a CD.
For the first couple of years it was a complete hobby run out of my dorm room at University, but we managed to sell some records and started to work with artists who had serious management. From there, we gained our first investment and the hobby was suddenly a legitimate business.
What does TuneCore provide for you as a label?
Complete flexibility. We have worked with several distributors over here and TuneCore has delivered better service and more store features than any of them to date—without taking a 20% cut of our royalty cheque.
How do you use the monthly sales information in your account?
The most interesting point right now is the shift in emphasis towards some of the streaming services. It’s interesting to see which stores other than iTunes are working for us—just recently it’s been Spotify and Amazon.
Are the weekly trending reports in your account of value to you?
Obviously this just allows us to see what is hot over any particular seven days, and we can adjust our marketing push and spend accordingly. For example, if a particular release has seen a dip in sales, a flash sale can give it a new lease of life.
When one of your artists has a new release coming out, what do you do to promote the release, and what do you expect the artist to do?
It’s our job to get all of our ducks in a row–music video, mailing list, tour, online and radio PR—and on the artist side they tend to look after the social media, running Twitter contests, hosting uStreams and generally getting the fanbase excited for the new record. At that point more than any other it’s a sort of ‘all hands on deck’ mentality—since clearly we don’t have a 50+ strong team a major label would.
What are the most important tips you would give to a DIY artist trying to achieve his/her goals (whether it be getting signed to a label or not)?
I would say to work hard and really try to better yourself from release-to-release, or video-to-video. We’ve released what I believe are incredible records that haven’t necessarily been a success in terms of units sold, but if an artist is true to him/herself and the music connects with the fanbase (and lets the artist hopefully pay some of the bills!) then that’s still an achievement for me.
More on LAB Records @ labrecs.com
Coming up next… on Friday, October 26th we interview Dré McKenzie of G UNIT/G NOTE RECORDS