Music-lover, music-maker, taste-maker. This is the journey of everyone in this article, who followed their passion to release their own music, and then to go one step further to curate and release music made by others – and now find themselves as the head of industry-admired record labels.
Notable Liveschool fam who’ve gone on to establish and grow their record label and personal brands include DJ Plead (Sumac Records), Angus Gruzman (Multi Culti), Doug Wright (Body Promise), Simon Scruby & Aron Chiarella (Friday Records), Laurence Viegas (Soul Spill Recordings), Nina Las Vegas (NLV Records) and Andy Garvey (Pure Space).
– Record label artwork in same order below –
There are definitely highs and lows to the music business side of things, with a big emphasis on building strong relationships. That moment when you decide to start a label needs to be determined by something externally as Nina Las Vegas, owner of NLV records explains.
“I started developing NLV Records as I was planning to leave Triple J. There were so many cool club songs that were coming directly to me from artists without a label and I wanted to build a community around those songs and creators“.
On the other hand, carving ones own path is what drove Simon & Aaron of Friday Records passion, with Simon noting; “We found we were spending a lot of time sending demos and waiting for labels to reply (or not as the case may be). We wanted to focus our time on what we loved, which was producing music and not chasing labels”.
Behind the label, the brand, the logo – is a personal connectedness. Many of these were founded in, and have resulted in long lasting connections behind the scenes. Laurence from Soul Spill recordings reflects on his journey positively by saying,
“We’ve met so many amazing people. People we now call family. We like to give back to the industry in whatever way we can, whether it’s supporting artists, providing advice and feedback, or plugging other artists and events. It certainly has opened a lot of doors for us as artists. It’s also so rewarding hearing or seeing online Friday Records releases getting played out”.
As is in any business in any industry, there’s a level of not so glamorous administration that must be done to keep all the financial records, contracts and more in good order. On a day to day level of running a label, Angus from Multi Culti says that there’s nothing better than “being your own boss”, before quickly adding “- it’s also the worst part”. This thing ain’t gonna run itself – so you’ve got to be prepared to put the energy in to make sure everything is organised keeps ticking-over. Doug Wright of Body Promise has some reassurance for any startups currently feeling overwhelmed: “Once the systems for a label are in place each subsequent release gets smoother.”
The music industry as a whole, is a fast moving beast with the introduction of new streaming platforms, features and trends happening daily. Nina Las Vegas tells us in regards to steering a labels vision, “Music and the way we release music is constantly changing. Every 6 months is different. With that in mind, and making sure the artist’s interest first is always going to a learning experience. We’ve made mistakes, rushed releases, been too slow on some things and spent a lot of money when we didn’t have too. NLV Records is basically a start up, so there have been some lows that come with the (massive) highs!”
The launch of streaming services has created a fertile platform to not only work with passionate artist, but also to create a revenue stream that provides on-going passive income for labels. This has opened the door for sub genres to flourish more than ever. Take for instance, Andy Garvey and her label Pure Space Records. Andy has concentrated her labels releases on a particular style of techno by releasing on selected streaming platforms + selling limited runs of vinyls. This has created a unique demand for the label’s releases that fans can tap into globally.
Another example of finding their own space in the music market is Sumac Records, run by Thomas McAlister, Jarred Beeler, Logic1000 and Jon Watts. Rather than looking at purely releasing music, the label has also created a compilation of arpeggio samples made with a variety of software synthesisers. In turn, they’ve created something to tap into the creative market for other producers to use for acid style house music.