Despite its commercial allure, drum & bass is very much an underground music scene. Avid followers of this beloved genre will be able to judge a particular style of track and instantly associate it with a record label. So when it comes to introducing a new record label to the fray, the objective is obvious – create your own sound. Be an originator and not an imitator.
We decided to pick the brains of Panorama, the founder of Authentic Music, who – after five releases – appear to be succeeding in wriggling their way in to a highly competitive music scene with something new to show.
Often when record labels are set up, it’s because the person responsible has spotted a gap in the market which they feel they can capitalise on. What was the void that you thought Authentic Music could fill?
That's true for businesses in general. You can try to fill a gap, satisfy a certain niche or simply try to be the best within certain criteria. I don't think that’s always the case with drum & bass labels though. Many of them are led by people who truly love music but lack any entrepreneurial education. This is the reason why so many close up shop after their first few releases. And also the reason why releases often get delayed or never see the light of the day.
When it comes to Authentic Music I have to be a little bit bold but I once heard a quote that pretty much sums it up: "If you shoot for the moon you will land among the stars". So the basic idea behind this outfit is to become the best among purely digital labels. This is why we focus on quality and professional level of operation. Be it mastering of every release, tight design, down to technicalities like making sure that there's no silence in the beginning of any tune.
You clearly have a lot of ambition. With those particular philosophies of yours in mind, how will you go about moulding the image of the label?
The long-term vision which is to slowly shape a unique sound of the label. This is something that the drum & bass scene used to have and I miss a lot. Back in the days many of the labels had their very specific kind of sound. So you could get excited just by hearing that your favourite producer is going to release on a certain label. You simply knew that he would adjust his style and that the outcome would be very different compared to his release anywhere else. And this is exactly what we want to foster. But it's still light years away.
As a relatively new record label, what methods have you found most effective in helping to build your profile?
That's something we struggle with. You know the saying that rich become richer, right? It's completely true. When there's a big name behind a label or it's an already established brand there's lot of free promotion going on. Major mags write about new releases and feature their stuff in monthly recommendations. Big Youtube channels upload the music and you can find the tunes in many sets by well-known DJs.
Getting even a fraction of that means a lot of work in our case. What I found effective is to try to contact some of the Youtube channels, to post on big forums and to publish production-related interviews on our web. Of course there's always the option to simply invest some money but the numbers aren't very promising at the moment.
Right now it looks like 75% of profit goes to everyone else in the chain and we still have to pay artists and cover our costs. So if you spend £10,000 on promotion, the majority of the resulting revenue will go to different pockets. We're looking for ways to optimize that but I am pretty sure that conditions for big labels are simply very different. And I only wish them all the best. It's just that being a small fish is not easy.
So far, all of the artists that have released on the label are fresh faces – producers who have not had a great deal of exposure in the past. Is this part of the label ethic?
It's partly ethic and partly based on our current situation. We always put quality first and we definitely want to push upcoming artists. But we're also going to release well-established names in the future. Though I won't tell you who just yet.
Your latest single is from Remembrance with ‘Wanna Get Down / Influence’. What did you find was most striking about these two tracks which made you pick them up?
It's harder and harder to find someone with his own voice these days. I think that the recent influx of high-quality drum & bass sample packs and several insane plug-ins are to blame. They are shortcuts to making good tunes but everyone is starting to sound the same. So... what struck us about Remembrance is that he doesn't surf these trendy waves. He's just being himself and that happens to be pretty groovy as well.
We’ve been tipped off (admittedly by you) that one of your forthcoming releases is likely to be accompanied by an official video. Is there any further information you can share about this?
That music video seems to be cursed. We already had to cancel the shooting a couple of times. But I believe in persistence and it will eventually get made. The video is supposed to be for a tune entitled Sanctuary that I actually coproduced and there's definitely going to be more moving pictures in the future. Especially for the compilation Gates of Dawn which we just announced and which I am super excited about. So watch out for Authentic Music this fall. Some big stuff is coming.
We are very thankful that – as well as giving away a free track – you have also provided a guest mix for us. What new material can we expect to hear in this mix?
We've decided to do an all-Authentic mix which will help to introduce the label. There are bits from Brain Crisis's forthcoming EP as well as some dubstep goodness at the end. A lot of the stuff included is already out or in some cases available for free. And it has been mixed by my partner in crime Peejay with whom we founded the label.
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