[8 Nov 2019]
Jacaranda Records’ lead immersive audio producer, mrmmr, lifts the lid on working with a diverse range of new front line artists …
It’s been 12mths since we officially launched Jacaranda Records, and in that time we’ve released 55 tracks in total, that’s two EPs an Album and two singles. A phenomenal amount of work in a very short space of time, a testament to the team working on the Label and especially the Immersive audio engineering and mixing team based at our Studios in Liverpool, and certainly the three artists we’ve developed since signing – SPILT, SHARDS and Aimée Steven.
It has been a tremendous success, as we define success in holistically different terms to other Labels and musicians. We did it cost-effectively, we were mindful of the image, the look and feel of each release and we spent time and effort finding and developing our audiences. The numbers we see are gratifying, with all of acts achieving significant growth in terms of social media reach, streaming followers and radio plays.
SPILT have grown an audience of 2.5m with their 8-week campaign that’s seen social following, streams and listeners leap by almost 40%., while SHARDS’ latest release is performing strongly across the board.
It’s not been all plain sailing, in fact the Label team has gone through several changes over the last year as we have needed to consolidate, and we’ve also challenged our people to continually rise to the occasion, and give more and more at every turn.
The music industry is not for the faint of heart, as there really are far more pitfalls and potholes than there are roads to fame and fortune. What matters is the music, if you take care of that – the rest will come if you have the energy and the intelligence to ride the waves and not be pulled under by the rip curl of bullshit that surrounds the Industry. Although focusing on the music sounds simple, you really will be surprised how many people working at the heart of the recording industry don’t keep that mantra to heart. It’s the main reason why we chose to set this Label up… because of the music, because we’re so sick and tired of folks that plainly (clearly) knew very little about music production, how it’s made & who its made for.
The deals we’ve signed are Collaboration Agreements, we don’t sign record deals, or 360s or whatever the majors or major minors want to call it these days. The deal is that we are in the mix, literally as the Artists are, every step of the way. Some of the musicians we’ve been working with over the last year have totally bought into what it is we are trying to do, others – for better or worse, have found that a hard concept to accept. Either it was too complicated to adjust to a new way of thinking, or else the pitter-patter of crap that swirls around signing for a Label got in the way. It’s telling that all the Artists we began to negotiate with, you could tell immediately who was listening to the noise, and who was willing to let their talent do the talking and let it shine through.
The Label for us is not a “business as usual” operation, as we are keen to work hand-in-hand with our Artists, because our experience is not just in content support, or commercial development, or marketing amplification, we are in the trenches with our Artists as they themselves develop their own voice and their own look. That’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when you target a certain calibre of musician, because the ones that are distinctive usually also have a strong opinion about their sound and look, and how to get that out there.
So we guide as well as get our hands wet. We’ve blurred the definition of what a Label should and should not do, and therein lies the amusing crux of the matter… who decides what a Label can and cannot do? In the framework of a Collaboration Agreement, we are clear that we can offer whatever we want, when and wherever we want to, uninhibited by industry norms that have developed over decades to give the Label the commercial upper-hand.
The logic of the major Labels is that they are “experienced” at handling Artist relations. In my experience, that’s a joke. In this day and age of fragmented media and democratisation of production tools – Artists simply don’t need Labels anymore, they can do it all themselves and are increasingly doing so on their own terms. Good for them. Labels need to evolve, but if the music industry teaches you anything, it is that they are terrible at evolving, which is why they have perennially been outmaneuvered by more agile and flexible media businesses. It’s easy to sit in gilded halls and look at how well the music industry is doing (and believe me it is) but consider this – the business should be doing 1000x better than it is doing, but does not because of the simple fact that – it’s not about the music, and there is very little real talent at the top of the industry. No senior executive writes, produces, mixes the product… the music.
The industry is about cash notes, not musical notes. That’s not a naive point of view based on innocence and couched in a full moon-sized arrogance, it’s based on a universal truth that talent – real talent, cannot be manufactured or scaled or created. I’m not talking about Malcolm Gladwell here, that you put the work in and you hone your skills, I’ve spent a lot of years, and many, many, many cycles (and a good few of my nine-lives) working out that talent, real talent attracts more detractors than benefactors.
One thing I’m struck by over the last year is the speed at which the right people “click” – and when you know, you just know, it becomes obvious. It’s easy to dismiss the small things when you’re talking about releasing music or working in a rehearsal room, or a recording studio. It’s the smaller, personal sensibilities that make for a team coming together and working as a single entity to get the material out there in the right way and at the right time. A single entity (pun intended).
This business really is a people business. That does not mean diplomatic saccharine smiles, folks that navigate to a position of fence-sitting or crawling under other people’s shadows, it does not mean glad-handing and back-slapping (whilst contemplating back-stabbing) – it’s not about spreadsheets and laminating power-point presentations, it’s not even about scale and other management consultancy bollocks, it really is about listening, with zero agenda. The music business is mostly run by folks that have an agenda – which is sad – but also completely predictable when there is so much to be gained from the work of others.
Why do the work, when you can just pretend you did? Anyone disagree? Well, you can’t – because I have a laminated powerpoint presentation to prove it was all me!
The area we have focused on at Jacaranda Records is Immersive Audio – or 3DAudio as some term it. I’ve been privileged to work with the pioneers in the art form, and I’m proud to have produced a number of works over the last year that has pushed the boundaries of Binaural mixing not only a bolt-on tech solution, but we have increasingly got to grips with the process and the tech across the board (not one size fits all solutions, but bespoke and about the creative, not the industrial sausage factory approach adopted by most of the bigger Labels looking to once again make money off other people’s work).
We’ve been proven right by the way the industry is starting to adopt the material, and how for instance the likes of two trillion-dollar tech companies (Apple and Amazon) have embedded Immersive Audio into their mobile and speaker devices, it’s only a matter of time before Immersive mixes will become the industry standard, as opposed to a nice flavour to add to the basic stereo output, or indeed a special effects add-on in post for the Film and TV Industry.
I should know, I kick-started the process with others now busily re-writing the history, which is all cool – as that’s yesterday’s news – what about the now? And the thinking that underpins the future?
The artists we’ve been working with, as driven by our work ethic – and our own bespoke studio, is an Immersive First workflow (that does not necessarily mean an Immersive Only output – see the stereo and binaural mixes of Spilt’s “No Ball Games”). And that is something of immense pride for me to be able to say. We are pioneering a frontier in sound, we paint pictures with sound, and we are sound explorers in an age of noise and bluster, this Immersive storytelling process, is very much here to stay, and Jacaranda Records has been set up and built to drive the endeavour.
And so we build for the future, and we develop with our roster, and we continue to push the limits of what we can do as a Record Label.
I’m thrilled to see and hear the plans that our Artists are working on. I’m so proud of how they are seeing themselves and their Immersive music grow. The media world is fickle and sometimes ungrateful to those seeking fame and fortune, but like I tell all the musicians we work with, if its fame and fortune you want? Go make a standard stereo studio record that anyone can churn out (and do) as so much music sounds the same these days as its the same Labels, the same people, the same studios… embrace the original I say, don’t be afraid of the new, or the diverse, or the uniqueness of your own voice. Don’t become the meat in the sausage factory… vegan or otherwise, create a new dish with new ingredients, or make something new with old recipes, but whatever you do – don’t get force fed the horse shit that passes for music these days.
That’s what we set the Label up to do, and that’s what we are doing. So cool… a year in, a shit-tonne done, more to do – working with people that get it and have bought into collaborating with what we have to offer, and if you want to hear what that sounds like? Check it out…
NO BALL GAMES Album – SPILT [link here]
Sickly Fit EP – SPILT [link here]
Refractions EP – SHARDS [link here]
Better Off Dead – Aimée Steven [link here]
My Birthday – SHARDS [link here]
We have a lot more to announce in the coming weeks and months – from the Studio front, and whisper it … manufacturing… (you what?!? Damn it, they are doing what they said they were going to do…shit…no…).
Yes, it must be true. We have laminated power-point presentations…
Peace, Love, Truth and Hurt.