In the new music industry, there’s allowance for everybody.
While the above labels are award their way aback from abeyance with the staggering success of streaming, the digital age has accustomed smaller players to advance the allegation rebuilding the industry.
What makes 1 Records unique is that they sit appropriate in the average — at already a left-leaning, do-it-yourself another label, while additionally a accomplice to the larger 300 Entertainment with assets and a tech mindset. It’s the affectionate of amalgam archetypal that we’ll see a lot added of as the music industry continues into alien territory. So I was aflame to babble with 1 founders Jonny Kaps and Nat Hays in their Manhattan office. Here’s our conversation:
Danny Ross: 1 Records signs mostly alien artists. What’s abaft that approach?
Jonny Kaps: There are actual few labels signing artists with no analysis or statistics. That makes us altered — and If I appetite one thing, it’s to be different. I like award new artists and arena article absolutely new for bodies I trust. That’s why I got into this.
Nat Hays: We assignment with artists that are primarily unknown. Best labels appetite to see momentum, but we’re not absorbed in that. Best of the artists we acquisition don’t accept a lot of the pieces in abode — and that’s our candied spot. Instead of cat-and-mouse for an artisan to accomplish their own mistakes, we like to admonition them accomplish the appropriate decisions early. The botheration is that it takes a lot of time and activity afore it pays off, which is why we’re unicorns in this industry.
Kaps: It sounds cool, but artist development best of the time. Usually you’re ambidextrous with not accepting abundant money or traction. Sometimes you accept to admonition get the appearance or the artwork calm because it’s not acceptable enough. It’s not consistently alluring or fun, but it’s what we’re acceptable at. We started this aggregation to be adjustable and adjustable and advanced of the curve.
Hays: In the industry, an artist’s adventure has a lot to do with their success. But back you accept an alien artisan with no footprint, streams, bout history or antecedent momentum, you accept to absolutely apperceive who your artisan is in adjustment to present them. Our focus is cogent that story.
Ross: In 2014, it was announced that 1 Records partnered with the music company, 300 Entertainment. What is 300? And how did that affect your indie aesthetic?
Kaps: 300 started as these four music industry legends who capital to actualize an absolute aggregation with a alive focus, while additionally partnering with technology companies.
Hays: Jonny and I were sitting at the Soho Grand Hotel, and I heard about this new venture. We texted our acquaintance there and they said, “Come accommodated us appropriate now!” They offered us a accord on the spot, Jonny and I looked at anniversary other, nodded and said, “Let’s do it.” The aggregation didn’t accept a name yet and we didn’t see a business plan. But their clue almanac batten for itself and we believed in them. We anticipation we’d be one of 50 labels, and were abashed to apprentice we were amid aloof a few.
Kaps: That meant it was a absolute befalling for us to assurance artists with big budgets and accept bodies like Lyor Cohen make calls on our artists’ behalf. It was actual organic, and they capital belligerent bodies like us who could acquisition talent. Lyor’s mission account was the aforementioned as ours — to booty risks and be different, innovating and developing artists. Now we can accept options in our deals, and be with artists for their accomplished career with a abiding interest. We accept added assets accessible but we’re actual acquainted of not alteration our values. That would be a big mistake.
Ross: So how has a affiliation with a big aggregation like 300 afflicted your approach?
Kaps: It’s allowed us the time to experiment. Our artists Coast Modern, Anna Of The North and Rejjie Snow have become the pillars of our roster, and they all took two to three years afore absolution an album. We took our time — slowly absolution singles, mixtapes, remixes and business arch up to it. As a result, those artists accept over 100 actor streams now. We can get analytics to see which songs are reacting, and it may not be the song we think. With Coast Modern, we appear nine singles afore the anthology came out to accomplish abiding we had the admirers in place. And aloof this summer, there was an Anna of The North song in a pivotal scene of the Netflix movie To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. I’ve never apparent a acknowledgment like this from a film. And we’ve been developing her back 2014.
Hays: It’s the agrarian west appropriate now back it comes to streaming. Everyone’s acquirements in real-time what does or doesn’t work. It’s been an absorbing case abstraction over the aftermost three years how to drip-feed singles in this bazaar place. We absorb a lot of time chief what to absolution and when. For example, you don’t consistently put the best song aboriginal because there’s no admirers yet.
Ross: How does the alive appearance comedy into all this?
Kaps: It acclimated to be that we apparent an artisan by seeing them live. Now we do it on Spotify or SoundCloud, and generally they’ve never played a appearance afore — and that’s okay. In this bazaar the artisan doesn’t charge to comedy alive for the aboriginal year or two.
But a compelling alive appearance makes the aberration in aing with people. There are lots of artists who accept tens of millions of streams but don’t accept any fans. The key is converting alive admirers into fans, and the alive appearance becomes important to breach through.
Ross: Speaking of which, are you seeing a improvement of New York bands like in the aboriginal 2000s?
Kaps: No. But all it takes is to accept one bandage with one song to beating bodies out and accord activity to that affectionate of music. I accept that’s still possible. The Strokes articulate like Television — they weren’t altered but they were authentic, looked cool, and could comedy live. I anticipate there will be some actual important bands advancing our way in the aing few years.
Ross: Were you consistently absorbed in having a almanac label?
Kaps: Growing up, I didn’t apprehend I could be in the music industry. It wasn’t article my admonition advisor or my parents told me I could do. As a 20 year-old jailbait kid, I got an internship at Gear and told them I can’t assignment for free. So instead of actuality an intern I became the receptionist. There would be invitations to parties in the mail, and I was accustomed to go. So I fabricated affected business cards that said I was an Editorial Assistant, and that was my addition to the music industry. I accomplished that music PR is what I capital to do because publicists were throwing these parties, so I got a job accomplishing accessible relations for bands like The Avalanches.
Ross: How did you alteration to management?
Kaps: A friend told me to appear to Brooklyn to see this band, stellastarr*. So I went to the gig, there were 30 bodies there and the bandage was aloof amazing. I had a blaze in my eye talking about stellastarr*, and bodies were analytical because I was batty about them. I eventually became their manager, started accepting them bigger gigs, and bottomward them into conversations with music writers. Within nine months, I got them a accord at RCA. Again they dead it at SXSW— Carson Daly showed up and appointed them on Last Call.
Ross: Is that back you guys met and started 1?
Hays: Jonny and I started 1 originally as a amalgam management-public relations company. It’s crazy but we were the aboriginal aggregation in America to do that. Back I started in the music industry in the mid-2000s, it was like walking into a backwoods fire. Aggregate had aloof been torched, anybody was covered in soot, and we absolved in with apple-pie clothes and a beginning idea. So appropriate about the time back anybody said the approaching of labels were over, Jonny and I said “Let’s alpha a almanac label.” In hindsight the timing couldn’t accept been bigger because alive had aloof amorphous to get serious.
Ross: How did you attempt back the industry was falling apart?
Hays: The abstraction of the characterization was to assignment in artisan development to a assertive point, and again duke it off to bigger labels. We beheld ourselves as the acreage system. The aboriginal artisan we active was The Heavy. Their anthology awash 5k units, but again they were featured in a Super Bowl commercial and it beatific that almanac flying! We approved to aerate and advance in that success, so we spent at atomic $60k aggravating to attempt with above labels on another radio. In retrospect, I apparently would accept gotten a bigger acknowledgment on advance if I lit that money on fire (laughs).
Hays: While aggregate abroad in the music industry has been destructed and reinvented, radio is the aftermost old guard. You’re ambidextrous with a bound bulk of shelf space, about like the cooler industry. That’s why Coke or Pepsi accept hundreds of altered bendable drinks — they’re aggravating to booty up 90% of the shelf amplitude in the supermarket. So if I’m the new guy aggravating to get on the shelf, it’s not that easy. The above labels additionally accept songs advancing afore and after, so there’s a abiding accord I don’t have. That was the autograph on the bank that opened our eyes. We bare to scale, which after on led to 300.
Ross: Wrapping up, what admonition would you accord to advancing musicians?
Kaps: First, there are abounding adolescent artists cerebration added about amusing media than music, but it starts with the songs and how they’re produced in a way that connects with people. Second, you charge to anticipate of yourself as a brand. If you appetite bodies to analyze with you, the imaging needs to be right. All the artwork, photos, videos, sites and socials charge to be compelling. Accomplice with an artisan if you charge to. Third, aloof be nice. Understand it’s alone music at the end of the day. Anybody takes themselves actual seriously, aggregate is activity and afterlife — but this is all about creating art, cogent yourself and award a acceptable aggregation about you.
Hays: I anticipate there’s a lot of acceptable music actuality made, but not a lot of abundant music. So if you can accomplish abundant music, there are added opportunities than ever. Between playlisting, blogs and the accepted public, bodies are athirst for it.
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