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Creating the right kind of music industry

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Creating the right kind of music industry

Ipswich-based Housefly Records is an independent internet record label promoting tracks of unsigned or less-known artists worldwide. Its founder, Daniel Garner, explains how working hard and working together is what brings success in the music industry.

Was it not Hunter S. Thompson that once said “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side.”

The great man was of course right – at its hedonistic heights the music industry ruled the world. Now, with digital technology established, its iron grip over popular culture is slipping. The control it once had to influence what we listen to and even what we wear has gone out the window with the growth in consumer choice. Any idea that the industry has a control on its product to me seems laughable. People now are free as long as their conscious allows them to share and share alike and really there isn’t much they can do.

Now I may be wrong and you might think I have lost my marbles when I say it’s the music industry’s own fault that we have the current state of affairs. The massive failure on its part to evolve with the technology, is in my mind is the number one reason why the industry is in so much trouble.

As you probably know the web is full of super-talented people, failing cats, loadsa naked people and brilliant bands. Some of these people are sitting on some awesome music, some of which I have been very lucky to hear but on the most part people will never get to hear it. What is the reason no-one will ever get to hear it, you ask? Well…the reason is lack of money. And it’s as simple as that. The sad truth is being a success it isn’t about how good you are, it’s about promotion and advertising. Have you lost those marbles again, I hear you cry?

For an example shall we look at arguably the biggest band on the planet right now: One Direction. They are bloody everywhere from t-shirts in supermarkets to lunch-boxes in school, from children’s party packs to chewing gum. The nation’s daughters are being brainwashed and inducted into a cult. The techniques being used by a certain modern music mogul are more suited to interrogation of war prisoners than promoting a band. Their sales pitch is this – we will bombard with One Direction until you give in. I mean really, have you heard their music? Catchy and cheesy yes, but so is chlamydia.

Housefly Records, Ipswich

Trust me, everything we need as a community to make ourselves a success is right at your fingertips. The internet is a wonderful thing. Look at all the communities we as friends, musicians and artists have created on social media. In fact there is a huge network of forums, underground labels, radio stations and free net labels. I can’t help feeling that if we all pulled together and shared our influence and knowledge things could be beautiful. These labels, radio stations and magazines are run by people like me. People who do it because they are passionate about music and all they want from life is good music.

I originally started Housefly Records off the back of a very regrettable incident, when some git took without my consent a track of mine and decided he did not need to share the wealth. Needless to say, I was smarting, feeling super-embarrassed and very foolish I had seriously told everyone I knew about this and I looked a complete idiot.

Starting Housefly Records was my way of hitting back. I really wanted to help people but it seems even now five years down the line people still need convincing. I have to say, I am constantly surprised by the resistance I meet when I tell people about my philosophy. It seems that some folks – well actually most folks – struggle with the idea that I would do this out of the goodness of my heart and for free no less. People tend to ask ‘What good will it do?’ and I say never underestimate the power of someone else shouting your name. Some of history’s most powerful musical movements and genres have been built by word of mouth, built for free. 

This is something I go on about a lot, the idea that things can be done for free. I like a free thing, who doesn’t? But still one of the questions I get a lot which makes me feel sad is ‘Why should I/we give our music away for free?’ Now, the reason it makes me sad is because they (for the most part without really thinking about it) are already giving away their music for free by uploading it to any one of the many sites out there. My question back to them is always ‘Why not add some nice packaging to your music? Maybe add a cover and put it in a nice play order to make it easier for people to share your music and, if you’re lucky, talk about your music or write about your music. What is the alternative? Wait for that slim chance of being discovered whilst your talent and music gather dust on a webpage that no-one ever visits unless you beg them or spam the hell out of them on Facebook?’

There are so many labels out there folks; find a label that suits you and your music and email them. Don’t be shy – what is the worst they can do? Make an extra effort pack up a few of your tracks in a rar or zip file, make sure they work together like an old-style mix tape, and make sure they sound tip top. Listen, just because you’re giving your music away doesn’t mean it should be half-arsed or unfinished. Don’t forget your music is representing you and reputation is everything.

Zak Whitefield is a self-confessed travelling musician from the UK

Housefly has had some super success stories from artists that have gone the extra mile. Mizuki’s Last Chance has been signed to Circus Records, which is an ambition of many dubstep artists. And the very talented Zak Whitefield has been lucky enough to have tracks played on 6 Music Recommends. Now, I’d like to say this was all down to Housefly and my wonderful promotion techniques, but it isn’t. Those who have had success have worked bloody hard to get where they are and have used Housefly as a springboard to get them to where they want to be.

I think that this success shows that we can use our talents wiser. If we just worked together as a community, imagine all the beautiful things we could achieve. So now go, dear reader, yes right now, and start spreading the word… We can do it together.

Words: Daniel Garner


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