Richard Russell of XL is selling you a label

20.05.11

Independent Label Market is cool idea that Joe Daniels from Angular (These New Puritans, Gyratory System, Klaxons &c) had, whereby the biggest independent labels in the country would come together to flog their releases from stalls in Soho, direct from the mad bastards who end up running record labels, as if they were nothing more than apples. With the obvious point that music is the best single thing our shitty species ever invented, and apples are just crispy, sour pears. But still, it’s getting stuff into hands, which is good. Because selling is cool. Selling is fun.

There’s lots of cool things on sale from a range of great labels, but best will be on the XL barrow, who are auctioning off a “Record Label Starter Kit”. Included in the lot, which starts at £250, are the master tapes, lifetime copyright and one page contract for a new EP. It sounds great – by “well-known” Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian musicians called ‘Fresh Touch’ and recorded in Ethiopia by Richard Russell and XL’s in-house engineer Rodaidh McDonald, it’s already had some radioplay, so you’re not bidding on a turkey. (Their publicist was admirably tight-lipped about the identities of the “well-known” musicians, but apparently they are both “exciting” and non-XL). It’s everything you need to start a label, basically.

The really inspiring thing about the grow-your-own kit, and the day as a whole, is how demystifying it is. It’s easy to think of running a label as to do with a load of complicated, hard stuff, from Tumblr accounts to tumbling graphs; which is the main reason that the vast majority of us don’t ever get round to taking the plunge and doing what would be, if you made it, a pretty sweet job. But when it comes down to it, there’s not a lot more than finding music, getting the right to sell it, turning it into something sell-able, and selling it. The kit itself is great and it’ll make whoever wins it a bit of money, or at least something cool to tell the kids, if not a career. But I suppose the real point of selling it, or buying it, is you don’t need it. One of the most important labels in the world is not only telling you to (nominally) compete with them, they’re showing you how to do it, because they want you to do it, and that’s really cool.