Find the ‘Farm On
"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’s also a negative side."- Hunter S. Thompson
We Are The Animal Farm
The Animal Farm is an independent music company whose 360 range of services include artist management, booking agency, record production, record label services and publishing administration.
Our 23 year career in the music business has given us the experience and global network of contacts to get our artists heard by the right people.
We are members of AIM, the umbrella association for UK independent record labels, PRS and PPL.
The hub of our activities is our London recording studio. Check out the work of our producers and mix engineers. New artists wishing to submit music please do so via our demo submission page.
The Animal Farm Blog
I remember this from early on in my band career. We had a record out that got some good reactions, the single was R1 Rock Record Of The Week. We toured very hard. The shows were hit and miss, mainly miss. There just wasn’t a demand for our live show.
In our defence, there was no way of knowing if the demand was there, without actually going to the back of beyond, in the vague hope that what little press and radio we had got would have enticed people into the club. Equally, promoters had to take a punt, because they had no way of knowing, either.
In this day and age, with so much data available online, it’s dead simple to see if there is any demand for what a band does. There is nowhere to hide for anyone.
Culture has shifted. We discover new music online, by peer to peer recommendation.
The money a band spends on petrol, food and beer to go play in front of five men and a dog adds up over a year. What if they spent it on a Facebook ad campaign, instead? Perhaps for their latest track, perhaps to people who live in cities close by. Add to the mix some blogs, who discover and champion new music.
You’ll find out very quickly if anyone is paying attention. If the campaign gets traction, you can pinpoint where it’s happening. Then you can book shows in those locations and, who knows, sell a few tickets.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
A small yet significant caveat: the above doesn’t mean that a band shouldn’t tour. On the contrary, they will have to tour hard – at some point. But before you can tour you have to have an audience to tour for. That audience finds you online when they fall in love with a track their mates are getting excited about.
I’m reading a book called Get Real about How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies of Modern Life.
A chapter on the illusion of reality struck a chord. In my day job as the owner of a music company I often come across illusions of reality. The biggest illusion of reality exists on Facebook where tens of thousands of bands go through the motions of appearing to do productive things with their careers.
The illusion of reality is that everyone feels the need to look successful and busy. As if looking good equalled actually being good.
The reality, borne out by statistics, is that fans aren’t responding with anything resembling excitement to their huge announcements and great looking posters. The venues stay the same, the crowds don’t grow.
Artists in this predicament should listen to Spotify playlists, if just to compare successful records to their own recordings. Artists on Spotify playlists are successful. Again, this is borne out by facts: the tracks made it onto the lists precisely because many people are listening to them. Nobody is forcing them to do so. There is no conspiracy to get people listening to shit. That’s an illusion of reality. It may be convenient to believe this illusion, but that doesn’t make it any more true. Or real.
There are playlists available for many different genres of music, but there aren’t any for meandering, pointless bollocks…
If you have time to read a book, read Get Real. It’s got lots of other stuff about politics, the internet and technology that makes you realise what mugs we all are!
A late night drink at the hotel bar in Groningen during Eurosonic got me chatting to two chaps who were in town to sell their new app Dice, a ticketing platform. They’d both been in the music business and could drop seriously impressive names of artists they had worked with.
While the other guy was reeling off the list of names, I was not commenting on any of them, as to say “wow, cool”, because, actually, I was listening intently. It freaked him out, he said later, because he thought that I was unimpressed by his exploits. At that point we had a nice laugh.
Anyway, back to the story.
They said that to them the music business seemed a bit dead in comparison with tech which seems super exciting. They reckoned that the music business might have been as exciting in the 60s or 70s when you could do so many cool ventures and the money just rolled in.
I thought for a moment before saying that, fair enough, it’s great to be excited about something, but I’ve never been that excited about business. I’m excited by music.
The thought of being in a room making chords, words and melodies work together makes me excited. I’m a music guy. Through and through.
At Eurosonic, the theme for this week’s blogging, I got something of an epiphany about the different levels there are between artists doing their thing in the public domain. I was reminded of what my friend, a long serving a&r guy, said about turning up at yet another gig in Camden, where “you arrive full of hope, stay a while to find disappointment and leave angry that your time was, again, wasted”.
The gigs at Eurosonic were really good. Bands came on stage looking like Artists. They had style and substance visually and sonically. Not everything was for me, but it was for the most part, and for lack of a better word, professional. People looked like stars.
In contrast, most emerging talent in the bars and pubs across London is not quite ready yet. What’s lacking is a sense of purpose and finishing. You ask yourself: who’s the star?
Go down a peg where tens of thousands of DIY bands make music for different reasons. Some are out for a giggle. Some are delusional. None are anywhere near, though some are serious.
I would like urge the serious folk to stick with it. Evolve. Innovate. Try things out. Be different. Set yourself up for a fall. Fall. Get up. Try again. Repeat until success finds you.
At Eurosonic I had a nice meeting with an established central European concert promoter. The guy had been doing his job for many years and we had a meeting of minds. He said that what you do as a promoter is “you put on a gig, make sure people know about it and then you wait to see if anyone turns up”. I said it’s a similar story with making records. You make one, play it to people and see if anyone likes it.
We both agreed that the only route to success was to keep putting on gigs and making records.
Music that pushes culture forward
I’ve been going to international music conferences for a few years now, mainly in Europe. On all my trips I’ve never seen anything that I wouldn’t already have seen in London two years earlier. My recent very enjoyable visit to Eurosonic did little to change it.
I deduce, therefore, that the UK is undoubtedly still the global engine driving popular music culture forward.
When my brother Mat and I moved here 20 odd years ago we felt a strong urge to discover what it is in the water that makes British music so good. What is it about UK acts that makes them just that much edgier and cooler than their European counterparts?
The social psychology around this issue is an interesting debate. Getting to know a little about the different cultures helps you understand why a nice, soft place might produce another kind of music to what a competitive, hard nosed environment would.
Another thing I can point to immediately is language. When you “translate” your thoughts from, say, Dutch to English there is a barrier that hinders expression. When you create in your mother tongue out comes the real deal.
It’s easy for anyone to bitch about the state of affairs in music. It’s practically a favourite past time for some. I would say, to paraphrase Harold Macmillan, that we’ve never had it so good.