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 Studio

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

TGE15: State Of A&R vs State Of Art

In the run up to this year’s The Great Escape Nick Raphael from Capitol lambasted the state of a&r in a Music Week interview. His comments were referred to in a panel about the role and future of labels. Incidentally, the irony of having a packed auditorium for the panel on labels when labels are purportedly history was noted.

From a manager / artist position it’s easy to agree when a&r is shit: when they’re not signing your band or digging your record. Simple. They’re dismissing true talent (ours) in favour of signing shit (anyone else but us).

From the perspective of those scouting for talent I would say that everyone tries to find the most amazing artist that’s around to be signed. Judging by the kind of amazing that was on offer at TGE15, I would have to agree with Louis C K about how our language has evolved.

It’s not that amazing to hear someone sing passably a well written song, whilst looking like an urban lumberjack. I’m not amazed by it.

I got back to the ‘Farm and my brother played me this:

Now, that’s still amazing, 50 years after it happened! ;-) Great songwriting, great chops, surprises, attitude, unpredictability and musical invention.

TGE15 was enjoyable, once again. Little Brother Eli, Hana Piranha, Return To The Sun and Stillia played great sets. I got to play squash at one of the local clubs. What more does a guy need?

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Dissing Those Who’ve Made It

Nine tenths of the demo submissions we receive have no redeeming quality. The playing is horrible, the songs are terrible and the production is rubbish. Some also come from artists who are the third closest clones of famous bands in their home towns. Being that band isn’t going to get anyone a career.

The one tenth of demo submissions that is of interest rarely makes you go “f**k me, I have to have this right now”, but a bit of songwriting talent, an interesting angle, a vibe worth developing or a good singer prompts you to explore the opportunity.

We music people expect talent, commitment and perseverance from an artist. Talent is easy to spot. You can either write a tune or you can’t. You can sing or you can’t. If someone reacts to your demo, they probably feel you tick the talent box.

Commitment is easy to profess to possess, but seasoned musical travellers know that you have to actually commit to doing real things. It will require varying amounts of time, resource and money, all of which will inevitably led to sacrifice, hardship and going without.

Many fall at this hurdle. It would seem that the idea of being in a band appeals much more to some artists than the actual work that goes into being in one. Those who can’t are just as fucked as those who won’t.

Some artists are willing to do what it takes. They find a way to commit themselves to the task at hand. They’re the ones we can work with.

Perseverance is a doddle when things are going well. In the real world, perseverance begins when nothing’s shaking.

Too many talented and committed artists don’t persevere long enough, which, in the real world, means as long as it takes. They say that it’s darkest just before dawn.

True fact.

Those who’ve found success have gone through all this. It really is pointless to diss them, other than to maybe have a laugh at their expense. Which is what Jack Black does brilliantly in this video spoof.

I laughed hard. Then I watched the original.

Jack Black is a better singer than most of those who send us demos. Not bad at all for a comedian. But Gary Cherone, the singer in Extreme, is even better. He’s a singer and a musician.

I dislike the kind of soft metal / hair metal stuff that was popular in the late 80s. I was so glad when Nirvana came along and rescued things.

It happened then and it can happen now. All it takes is for one cool rock band to have talent, commitment and perseverance.

Have a nice weekend!

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The Great Escape

Once again we are putting on a show in Brighton for The Great Escape. Little Brother Eli, Return To The Sun, The Onironauts and Hana Piranha will be performing at The Fishbowl from 7pm on Saturday 16th May.

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Write Some Hit Songs, Baby

The advice is always: get a good lawyer, get a good manager. Those giving the advice haven’t thought it through. Lawyers and managers don’t write songs.

If you learn to write songs that get people going crazy, you may be able to offer a lawyer or a manager a job.

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Remember that everyone in the food chain works for you. Your ability to offer them a job rests on the ability of your songs to generate enough cash to pay them for the work done.

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Write some hit songs, baby.

Here’s one.

While you’re at it. Check out how these cats could play!

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What’s An Askhole?

When I was a kid the band I was with did a TV show on which also a well known Finnish artist performed. My Dad asked me later what, if anything, I had learned from the guy. I said I hadn’t bothered to talk to him because he was nothing special.

Dad was upset with my stupidity. How can a guy who has for twenty years made a living out of the business you seek to enter be “nothing special”? I said I’d rather learn from Quincy Jones and some of the real cool cats. He said, take a look around. Is any fucking one of them in the neighbourhood for you to talk to?

Except he never swore in front of me. Fact. I made up the swearing for dramatic effect.

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Eventually I moved into a neighbourhood from where some real cool cats came – London – and met a manager who was interested to meet us. I asked him who he was working with. He named a reggae band I’d never heard of. Sensing my indifference, he said that they sell between 2000-4000 tickets every night. He said they’re a “business” worth managing.

His point was completely lost on a young hot shot.

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Twenty years on I’m the one being approached for advice.

Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it. – George Orwell (1903-1950)

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Little Brother Eli in OldSchoolRecordReview

Nice words about Little Brother Eli in Old School Record Review. The band release their EP on our label. We’re very proud of our work!

Read the whole review here.
Check out the band on Spotify!

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Gigs – What Are They Good For?

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.

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Illusions Of Reality

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! ;-)

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