The Quite Great Label Services and Marketing team for unsigned artists growing in the UK caters for bands across the world but rarely do we come across such an avant garde musician such as Nigel Thomas who with his background going back many years in The Foxes he has creatively brought together controversy, lyrical and melodic impact and a style that is set to make waves , check out his facebook , then read his insightful vision of the trials and tribulations of an artist growing his brand in the UK
During my time as lead singer/songwriter with The Foxes, we toured Europe and the U.S, played with legendary artists from Buzzcocks to The Troggs and released several top 10 UK Indie Chart singles and an acclaimed album produced and mixed by John Cornfield. We were entirely self-managed and operated our own label, booked our own tours across the world and designed all our own artwork. We didn’t do this because we were control freaks or in any way enjoyed all the paperwork involved in releasing a record yourself – we simply never met anyone who offered management services whom we felt could do a better, more focused and dedicated job than we could do ourselves (I remember looking at one potential management contract which was full of basic spelling errors – not a good look for someone who’d be representing us to other professionals).
When wives, babies and exhaustion led to the gentle demise of The Foxes, all the tasks of running a music business which had previously been divided between four now all fell upon me as I evolved into a solo artist. Certainly having had the experience of my Foxes days is a huge advantage today – in terms of gig bookings I have a huge list of promoters and venues to approach and know how to approach them, though it’s quite incredible (and dispiriting) to see how many great venues and nights have closed in the last few years. Having booked the bands for Death Disco at Notting Hill Arts Club also helped with knowing what to include in an email asking for a booking as I received hundreds of emails, good and bad – a few quick tips:
1. Include links to all your social media so I can find out more about you. I want to be able to quickly listen to your music, so make sure it’s EASY TO DO SO on your Facebook page or website.
2. Links are better than attachments, don’t ever send mp3’s or PDF’s.
3. A brief, factual biog is good. Hyperbole will be seen though and put someone off, if you want to show off it’s better to do it via review quotes.
4. Show that you’re hardworking. Telling the promoter a few things you’ll do to promote the gig (posters sent to the venue, flyers, local connections etc) will go a long long way to make you stand out.
5. Use Facebook to get the right email address and NAME to contact. It’s never ideal to try to do the whole booking via Facebook.
Something that has changed for the better since The Foxes released ‘Last of Many’, is that it’s now a lot easier to self-release. A great deal of the paperwork and hassle you’d previously have to go through have been removed and, for better or worse, anyone can get their songs on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. There’s a few choices of who you go through and how you do it, but the company I’ve used for my single and new album is CD Baby, who charge a basic set one-off fee and do everything else for you via a step-by-step online process. They can also collect royalties for you (though I’d always advise any serious song-writer to register with PRS) and you can pay more for various advanced features.
Obviously, the advantages of a record label still exist, mostly the advance of cash (which you pay back, boy do you pay back), industry know-how and most importantly in my view, the contacts and heavy-weight to get you seen in the right blogs and magazines along with the best radio and TV pluggers. It’s also true to say that unless you’re Radiohead, there’s still a certain degree of prestige being signed to a recognised label and you do get taken more seriously, though you are naturally sacrificing artistic and business control to a company that could refuse to ever release an album you put your heart and soul into.
All the choices you make, whether as a band or solo artist are going to be a risk – the only thing you can do is think very carefully before you make ANY big decision, but always go with what your heart tells you and stick to your principles. I’ve spoken to people who turned down Coldplay (‘nothing special’) and Mumford and Sons (‘you’ll need to get rid of the mandolin if you want any success’), and the truth is that no-one really truly knows what’s good and bad in the music industry or what’s going to be a success. It’s certain though that – a) pandering to what you think people want to hear and b) not learning to get over rejection are the top ways to fail in music.