Where do you get your music from?
Here at Essentially Pop we listen to LOTS of music. We get sent tons of brilliant tracks by artists and PR companies for purposes of reviewing, which means we have mountains of music to get through every day before we even touch the music we already own or have recently bought. There’s LOADS of good music out there, and there’s many different ways of listening to it.
Going through my music collection, I’ve got records from the 60s I cadged from my parents plus ones I’ve bought since then; cassettes from my teen years, and countless CDs I’ve bought or been given: purchased online, or in person from record stores and charity shops. I’ve got a desktop computer and an iPad rammed full of digital downloads (yes there’s a great deal of Jedward on there but there’s also Bowie, The Who, Amanda Palmer and much much more). I’ve got Spotify and Deezer, with playlists for picking up artists I’ve not listened to for a while or those I’ve just found. I also “discover” artists on Tradiio (and if you’ve not joined up then you’re missing out on a lot of fun as well as many damn good sounds). In short, my world is full of music….but there’s always room for more, isn’t there…
A few months ago I signed up with a new start-up company, ‘Flying Vinyl’. Their premise was simple – records pressed for new and unsigned artists, in order to showcase their work to a wider audience. For £20 a month I get 5 singles sent to me in the post. And they are beautiful.
After three months of getting high quality records through my mailbox, I talked today to Craig Evans from Flying Vinyl to find out some more about what they’re up to.
EP: What’s the story behind Flying Vinyl?
CE: Well we launched the concept in June and send out a monthly box of curated, exclusive records to our members from the best new artists around.
EP: Tell us what the premise is, who’s behind it, how did it all come about?
CE: There’s a team involved it in who’ve all been involved in the industry in one way or another for a while and a kind of shared frustration for certain parts of it that aren’t advancing the quality and value of art. So Flying Vinyl was created to help move art forward and promote the best new material out there to listeners.
EP: What’s your background and how did you come to be involved in Flying Vinyl?
CE: My background’s in digital marketing in the music industry. Digital music’s a double-edged sword because it’s allowed anyone to participate in music, which is great. The problem is that there’s a lot of noise being created and cutting through that to the right listeners is really tricky. So Flying Vinyl seemed like a sensible way to connect the best new music with people who really care about music.
EP: How can an artist get pressed by Flying Vinyl?
CE: We’re one of the few organisations in music who’ll literally listen to everything. When people send us music it gets listened to but more than anything we just go out and scout the best new music there is and then put out exclusive records. We’ve featured artists we’ve discovered at gigs, festivals, in blogs and magazines, via management and label contacts, all over the place.
EP: How much does a subscription cost and what do you get for your money?
CE: It’s £20 per month with free UK shipping and you get 5 exclusively pressed records along with a booklet with information about the bands involved and a piece of merchandise – like an art print for example.
EP: What’s the subscription take up been like?
CE: It’s been really good and more than anything connecting on social media with our members and discussing the industry and vinyl and music in general has been fascinating. There’s people we’ve never met who we talk to virtually daily just because of that shared passion.
EP: Records have been getting a lot more popular lately – to what do you attribute this? Do you think there’s a sell-by date for records, or do you think the trend is here to stay?
CE: I think that since the days of Napster as a society we’ve been really focused on making music as cheap and convenient as possible. This’s meant that most people are having a sub-standard listening experience 90% of the time (myself included), because we’re running around town with iPod headphones in, or listening through crap car speakers or computer speakers or whatever. Music’s become incredibly disposable for the most part and that’s one of the reasons people aren’t willing to pay for it.
The reason that vinyl’s made a come-back is because that digital disruption has led to huge portions of society having never purchased or properly listened to physical music. So when people have that experience for the first time, if they’re truly into music, they have a much deeper connection which they want to have again and again.
It’s interesting to hear people already plotting the downfall of the format and writing it off as a fashion trend but honestly people don’t just buy a few records, get bored of them and bin them, once you purchase a record you’re a collector and you’ll probably die with those records. It was the same with older generations who, despite neglecting the format in favour of the CD for some time, ultimately kept their collections in their lofts.
EP: What happens after Flying Vinyl? Do you have more plans? Cassettes are seeing a renaissance – Will you perhaps start up Flying Tapes, for instance?
CE: I don’t think that what we’ve started with Flying Vinyl is a linear thing with a start and end point, we’re building a community of people who aggressively care about music and, like us, want to change the industry and the way that we listen to music. I think we’re going to keep looking at the vast array of distribution models out there and trying to disrupt and improve them. It kind of pisses me off that the music industry is sort of governed by a bunch of tech companies and device manufactures instead of just understanding that those companies need artists more than artists need them and as an industry building more effective distribution methods.
EP: Has there been any noted rise in popularity for those artists you’ve featured?
CE: Yeah totally. The most rewarding thing that’s happened is that when we put a box out, the artists see a spike in sales of other physical music that they have, more downloads and people going to shows. That’s really what it’s all about. In general also I think we work at a level where many artists in the box are already going on to do big things. We’ve featured bands like Kagoule, who’ve just supported Johnny Marr; Kid Wave, who are about to head out on a European tour with the Vaccines; Magic Gang, who’re huge all over the world and loads of other acts that are just constantly doing incredible things.
EP: What’s your take on the current state of the music industry?
CE: The ‘industry’ part of the music industry is really struggling to understand its role in the new world. The main problem is that old values are governing a market in which those rules no longer apply. When you’ve got a business model that’s based around people en-mass purchasing physical albums in a singles-driven market where music is given away for free, pirated or streamed for insanely low royalties, you really have to rethink everything. Ultimately artists and art in general have suffered because it’s hard to survive and make music now without some kind of financial backing, which is almost impossible to get without a few years of really building a profile and sales channels.
EP: Advice for artists wanting to get into the music industry?
CE: I think you have to do it for the right reason. It should be entirely about making the best possible music and showcasing it to as many people as possible. A lot of artists chase the trends of genres that labels go through phases of signing, when in fact the best thing to do is just make good music and then get out there any play it to people. You know if you’re going in the right direction if people really respond to it and turn out to shows, buy downloads or whatever.
EP: What question do you wish we’d asked? 🙂
CE: I don’t think there’s anything else, think they were great questions!
Flying Vinyl costs £20 a month for 5 high quality 7″ records. Postage is free in the UK, but Flying Vinyl ship worldwide with a small international postage fee for each region. You can subscribe on their Website. Flying Vinyl are also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.