Tired of not hearing back from record labels? Having trouble finding any that match your style of music?
Digital distribution and the power of the interweb means that you can now miss out those pesky middle-men and be the boss by starting your own label.
It’s a tricky business and there’s much more to it than smoking cuban cigars and causing trouble in nightclub toilets, but many of the best producers have their hand in a label.
We interviewed producer JP Lantieri about how (and why) he created his new melodic techno label Flemcy music. JP regularly DJ’s at Ministry of Sound, The Egg and other premier division clubs in London and Ibiza. He’s also won a Gold VIMA Award for Best Electro/Dance Act.
The label is currently smashing it with two tracks in the Beatport Charts. #15 in the Beatport Progressive House New Release Chart was written by another producer that JP met and signed through BeatCamp and our FFWD accelerator program and another is at #7 in the Beatport Electro House release chart.
Why did you decide to start your own imprint ?
One of the reasons was to create the ability to release my own tracks whenever I wanted without necessarily rely on other labels, therefore having a tool for my personal freedom. Another reason was because of the status automatically granted to label owners.
What’s the ethos behind your label? Is it based around a genre?
Definitely yes. Not a clean cut genre but a blend. Our music sits somewhere in the deep-progressive-tech triangle. Each artist has his own sensibility, and each track has a personality which can be closer to – or further from – one of the three corners of this triangle. That said, two aspects are always key: melody and emotion.
Your strapline is “If music be the food of love, then Flemcy has the recipe”. How did you come up with this and do you feel it’s important to build a brand?
Of course it’s important to build a brand! There are gazillions of labels out there, so for me it’s quite obvious that to be recognised, a label has to be a brand (like any enterprise in fact). When you think of Toolroom, Suara, Defected, Ultra, Armada, Anjunabeats, you immediately know what they stand for and what music they portray. I wish Flemcy to also be instantly recognisable.
As a French lover of fine dining, I’ve always made the comparison between creating a track and cooking a recipe, and eating in a restaurant versus listening to a track from a label. So my love for food associated with my love for music has led to this tagline.
How long have you been running now and how many releases have you had ?
Flemcy is still in its infancy. The first release was on 1st December 2015. Now we are on our 5th release with “Brewhouse”and preparing for the 6th.
How do you look for new artists to sign?
Firstly I look in the pool of people I know. I listen to what they do, and if it resonates with me, I take them on board.
Then I look inside the communities and collectives I’m part of including BeatCamp and FFWD.
I also receive some tracks from people who contact me from the blue, but usually their style doesn’t match ours. For example I received a long email from a trance producer (not that I don’t like trance) but checking out the label’s Soundcloud page would have avoided us both wasting time.
Sometimes I scout online (mainly on soundcloud and mixcloud), and if I stumble upon a track which seems to be a good match, then I contact the artist.
We’re excited to see that you’re collaborating with other producers you’ve met through BeatCamp and FFWD. Who are you working with and what are you doing together?
Quite a lot in fact, and some go back to my first BeatCamp in November 2014!
I’m proud to have recently released Ornery (aka Emiliano)’s very first EP. I first met him online through the FFWD online community, then at a BeatCamp and finally we hung out in Amsterdam during ADE.
I also met another producer, Jay Maguire, through BeatCamp who I made a bootleg of a Florence and The Machine track with. I’ve since signed a 3-track EP of him for Flemcy’s 6th release.
There are actually three people on my label that have come directly through BeatCamp and FFWD.
JP has signed three tracks from producers he’s met through BeatCamp and FFWD.
What was involved in getting the label off the ground?
Lots of work! It took me about 10 months between the first idea of creating a label and the first official release! Many aspects are involved: the label’s name, music policy, logo, website, launch artists and tracks. There are also remixes, contracts, database, distribution, promotion, PR, website, graphics, videos, press releases, newsletters, schedule, social media, events…
How much time do you spend running the label versus your own productions?
As the label is new, there are still a lot of tasks that I can’t automate or delegate (even though I have a young music lover who helps me a few hours per week). So currently I spend twice as much time on the label than on my own productions. I’ll have to invert this trend this year, as for me the most important and rewarding activity is to produce.
What are the ups and downs of having your own imprint ?
The advantages I see in running my own label include gaining a much better understanding of how the industry works from the inside (in particular when I submit my own tracks to some other labels). Also, I have met some really talented artists, and am very proud of being able to release their work. And I can release my own tracks whenever I want.
The downs are also important. First it takes a lot of time. Really a lot. Then it takes money as there are costs everywhere and it’s hard to forecast when there will be reasonable revenues.
How did you go about setting up contracts and the other legal aspects of the label?
I made a rule that our contracts are as simple as possible and fit in one page! We have two contract templates, one for original tracks and one for remixes, and the clauses are straightforward. I always ask my artists to read them and to ask me about anything that is not clear or that they want to discuss.
Promotion and marketing are key to a successful label, how have you been tackling this?
There are several things we’re doing. One is to get promos in the hands of DJs a few weeks before the official release date, and to get feedback from them. This goes via promo services as well as personal contacts. Then there is social media, with regular posts anticipating a release as well as showcasing the tracks online (soundcloud, youtube, podcasts, mini mixes…).
Getting featured on blogs is also important, so I use a PR agency which has good contacts with a number of influential sites.
There are so many ways to do marketing, and I’m not a guru in this aspect, but I believe that making a difference is key. So we’re running label events which have a different twist from the usual club nights, such as having an open demo policy.
What activities are external promotion companies doing for you and are you finding this worthwhile?
I use several promo companies to send the release to DJs and tastemakers about one month before the release, to create awareness, test the tracks, and get feedback, feedback which I then use in my newsletters, posts and that I send to my PR company which can also use it when sending info to blogs and media.
I’d say that it’s like everywhere, some promo companies are good and some are so-so; and same goes with the PR. But they are absolutely necessary if I want to create a minimum of awareness about Flemcy Music and Flemcy artists out there.
How important are social networks in your promotion strategy?
Social networks are important. It’s a fine line between getting people’s attention and not spamming them. That said, with so much noise in social media, and with people having such a reduced attention span, promotion cannot solely be based on social media. I’d say it’s necessary, but not sufficient on it’s own.
Has running a label helped your producer career ?
Definitely, and I was not really expecting that. It’s helped me a lot more than I initially thought. Selecting tracks I loved from other artists has helped me narrow down where I want to go in my own productions. Last year, for example, I released several tracks, but they were a bit all over the place: deep house, tech house, future house, techno… so my own identity was scattered. Now, my recent productions are much more focused and I’ve started to get “my” sound, and this has been accelerated thanks to my selection of artists for the label.
What advice would you give to producers who are considering starting their own label ?
Don’t do it! I’m joking, but it should be a carefully considered decision. If the only reason is that you can’t get any tracks signed, then you’re on the wrong path. On the eleven tracks that I have released in 2015, nine were on external labels, so, even if creating my label gives me an additional level of freedom, I could do without it.
So, for a producer who has already reached a level allowing him to be released outside, he has to realise that creating a label takes a lot of time (in addition to the time he has to primarily devote to his own producing), and quite a lot of money without necessarily a return on investment for years. It’s a real commitment.
Can you share with us 3 tools you use for running your label that you can’t live without?
Sure! The first and most important one is my release schedule. It’s an Excel sheet with one release per line, and all the associated steps per column (you would not believe that there are almost 50 steps for each release!!).
The second tool is our database. I keep collecting emails which I store in a promo tool we’re using Elitepromo, as well as Mailchimp.
The third tool is… my ears!
Where can we hear more of your music ?
You can check us out Flemcy Music on:
and my own music on: