From recording labels releasing tracks on Beatport without the artist’s knowledge, only to have them found on YouTube months later, to releasing pre-mastered tracks, many artists like Oliver Cattley have witnessed some of the blunders that companies make.
“I can remember being signed and I had sent them (the label) a pre-master copy of my track,” said a smiling Oli. “And, within days, and without any promotion or mastering, the free download label uploaded the track to its YouTube channel!” (A pre-mastered track will sound very soft, almost whisper-like, when not mastered properly before release.)
The Trance scene, thanks in part to social media, has also seen a shift from a complete sense of unity to a more clique-based fraternity. “When I first started clubbing you’d have people of all ages, sexes, creeds, and disabilities enjoying the same music under the same roof,” remembered Oli. “But, as time has gone on, that’s dissipated somewhat.”
The same can now be said on how promoters and labels sign artists to their lineup card or catalog. “There seem to be people cropping up left, right and center who have made records better than the majority of the professionals headlining clubs and festivals,” declared Oli. “There’s also an expectation with some artists that sign with particular labels that doors will open. In reality, those doors don’t open unless you’re involved in certain circles.”
In recent memory, there were many times that Oli would open his Inbox with people requesting he listen to their music. “A lot of the times it was amazing stuff,” said an excited Oli. “I would ask them if they’d sent it to “label X” or “Y” and they would tell me, ‘yes, but they haven’t listened to it yet.'”
That got Oli thinking, “You know, these unsigned artists could probably do with a label that is really rooting for them rather than them being just a catalog number if they do get signed.” Oli continued, “I’ve been down the road that a lot of these guys are on right now, so I wanted to change that. I would rather sign a good track by someone I’d never heard of than a mediocre track by someone who has a big name.” So, in the summer of 2015, Oli began his mission to showcase new talent and introduced Tranceform Recordings to the marketplace.
Tranceform aims to create a proper USP (Unique Selling Proposition) where fans can identify to the artist with a coherent and well thought out impression instead of just a catalog number. So with the signing of newcomers Rated R, Alex Djohn and Dan Audley, to name a few, Tranceform is indeed opening doors for these artists and showcasing them in a proper light. “For me, I’d just rather do it my way,” revealed a content Oli. “Our (release) numbers are low because I want to a full month promo of the song and not release two and three songs per week.” With 88 artists on their roster, and realizing the sudden backlog of signed tracks, Tranceform’s team of A&R director, Anton Van Sprundel and promotions manager, Sonomi Fujita have worked with Oli to increase the release schedule to two per month.
This, in turn, poses the difficulty of promoters creating a balanced lineup card for live performances. “It’s crucial to fans and artists alike,” said Oli. “I understand the importance of booking talent that people will come to see, but I think clubbers are getting bored seeing the same names each week.” Organizing a UK event to showcase these new artists is something Oli would love see come to fruition, but stresses he would need assistance. “With a full-time life outside of music it would be difficult to achieve it on my own, but I’m willing to give it a go with a reliable partner!”
In reality, most artists aren’t concerned with their music signed to a certain label. As Oli elaborated, “We appreciate the hard work of all the artists that have trusted in Tranceform’s seal and, I think that our appreciation and support of their tracks far outweigh the need to be signed to Label “X.” Later this year, the label will continue with that appreciation.
With the 50th Tranceform release scheduled for summer 2019, Oli and the team have proposed a never before done marketing celebration for the event. “I’ve given each signed artist the opportunity to review our catalog and choose a track they would like to remix,” said an enthusiastic Oli. Of the signed artists, 12-15 are available for the project. The goal is to then showcase these remixed tracks and all the Tranceform showcase mixes since the label inception, including those by Northern Trace and Chris Blaylock, on a Tranceform engraved USB that fits nicely in a small, portable box. Hence, today’s version of a box set and Oli hopes that it and the label advance further.
However, errors are necessary for the music business, and the ability to rebound is paramount. As Oli continues to push Tranceform’s unique business model, he reminds us that he too has handed out blank burned CD’s at a nightclub and unknowingly slipped a copy of “Rotterdam” by The Beautiful South into the CDJ during a boat party. Said Oli, “We’re all human, but my wife won’t ever let me forget that boat party!”
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