Chris McKay on 22/6/12
For most students a final year assignment means gruelling library sessions, late nights and thousands upon thousands of words. The topics are endless and the only limitation, as many tutors and past students will say, is the student's imagination. Leeds Met students, Kieran Edwards and Tom Howson took that advice a little too literally as they graduated from university with not just a first class honours but a record label that's home to nine confirmed artists and a contract to sell their music on iTunes, Beatport, Spotify and other online retailers. Here's the story of how two uni students took on the music industry and won.
"As our final assignment we had to come up with a product combining various aspects of our course" Kieran, 21 says. "In addition to this, we had to complete another module, which required every student to come up with a business plan for either an existing business or an idea for starting a new one. Consequently, we decided to combine all the modules into one large project and start up a record label.
"At first it was just going to be the plan of what and how we would do it, showing mastering skills, web design, promotions, A&R, and how we would release the music, as well as the business plan. After putting this all together, we decided that as we had all the foundations and fundamentals in place, we might as well give it a go and launch the label for real."
The two entrepreneurs launched Voodoo Records UK in June and have already created quite a stir within the industry. Choosing to focus on House, Electro and Dupstep the pair have signed upcoming talent and Mixmag's 'One to watch' for 2012 Jini Cowan, as well as aSquare, mmBeats, Paul Carty and Dirty Trix. Within the last week they've also confirmed Oli Hodges, Nick Ashworth and James Moon to their growing roster of artists they're far from finished.
"After scouting the Internet and venues around the country we have got a few artists that we are currently in talks with but unfortunately can't name yet," Tom, 20, says. "Over the summer months we will be releasing a good number of singles as well as the compilation that will be available in this month and feature all our new artists."
Joining forces with Voodoo Events, the pair capitalised on the already established well-know club nights the company runs across Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Newcastle and Liverpool.
"As we are good friends with the guys at Voodoo we decided to work together and combine our label with their popular name," Kieran from Wigan says. "Voodoo have provided us with the tool to promote and raise awareness of the label, as well as give us access to clubs around the country that now play our music."
And it's this promotion and awareness that has led to the owner of Beatport, Baseware Distribution, to offer them a contract the two young lads couldn't believe. After months of talks with managers over in America, Voodoo Records UK impressed with their business plan and their music leading to the distribution giant offering them the opportunity to sell their music on iTunes, Beatport, Spotify and other online retailers.
"People take months, even years to get their music on Beatport," Tom, from County Durham says, "and in such a short space of time we have signed a contract with them ensuring that all our releases for the next few years will be sold on this giant of a download site."
Probably the most amazing thing about this entire project is the two music enthusiasts achieved all this with virtually no help from their tutors - only calling on their advice regarding a few legal matters here and there.
"On top of that, our link with Voodoo Events has been solely for promotional uses and they have had no input in how the label functions and the choices made," the two of them make abundantly clear. "We have both worked hard to learn as we go and achieve what we have so far. Our website, media, music mixing & mastering, promotions, marketing and more has all been the hard work, time, and effort of just us two."
So where do the label owners see themselves in five years? Worldwide success? Living celebrity lifestyles? No. For these two it's always been and will continue to be all about the music.
"In five years time, we aim to be holding regular and popular club nights showcasing the talent that we have to offer," funky-house music lover Kieran says. "Our music will be popular within the House, Electro & Dubstep scenes and we will have a large artists roster, with hopefully a good number of our artists having successful material circulating the industry and filling dance floors across the country."
Continuing to live in Leeds, working two jobs to keep their dream alive, the owners of Voodoo Records UK haven't quite "made it" yet - but with the backing of Beatport it's safe to say they're well on their way.
Voodoo Records UK are continually on the look out for artists and producers. If you have something which may be of interest to them, sent it to firstname.lastname@example.org and for more information on the label, head here.
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