For the latest episode of Ask The Label Manager we catch up with Julian Rodriguez to learn about his unique vision behind Massive Harmony Records.
1. Thanks for joining us and giving us some insight into your life and daily label manager duties. So let’s start with the obvious, what label or labels do you manage and where are you based?
Thanks for reaching me out and making this interview. I manage Massive Harmony Records, a label that has Progressive House as its main genre. I currently live in Buenos Aires and I work on a home studio, that makes the demo listening process much easier , always.
2. Where does the name from your label(s) comes from? Is there a story behind how it/they came to be?
Well the name itself wasn’t that much of a problem to choose because I love all those ‘massive’ tracks with various elements, good harmonics and I pick up music for the label according to those principles.
3. Does your label(s) have a distinct sound? How would describe the labels vision and sound?
We’re focused, as mentioned before, on Progressive House. Trying to keep the same line in all of our releases, that way I believe the audience knows what they are going to listen when they buy our Eps. That’s what gives a label their imprint, that ‘personality’, the fact of keeping a style and not releasing music from various genres so that people won’t get shocked when they grab our stuff, we try to surprise from other points.
4. We would guess you probably receive a lot of demos, how many would say you receive in any given week and what percentage would you actually consider releasable and do you reply to every submission?
Yes, we are receiving a lot of demos lately, something like 19 or 20 per week. We try to keep certain quality standards (the best we possibly can) and we always answer emails back, although most of the times the submission from producers consist of only a link to their tracks without any kind of introduction or a greeting. Those messages we do not answer, we think they are not serious enough.
5. How long is the wait from when you sign a project to when it will actually get released?
We believe that with enough preparation and time things always end up in better results. Every time we sign a track, when we build the EP up we try to get the best remixers we can, most of them are usually busy with other projects so we tend to give them long deadlines. 5 or 6 month average since we accept one track until its release. Sometimes things get a bit delayed so we do not accept new tracks, that way the artists involved won’t have to wait much.
6. Who would you say are your core label artists? And do you think it’s important for a label to build a roster around a few key artists and develop a distinct sound in the process.
All artists are important to us, we think that it’s a matter of respect. It’s important to have a base or core of artists with their own signature sound that help build up the label’s imprint as well, but there are always new emerging talents with lots of potential so our list is pretty wide. We like to discover new talents, those who may not have that many opportunities anywhere else, here in Massive Harmony they are completely welcomed.
7. What is your thought process behind remixer selection on a given project and how many is too many in your opinion?
First and mainly, we try that the style between the remixers and the producer from the original track don’t vary that much. Although it’s good to give the EP certain dynamic, we get that by lowering or pumping up the intensity with a remix. If the original is really intense then the remixes will most probably be smoother, and viceversa. 2 or 3 remixes per EP are enough, 4 is too much.
8. Do you sell merchandise and if so what do you sell, where is it available? and do you think it’s important to have merchandise?
We don’t sell any merchandise for the moment, but we are planning on making some shirts and stickers/decals with Massive Harmony’s logo, and ship them to our all time artists, those who release music on our label continuously.
9. Where would you say the majority of your fans are based? And does that correlate to where the majority of your sales come from?
We got fans from all over the world, from South America to India, Sri Lanka or Australia for example. The most number of sales come from E.E.U.U., that’s a country with a vast population and most of them in a good economic situation so that definitely influences on the amount of sales.
10. What has been the most successful track or release on the label? Both from a sales perspective but also support or live / radio play form established DJs?
We’ve had lots of hits like for example ‘Guhus – My Karma (Matteo Monero Remix)’, and the whole EP by Fernando Ferreyra titled ‘Learning To’. That last one has been played by lots of great and well respected artists like Hernan Cattaneo live at his gigs or even in his ‘Resident’ podcast.
11. What artists would you love to have on the label?
There are some we are trying to ‘seduce’ so they can release their music or even make a remix for our label, like Luke Sambe, Soulwerk, Tripswitch, Thankyou City, Kobana, Danito & Athina, Jonas Saahlback, Interaxxis and others for instance.
12. Where do you see the label in 5 years? And are you pleased with where the label is now since its inception?
We are very happy where the label is at nowadays, it has grown a lot since the first release back in October 2013 and we hope it keeps growing a lot more in the future, that’s why we give our best shot every time. We want our label to be a future reference of the genre one day.
13. Living off the earning of a small digital imprint is unlikely, how do you supplement your income? Do you have a job outside of electronic music?
We don’t do this for money, just pure love for music and this style in particular. Nevertheless the label sustains itself pretty well although I have a job outside the music scene, a job that allows me to dedicate enough time to music and to the label.
14. Do you pay advances or remix fees? And is it reasonable to do so in your situation?
Yes we have payed advanced fees in occasions. That’s a good way of attracting big musicians to work with Massive Harmony. I think that investing is also a good way of helping underrated or not so popular artists to help them grow, helping them by letting them by new gear amongst other things to improve themselves.
15. Who is your distributor and have you been with them for the entire existence of the label?
Our distributor is Proton. We’ve always had the same. They are serious business people though very kind at the time of aiding us.
16. Are you or have you done label nights and if so how have they contributed to the label’s growth?
Yes, we’ve done a showcase of Massive Harmony in 2015 and this year we’re doing a second one. It was really successful thankfully, the audience was able to see some of our artists live in action or on a live stream (for those who couldn’t assist to the event). We’ve received some great feedback as well, it was a fantastic night overall.
17. What’s your favourite thing about running a label?
We like a lot to give opportunities to new artists, discover new talents and help them keep that style be as alive as ever. Watching a lot of our artists nowadays release music on big and well respected labels, and back at the time were not so popular and had released on Massive, watching all that process is really gratifying.
18. What advice would you give to anyone trying to get a release on the label? How do you suggest they approach the demo submission process?
First of all it is good and important to make a good introduction, stating where you are from, the style of music you produce and some background information about past releases (in case they did before). After that it is really important to be patient, as I said before in this interview, things done with anticipation and a good amount of time to prepare it, end up in better results. 90 % of the labels take months to release those tracks to the public, my advice goes for both artists who release with us and also for the ones who release on any other label.
19. What if a demo is good but needs refining? Do you have time to help the artist and give them some tips?
Of course. We believe that letting the artist know that modifying or adding some little details on the track it could sound better then we’ll make it happen. Anyway, that’s only our point of view as probably the same as other label managers/owners do, it’s just a matter of taste. It’s always good to receive some constructive criticism if needed!
20. Who does the labels mastering? and do you ever have tracks mixed down by an engineer for better results?
We work with Pangea Studio (they do an excellent job with analog mastering). We’ve also sent some of our own stuff for mixdowns to the same studio, the owner is called Matias Ricciardi and he is a great sound engineer.
21. This is tough but if you had to pick your five favourite releases or tracks on the label what would they be?
It’s really hard to pick a favourite, we like all of our releases, if not then we won’t release them. But we do love the music from Fernando Ferreyra Guido Elordi, Sebastian Busto, Guhus, German Angeleri, Franz Lehmann, Guss Donnan.
22. Lastly, what advice do you have for someone just starting a label?
My advice is to be patient, get your own label started based on your love for music. The good outcome, if things are done right, eventually come. If anything goes wrong sometime, there’s nothing to be worried about or to be disappointed, just keep working hard.
You can check out the Massive Harmony catalog: here