With Spring Tube celebrating their seventh anniversary we catch up with label boss Sergey Slang for the latest episode of Ask The Label Manager.
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?
Always a pleasure, thanks for inviting. I’m from small European country Latvia. And I’m the owner and manager of Spring Tube labels group (Spring Tube, Spring Tube Limited, Spring Tube Liquid) + such imprints as Lick My Lips Records, Round Triangle, and Sol Y Playa.
2. Does your label(s) have a distinct sound? How would describe the labels vision and sound?
All my labels unites that I’m releasing on them only quality emotional and melodic electronic music. On the main Spring Tube nowadays it is basically deep house and deep/progressive house; Spring Tube Limited – progressive house, deep/melodic techno; Spring Tube Liquid – liquid drum&bass; Lick My Lips Records – tech house, tech/deep house, techno; Round Triangle – progressive house/trance; Sol Y Playa – balearic house, nu-disco. I know it’s a lot 🙂 I just like very different music, and releasing diverse stuff is making my work more interesting for me.
3. 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?
Approximately 50-70 demos per week. About 30% from them usually are releasable. Sometimes more, sometimes less. And I reply only on the submissions which I feel are addressed to my labels (stylistically and by message form).
4. How long is the wait from when you sign a project to when it will actually get released?
From one month till one year. Depending from the kind of release and the current releases line on the concrete label.
5. 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.
Anthony Mea, Stephen J. Kroos, Alex O’Rion, Subsky, Namatjira, Da Funk, Claes Rosen, Hernan Cerbello, Marco Grandi, Adam Byrd, Allende, Storyteller, Forteba, Soulfinder, Faskil, Electricano, Paul2Paul, Rishi K., Phrakture, LoQuai, Monojoke, Tuxedo, Miraculum, Ewan Rill, Erdi Irmak, Robert R. Hardy, Blood Groove & Kikis, Jero Nougues, Slam Duck, Zatonsky, Ronfoller, Reii, Nikolay Mikryukov, and many other great artists I’m proud to have as the residents on my labels.
Of course it’s always good to have the key artists on a label but along with it I prefer the constant work with the new producers for my rosters as well. The regular addition of some fresh names and fresh sounds is an integral part of my politics in work with the labels. There is only one main point – I always stay true to own style and sound of my labels.
6. What is your thought process behind remixer selection on a given project and how many is too many in your opinion?
Sometimes is enough of even one good alternate remix for some EP/single release but usually I manage two (mostly) or three different remixes for every single. Also now I’m about taking a new tradition for my main labels Spring Tube and Spring Tube Limited – will make one maxi single every year on each of them with including till 10 remixes on one track 🙂 I have a lot of young artists who ask me about remixing possibility but in general can’t give them such a possibility because mainly as remixers for our singles I’m considering my established residents. Therefore I was thinking about such a new action offering for this to make the remixes for artists who never been remixed for us earlier. These can be some of Spring Tube’s finest young producers or my already prominent artists who just released with us before only their original works, and I’ll invite for these projects also new names to our roster whose sound is from my current favorites. The first maxi singles for both Spring Tube and Spring Tube Limited are ready, expect their releases in the coming couple of months.
7. What artists would you love to have on the labels?
One of them is John Kearns aka Lateral Cut Groove who by the way will be exactly that new addition to Spring Tube Limited’ roster through its first maxi single mentioned above.
Also I would love to have on my labels such a great artists as Quivver, Vincenzo, Serge Devant, Sebastian Davidson, Dale Middleton, Alvaro Hylander, Mika Olson, Moe Turk, Khen, Paji, Pax, Betoko and others.
8. Where do you see the label in 5 years? And are you pleased with where the label is now since its inception?
Honestly, I’m not thinking about this 🙂 The same it was when I only started working with Spring Tube – this was just a hobby, and I could not imagine that this label will grow to what it is now, with celebrating already 7 years anniversary this month (November of 2016).
Of course I’m pleased with all Spring Tube’s achievements but in the same time I know that we can reach much more success having all the components that we have now, so will continue working hard further and developing for sure 😉
9. 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?
Yes, we’re not that major labels which have own offices, staff, etc. Releasing not commercial music without some big investments we don’t have is very difficult thing regarding earning some solid money. Of course I earn something with the labels but this money is enough only for not having some boring full-time job for living a normal financially independent life. Outside the labels I’m working half a day as a sound engineer on a local FM-radiostation. I love both my jobs, not too much money but I do only what I like, and so I’m a happy man 🙂
10. Who is your distributor and have you been with them for the entire existence of the label?
The first 6 years my distributor was Proton. And my current distributor is AMP Suite directed by the head of legendary Baroque Records, Keith McDonnell, – a professional company with such a respected clients as Sudbeat, Drumcode, Pacha Recordings, Lapsus Music, Glasgow Underground, Dyami, Selador, and others.
11. Are you or have you done label nights and if so how have they contributed to the label’s growth?
We had just a couple of label nights (with Satoshi Fumi in 2011, and Claes Rosen in 2012) in Ukraine’s Donetsk before the war is started there in 2014.
Unfortunately, since that time we still haven’t found some good place/club for continuing with our events. To be honestly, running a several labels and besides working a day job I personally have no time for organizing also the label events, but I hope one day will find the right people and the right place/-s for this. We have a strong team of great artists/DJs therefore this aspect is important for all of us regarding growth for sure.
12. What’s your favourite thing about running a label?
I love working and communicate with my established big family of resident artists but the favourite thing most likely is in discovering some new talents and later presenting them to the scene 🙂
13. 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?
Before sending the demo to some concrete label listen what this label release, then listen your track one more time, if after that you still feel your work suitable for this label by its style and production level then send it over. And send it to your first priority label, then wait a week, if no answer then next your priority label, etc. Be patient, your message is not the only one that label receive every day. And of course do not send the demo to several labels at once, we usually ignore such messages and even not listening a material from them, if you didn’t know this 🙂
14. What if a demo is good but needs refining? Do you have time to help the artist and give them some tips?
I always have a time for this because for me is very important to be fully happy with product we release. Unfortunately, not all artists are open for this. Sometimes we discuss and fix/change the tips with even big and experienced artists, but sometimes I receive dissatisfied answers on even my smallest requests of fixing/changing some tips from young and unknown artists. This is a paradox, and I’m definitely not on the way with such persons.
15. Who does the labels mastering? And do you ever have tracks mixed down by an engineer for better results?
We have own professional mastering engineer who is also our artist – Domestic Technology. He makes the mastering for all our releases almost from the very beginning of my labels. And he is also my good friend for many years already from the beginning of friendship yet before the labels inception. He does only mastering but its quality is one of the best I’ve ever heard. We also provide the mastering for friendly labels and artists.
16. This is tough but if you had to pick your five favourite releases or tracks on the label what would they be?
Yes, it’s very difficult to choose of course. We have plenty of stuff that will remain forever in my heart, so I’ll mention only one track from every my label, and these will be not from that big our hits but quite unnoticed works which are something special for me personally:
Spring Tube – Blood Groove & Kikis “Deep Grain” (Ramiro Bernabela Remix)
Spring Tube Limited – Miraculum “Hologram” (Electricano Remix)
Spring Tube Liquid – Subalpine “Those Who Wait”
Lick My Lips Records – Ivan Vysotenko “You”
Round Triangle – Elisbert “Mirage”
Sol Y Playa – MYSTERIA “Illusion”
17. Lastly, what advice do you have for someone just starting a label?
Sign and release only the music which is close to your heart & Always stay true to your heart 😉
Spring Tube’s 7th Anniversary Collection is out now in 3 parts, you can purchase the releases: here