Willem Gives Us The Lowdown On What It Takes To Be A Label Manager

Hey Willem, When did you take on the role and what skills made you suitable for it?

Well, since I had demos coming in with good stuff, but just not what my existing first label is about, FenixFireRecords, I decided to start a new more dark underground techno label. The skill for being a good label-manager is to hear the potential of a track but also sometimes to convince a producer to make changes when that will make a difference. Therefore, I guess you need to have some empathic skills too.

How would you describe the style of music you’re selecting for the label now? Does it change from time-to-time? If so, how often? And do you think it’s important to be consistent?

I choose stuff that is fresh. Yes, it is still techno, but let us say that it stretches a bit the boundaries made by the industry. I grow up in with the music of the early nineties, late eighties. In those begin days, everything was experimental. I do like it if a tracks comes in and have that same experimental vibe.

When it fits in my humble opinion my label standards, it will be on the label. I guess tastes changes in time, but most of the time, what I liked 30 years ago, most of them I still like. Music evolves, so there is more to like.

What is an average day like and what jobs do you constantly have to deal with?

During the week I am a graphical Engineer, a senior designer who has to manage a team of designers. After those regular hours, I manage now 2 record labels, a third is just starting up. I have to deal with contracts with artists, making up cover art, and of course listen and reacting on demos. I must I agree, when cloning is possible, I would consider cloning myself to have some more time.

What’s your philosophy for the label?

I do must say that it hurts a bit to see how low the product flow goes on vinyl. I had to release stuff only digital because on vinyl it would be an economic disaster, despite of what the industry tries to tell. 300 pieces is a huge number to put out on the market. So, the philosophy is to bring good music to DJ’s and clubs, above making a few collector items. Maybe in the future some collector items will be pressed on vinyl.

Please share one tip for artists who are wanting to work with the label

First, if you send your stuff to a label, try to listen to the other stuff that label is bringing out. Your music can be good, but not suitable for that label. Secondly, your music is not bad if it is not chosen by any label. Finally yet importantly, if you receive any critics, do not take that personal but see if it is right about your track and make those changes, even if it is stored as a different mix of your track.

What are the best and worst bits of your job?

Paperwork with legal documents. I try to standardise my contracts as much as possible with a fair contract for all parties. But some producers still think that the world is waiting for them and demands high fees. Some are worth it, most of them I must deny because no profit can be made for either. On the long run, that makes no body happy. What makes me happy is to hear a demo, and those Goosebumps comes up. A good track, even when it needs rework, is the real pleasure of this job.

How long does it take to get a release out there from when you first sign it?

After signing and receiving the wav-files, it goes out to the mastering. During that time the cover art, some track info and promo text are made. When that package goes out, and becomes public, will, you could say that will be about 8 weeks later. When a vinyl release is in the make that will be about 14 weeks.

How do you decide on remixes and where do you look? Does it depend on the original? What is the aim of getting remixers involved?

When it is an original track out of the label, we will let it remix by label connected producers.When it is a track from the label, I go out and ask remixers out of the label to remix. Most of the time, I receive remixes from both groups.

What releases are coming soon?

Xerosorex and VV303 are just out. We are in progress of a new Jason Laake double EP and another smashing double EP from a world renounced producer is just the contract out for signing. Let us cross fingers that he is happy with the contract. Anyhow, the future is ours, we are always ahead!


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