This week we get the lowdown from Tom Newman, production manager, Cooking Vinyl and founder, Crooked Noise...
How did you break into the industry?
When I was 16, I started stage managing at my local venue, Club 85 in Hitchin. From there I began promoting shows and then started meeting managers and labels. Eventually, I started as an assistant for an artist management company, who at the time were starting their own record label division. That’s when I really fell in love with the craft of releasing records, so much so I went on to start my own record label in Crooked Noise Records.
Why start your own label in 2018?
Because it’s a lot of fun! It’s such a buzz when a release you’ve been working on behind the scenes for months finally comes out. When you see it all come together it’s so rewarding: reviews, radio plays, playlisting and the touring opportunities an artist gets off the back of a solid release plan. I hand-delivered vinyl to one of our bands this year; to see how they reacted to their first ever vinyl release was a really special moment.
I am deeply passionate about new talent
What does a good indie need to do?
Not be afraid to take calculated risks! It’s straightforward if an artist has a following and sales value, but to be able to break a new artist is the biggest asset a label can have. It’s also really important to listen to the artist and trust their vision – ultimately it’s their art and they know their fanbase better than anyone else.
How do you see the future of the independent sector?
It’s going to be far more empowering for the artist. We’re already seeing fewer traditional record deals and more artist services deals whereby the artist retains their master rights – and rightfully so. Record labels will continue to be successful by adapting to this and offering artists the right tools to benefit their business.
Who are you industry idols?
Brett Gurewitz, founder of Epitaph Records. Not only am I big fan of their catalogue (I’ve been buying their records since I got into music when I was 11) but they’ve constantly diversified and stayed relevant through thick and thin. Not only that, bands stay with them for big chunks of their career, and for good reason. They nurture the talent they’ve got.
What is your dream music job?
Well, I’ve lucked out pretty hard right now at Cooking Vinyl – I’m production manager for a really impressive roster including Nina Nesbitt, Passenger and The Darkness, to name a few. In addition to this I’m getting involved with the rock and metal A&R for the label, something I am deeply passionate about. Long term I definitely see myself in a full time A&R capacity, I am deeply passionate about championing and working with new talent.
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