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Birth of a label, part 5

Our monthly series charting the birth of new label ASTIR Recordings

2017 Nov 12     
2 Bit Thugs

This month: rethinking ASTIR's radio strategy (and a chance for iDJ readers to get involved)

Based in the southwest UK, Simon Huxtable has 20 years' experience as a DJ, music journalist and label manager behind him. Now, in 2017, he's going it alone and launching his own label - and we're following his progress every step of the way...

The big news this month: I finally got round to getting the radio show going! About time, you may think, but I should explain the issue that slowed me down: brand identity.

You see, some radio stations are brands in and of themselves (such as Frisky Radio, Proton or the Essential Mix) and so as long as your music fits their brand, you get on famously. The station I originally had in mind, while popular, focused on a different sound, one I wasn’t prepared to align myself with. So, with no hard feelings, I moved away from them and over to the lovely, if slightly batty, Saturo Sounds team. Their musical direction fitted much better with my own for the label, and with subs paid, time slot assigned, graphics in place, away we went!

Actually, I have to confess, the time has changed. Mondays were proving to be a challenge with always working in my day job - each presenter has an interactive chatbox element to monitor for the length of the show, and I was absent each week, which annoyed me more than the others. The show is weekly, which was ace for a few weeks and then the reality of allowing a day each week to download promos, check online stores, compile a 10-15 track mix and add stings and commentary dawned on me. I decided to get help. So starting in December, the first week each month will be a competition winner's mix (more on that in a mo), weeks two and four I’ll do a show and week three will be for label mates to push their release that month - clever huh?!

The competition will take a few months to gather a head of steam: I know this because we had one at the magazine I ran before. Word of mouth, especially on Facebook, is a war of attrition when it’s not gossip you’re passing along and to be honest, that’s okay. It means the people who seek me out actually care about the music they make or play - the Pauly D’s of the underground scene can look elsewhere for their instant fame! If you want to enter, you can do so here.

Promo time
Elsewhere in ASTIRLand - mmm, theme park idea! - I’ve signed off 004, which is the remixes of my debut release by Pako & Frederik. They are now poised for promo, but I think this time, I’ll use my free distribution promo for press coverage and have another provider do the DJ support (I’ve chosen SMP3, but there are loads out there). It’ll cost me, but they have a far superior list to me and, more importantly, their emails get opened and responded to, which wasn’t happening nearly enough. Using the free promo to push for press coverage is smart because they all want the latest music, and it also opens the brand up to a wider audience should any of them publish a review or feature.

I’ve also started working on 005 - a new track from a little-known outfit - and 006 as we draw into the Christmas period, while everyone’s working out how to tell their mum they’re going to their partner’s family for dinner this year. 006 is my first compilation of new tracks (closing date is end of December if you have something I might be into) and release is planned for February. No-one buys music in January anyway! With December just around the corner, I’ll be back on the marketing and PR push with some free music and the competition. I might even launch a producer comp too, but we’ll see...

Words: Simon Huxtable

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Tags: ASTIR, Simon Huxtable, new label, setting up a label