The past few weeks have been a bit like using my get-out-of-jail-free card but having no clothes and ten miles to walk to reach civilization. People think things are going to end, because for a lot of good people it has been the end of the line. As much as I wanna tell everyone else 'everything's gonna be alright', I've wanted to be as respectful as possible. It's hard to keep the perception of a dream still being very much alive amid so many redundancies which have taken place in the past few weeks and months.
Rumours of things disappearing in a cloud of burning promo smoke are utterly unfounded. DiS is carrying on and no-one can stop me or it. Yeah, things are going to be a lot more lo-fi but it's nothing new, the first four years of the site were very good grounding and knowing what something is, rather than what it could be with a budget, is a don't not push button which I won't be bashing again in a hurry.
People seem confused why it happened in the first place. Wha' happen' was... we signed a deal with BSKYB, whose Sky Media arm sold, and still sell, our ads. They saw that with DiS reaching nearly half a million people a month (plus my highly experienced music business partners), that given some expansion into new demographics, we made for a reliable and sensible solution to create the content for sky.com/music. I liked the idea of reaching 2million or so people a day, with potentially several thousand, if not hundreds of thousands of them looking for musical guidance. It was a Gameboy-cheat to fast track DiS and bring the music we love to a wider audience.
As of two weeks ago the bridges to get from A to B are no longer being funded. Whatever will be, will be...
It's a mixed blessing. I'm glad I no longer need to tread water and can get stuck in again. It's been an awkard two years - the first one of negotiations, putting everything else on hold; the second filled with so much hope and uncertainty. I'm glad I can get back to what I side-stepped four years ago in favour of running the record label, which has been a fulfilling adventure. I'm happy to take a backseat in the label, as it doesn't make sense to be looking to sign anything new in the current climate.
As sad as I am that I can't see a future of the record label, it's actually quite depressing because I can't see a future for the record industry. Ultimately it's a business-model based on selling something people can get, and are increasingly growing to expect, for free. You can add value here and there, make fantastic packaging, release things on blue twelve inch vinyl or meat-packed with polaroids but it's not enough. It's also such a horrible muddle being at the heart of the axis where creativity mixes with commerce. What feels like philantropy, releasing things I love and believe in, ultimately is peoples dreams and their expectations can be hard to fulfil, especially when you have to translate the reality of the music business and when you have your own dreams. All's fine until what's being in something together becomes us and them, like socialism turning to capitalism. Music has such an important place in peoples lives and you can't place a value upon it, which is part of the problem. There is a value of association tof being involved with music and art for some people/companies. Like the patronage of the 02 festival/dome/etc. The record industry began because of philantropy (makers of war heads wanting to keep the concerts they loved recorded and wanted friends who missed it to heard them) and that's how it will continue.
The past few years have taught me a helluva lot. Sitting here eight years from the birth of DiS, it's feels weird to draw a line beneath it all but it's the best way forward. I'm starting afresh this Monday, back in the seat as the Editor. Whilst easing myself back into it this week I've already managed to start a blog-war with Ryan Adams (although it seems to be bad blood beneath the bridge now) and start setting up the plans for the next few months and years. Thoughts are being flung around again, fears of reprocussions are no longer there and funding is being considered for ambitious plans.
Gonna take me a few weeks to get back into the swing of things but first the small matter of moving half a mile to a new office. And now for a bit of housekeeping, the new address is:
Drowned in Sound
1 Junction Mews,
London, W2 1PN
And thatisall, for now.
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
Founder & Editor DrownedinSound.com / MD DrownedinSound Recordings
Back in October 2000, Sean - then an 18 year old in a bedroom 200 miles away from London - pulled together a bunch of music obsessives to form DrownedinSound.com, which was one of the first online music mags-slash-blogs-slash-social-networks.
Over the past nine years DiS has become, according to Observer Music Monthly "the discerning indie fan's first point of reference," and has built up a rabid and influential readership of over 450,000 a month.
In 2003 he set-up Drowned in Sound Recordings. The label is responsible for launching the career of Martha Wainwright, with her critically celebrated debut selling over 70,000 copies. The label also notably released debut singles 'Oh My God' by Kaiser Chiefs and ‘The Wizard’ by Bat for Lashes, as well as records by Metric, Jeniferever, The Stills, Emily Haines, Redjetson, Blood Red Shoes and Youthmovies.
In 2007 DrownedinSound.com signed a deal with BSKYB to launch five new websites. These included theQuietus.com, ThrashHits.com and theLipster.com. This joint venture ended in August 2008 and DiS is now back to being an independent company, supported by Silentway Management.
Sean has spoken at various conferences, promoted early gigs by emerging acts ranging from Bloc Party and Editors to Jamie T and late of the Pier and also finds time to contribute to BoredofDictators.com