PIAS MD Jason Rackham on the new golden age for independent music | Labels

PIAS MD Jason Rackham on the new golden age for independent music | Labels

PIAS is having a superb 2021 to this point. 

The indie big has been concerned in a run of Prime 5 albums together with Sleaford Mods, Bicep, Black Nation, New Street, Arlo Parks, Maximo Park and Mogwai, who scored their first No.1 LP 25 years into their recording profession.

“The pandemic has created an actual sense of togetherness and altruism throughout the unbiased sector,” PIAS UK MD Jason Rackham advised Music Week. “I believe that’s most likely going to usher in a golden age for independents going ahead and we’re seeing that already. Via our varied relationships with labels and administration firms, we have had this unimaginable run from the beginning of the 12 months. 

“There’s a background of togetherness, resilience and drive that is been created with the surroundings we’re working in. There’s a very good variety of repertoire that’s coming by and being profitable – it feels very promising.”

PIAS has a spread of relationships with artists and labels, from its personal label operation to distribution, service offers and joint ventures. 

Again in January, PIAS had Prime 10 success with Sleaford Mods’ Spare Ribs (Tough Commerce) and Shame’s second album Drunk Tank Pink (Useless Oceans).

Dance duo Bicep charted at No.2 with Isles (Ninja Tune), which has 22,248 gross sales so far (33.3% from streams) in keeping with the Official Charts Firm.

“Ninja Tune are long-term companions of PIAS – that’s a relationship that goes again 23 years now,” stated Rackham. “Delivering the label’s highest ever chart place with Bicep felt actually good.

“For a similar label, having Black Country, New Road coming by and charting at No.4 was attention-grabbing, as a result of that’s a band who had been developed pre-lockdown after which launched [their debut] throughout lockdown to nice success. So that they’re actually good examples of successes with our distribution companions.” 

From a world perspective, Arlo Parks is considered one of PIAS’ most important new artists of latest years. Her debut Collapsed In Sunbeams (Transgressive) peaked at No.3 final month and has gross sales so far of twenty-two,768.

Rackham signed a take care of Transgressive a decade in the past when it emerged from an settlement with Warner Music. PIAS entered right into a co-funding and co-licensing deal, whereby it invested in Transgressive and shared international rights with the label. The PIAS workforce within the UK and throughout the worldwide territories work in tandem with Transgressive, in addition to manager Ali Raymond at Beatnik Creative management

“We have had the breakthrough of Arlo Parks on Transgressive,” stated Rackham. “It is come collectively very well. Arlo had finished loads of set-up earlier than signing to Transgressive. However since then, we have seen this actually spectacular marketing campaign developed whereby you could have an artist, primarily based in London, and us working the worldwide marketing campaign for her by content material creation and digital technique. We’ve delivered Prime 5 fin the UK, Prime 10 in Germany, Prime 20 in Australia. We received shut to six,000 items in week one in America.”

The marketing campaign included robust partnerships with DSPs, together with a film with Amazon Music. In widespread with different label execs, Rackham famous that success has come without the usual global promotional or touring effort

“We’re heading into a very attention-grabbing period from a local weather standpoint, price effectivity and wellbeing,” he stated. “Artists can really arrange and run a global marketing campaign from a base and make some critical inroads into markets the place possibly they’ve by no means even been.

“Arlo hasn’t even been to America. But she’s received the complete home for American TV – James Corden, Stephen Colbert – and with out placing her and a band on a airplane to the States; it is simply all being filmed in London, produced right here and delivered. It is an attention-grabbing new approach of working, and it is received numerous advantages. The unbiased sector’s actually embraced it, not simply the labels however the shops too.”

Indie retail has seen robust outcomes prior to now 12 months, notably for vinyl, as they labored round Covid restrictions and staged digital occasions with artists. Rackham is co-founder of the Love Record Stores occasion, which launched as a social media initiative. 

There’s a very good variety of repertoire that’s coming by and being profitable

Jason Rackham

PIAS reached No.1 with Mogwai’s As The Love Continues (Rock Motion), which has 14,737 gross sales so far. They practically did it once more the next week till Architects pipped Maximo Park to the top spot.

“Who would have thought they’d be having a No.2 album and promoting double what they bought on their final file?” stated Rackham. “That is a very good instance of how we will accomplice creatively with administration firms as nicely. Prolifica Administration have pivoted into being a label, and we have finished a Co-op label funding take care of them, which has resulted in all four of their album releases going Top 10 so far.” 

Rackham additionally famous the position of social media in chart campaigns for Mogwai and Maximo Park.

“The Mogwai fanbase received very motivated round this social media marketing campaign and it drove them No.1,” he stated. “Stuart Braithwaite then handed over the baton to Maximo Park. It’s actually attention-grabbing to see how social media activations are connecting with fanbases, who exit and purchase data from shops or have interaction with DSPs. 

“It was type of loopy, on one hand you had Middlesbrough Soccer Membership supporting it [Maximo Park’s No.1 bid] and then again you had Rage Towards The Machine. The band and the label have been tremendous joyful, it is their joint highest chart place in fairly a difficult surroundings.”

PIAS’ success as a label accomplice comes at a key time for the indie sector with rival AWAL being acquired by Sony Music. For these artists who need to stay 100% unbiased, that would current a possibility for PIAS.

“We really feel fairly central to the unbiased sector with the varied relationships throughout completely different labels,” stated Rackham. “I perceive the AWAL acquisition from a strategic standpoint for Sony – it widens their A&R funnel and strengthens their A&R acquisition technique in sure markets the place they could possibly be stronger. However on the identical time, the flip aspect to that’s it can assist profit the unbiased sector and different firms that function inside it.” 

Rackham is now waiting for partnering with labels on new releases from Squid (Warp), 4AD’s Dry Cleaning (“the pre-orders on that file are already actually robust”), Dropkick Murphys (Born and Bred), John Grant (Bella Union) and Claptone (Totally different). PIAS’ personal label releases embrace albums from Geese (in partnership with Partisan), Foxes and LP (with State Of The Artwork). 

“The unbiased sector has pulled collectively,” he advised Music Week. “I do not simply imply the labels, it’s the shops, the labels, the creators, the artists. It seems like all people is rooting for one another and being supportive of one another.

“Clearly, there is a wholesome competitiveness as nicely, which is sweet as a result of that simply drives success. However it does really feel like there’s this togetherness – I really feel it within the AIM board conferences. You actually get this sense of entrepreneurs and label heads coming collectively for the larger good.” 

See the new edition of Music Week for extra on Warp’s marketing campaign for Squid’s debut.


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