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SEMBLANCE CREATION BLOG
 

HENRY


DECISION NOT TO RUN EVENT - [15th  December 2023]




 

A number of factors played into this decision. Steve is due a baby in January and the outcome of my personal event at Strobe in Plymouth with Ankoth Music & 'Wingz'. The night wasn't a disaster but we all made a small loss (though it was probably worth it to party with one of our favourite artists. The Wingz night showed me how dangerous running events without local support/fanbase can be, especially in the current climate. With the added costs of our TouchDesigner visuals and potential marketing, the lack of time Stephen is likely going to have, we decided to put the event on hold. Something we will look to run in the future when the time is right and once we've found a smaller venue/ built up a bit of a fanbase. I feel like the nightclub/ electronic music events scene is under attack in the UK right now so it's something we definitely want to push in the future, just when the risk is a little lower.



 

 


 

 

                                   

 

 

 

 

 

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Figure 1.1 - Mindmap of tasks to complete 

 

 

CYGNUS MUSIC CONTACT - [25th February 2024]



 

I Initiated discussions with Cygnus Music (Cygnus Music, n.d.) regarding representation and digital distribution. While our initial inquiry revealed that we did not meet their minimum requirements, the exchange was valuable for future reference. We aim to revisit collaboration with Cygnus Music as our label grows. Meanwhile, we explored Soundcloud as an alternative distributor, inspired by Stephen's positive past experiences with the platform. This decision aligns with our goal of cost-effective distribution as an emerging label.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.2 - Contact with Cygnus Music 






RELEASE SCHEDULE - [27th  February 2024]


 

Establishing a structured release schedule became essential for the label's growth - Matt Ward highlighted the importance of having a roadmap during one of our feedback sessions and a solid release schedule was also an essential requirement for Cygnus Music. We mapped out a timeline, starting with the Deft Design & Luyah EP in April, followed by subsequent releases from various artists. This schedule not only ensures a consistent flow of content but also demonstrates our commitment to nurturing talent within our network.

 

Deft Design & Luyah EP - 25th/30th April

Jaynie 2 tracks - June 15th

VA Album - end of June/ early July

Armenez - August 20th

One of the Inner Circle artists - September/October 



 

 

CONTACT WITH SOL - [3rd  March 2024 onwards]


 

The collaboration with visual artist and dBs Bristol student Sol (@souls.uk), initiated on the 3rd of March 2024, has been essential in enhancing the aesthetic/overall brand of our label's identity. Through ongoing communication via Discord and Instagram, we've developed a symbiotic relationship, with Sol contributing stunning audio-reactive visuals for our debut track, "First Off." This partnership showcases our commitment to multidisciplinary creativity and sets the stage for future artistic collaborations. Me and Steve decided we wanted to commit to building this relationship and growing as a label with Sol in the future - in the same way Radiohead has done with artist Stanley Donwood (Dazed, 2021). The band has consistently collaborated with Donwood since the release of the ‘My Iron Lung’ single in  1994 (Brown, 2015), and both the artist and the band have grown together over the years. This also helps to keep the brand consistent as we move forward. 




 

SOCIAL MEDIA SETUP [11th  March 2024 onwards]


 

In establishing our social media presence, we analysed the strategies of successful record labels such as Inner Circle Recordings (Inner Circle Recordings, n.d.) (See Fig 1.3 below), Foto Sounds  (See Fig 1.4 below) , and 1985 Music (1985, n.d.) (See Fig 1.5 below) to influence our release strategy and branding + content approach. Drawing inspiration from their successful engagement tactics, we created our posts, what we wrote, and content to resonate with our target audience while maintaining authenticity and relevance. Studying industry professionals in this way served as a guiding framework for shaping our own online identity, ensuring that our social media platforms effectively reflect the vision we both have of Semblance Records.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.3 - Inner Circle theme for their Bandcamp page which influenced our graphic design choice 


 

 

Figure 1.4 - One of Foto Sounds earlier posts, influencing our graphic design choice and decision to release VA album




 

 

Figure 1.5 - More artwork/ branding influence from 1985 and label leader Alix Perez usage of  waterfall release strategy for his ‘Gloom EP’

 

 

 

 

 

 

BANDCAMP SETUP - [9th April 2024]

 

 Went on to set up the Bandcamp record label account next, unaware initially that there was a monthly subscription fee but I arranged for Steve to set up a standing order to me for half the amount (£8.40 each a month). After splitting this cost, this felt like a reasonable price to pay for such a good platform, though this would need to be reviewed later down the line when we know more about the number of sales we make. Stephen created visuals and graphics to fit the dimensions of the Bandcamp page once I had set it up and we were pleased with the overall result (see Fig 1.6 below).


 

 

Figure 1.6 - Finished Bandcamp page with similar style to Inner Circle Recordings


 

 

 

 

I had some real issues with Bandcamp once the page was setup, somehow my personal account and the label account intertwined which made it harder forus both to login. I emailed Bandcamp to outline the issue and they resolved it for me (See Fig 1.7 below).

 

 

 

Figure 1.7 - Email contact about login issues on Bandcamp and their support letting me know the issue was resolved 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEGAL SIDE AND SETTING UP SEMBLANCE RECORDS AS A LEGITIMATE BUSINESS - [9th April 2024]


 

Today was dedicated to sorting out the legal and business aspects of the record label. This was all new to me so I researched how to best go about it (Redpath, 2022) (UK Curly Girl, 2023).  I submitted a request to the Companies House on the GOV website, naming me and Stephen as directors (See Fig 1.8 and 1.9  below). 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.8 - Entering director details for Semblance Records on the GOV website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.9 - Completion of application to become official business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once this application was submitted and paid for, I then set us up with a PayPal account so that we could receive payments on Bandcamp (See Fig 1.10 below).

 

 

Figure 1.10 - Setting up a business PayPal account




 

 

 

PAID ADVERTISING FOR CLIPS ON INSTAGRAM AND TIKTOK  [10th April Onwards 2024]



 

Upon discussion, we both decided we should utilise social media paid advertising initially. This is a practice I would usually be against but felt like the right decision based on the quality of the music and releasing it on a newly set up label without a substantial following. I feel all four tracks are worthy of being released on some of the top labels, with huge audiences in the dubstep and drum and bass community so this was a way to expand our reach at a relatively low cost. We decided to focus this strategy on both Instagram and TikTok, running paid advertising on clips of each track with Sol's visuals. The first video I posted on TikTok played around twenty seconds of the introduction to ‘First Off’ before the drop and we noticed it didn’t get tremendous engagement results. We decided to reupload it with a short amount of time before the drop and the number of likes, saves, and plays almost doubled in the same 24-hour timeframe. This may well have been due to other factors such as weather and the day we posted but the difference was substantial enough to confirm that shorter clips were the way forward for better engagement. We did notice a drop off on viewing numbers on both Instagram and TikTok for the last clip we posted of ‘Jesters’. The video was uploaded on a Saturday afternoon when the sun had come out for the first time this year so the number of people on social media was much lower than usual, we decided to pause the ad until the evening after discussion (See Fig 1.11 below) but the weather and the time of day we post is something we will consider carefully before running future ads. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.11 - Discussion about ad that we ran for Stephens track ‘Jesters’




 

                         

 

WATERFALL RELEASE STRATEGY -  [10th April Onwards 2024]


 

We aimed to employ a marketing strategy for the EP, one that had sparked my interest recently and become one subject of research for my dissertation on music marketing strategies: the waterfall release method (Tom DuPree III, 2021). The premise of this strategy is simple yet effective: releasing singles from the EP at intervals, promoting each track individually. With each subsequent release, the strategy leverages the growing attention and streams gathered by the previous releases as listeners eagerly explore the new additions to the EP.  We decided to upload the tracks in this way to Soundcloud, and teaser clips for each track alongside Sol’s visuals on social media. During these promotions, we pushed the EP on Bandcamp that we had set up as a pre-order, and got our first sale (See Fig 1.12 below)

Figure 1.12 -  First pre-order sale from Bandcamp paid into PayPal


 

 

 

 

We opted to utilize Soundcloud for this strategy rather than Spotify, allowing time for playlist consideration. From past releases on the platform, I've observed that securing placement on playlists with substantial followings can significantly impact overall streaming numbers. For instance, my debut release, 'Late Twist,' earned a spot on a playlist with four hundred saves. While this playlist may not boast the same scale as some of the larger ones on Spotify, it continues to deliver consistent daily streams, illustrating the considerable benefits of playlist inclusion. We uploaded the fully finished EP onto Spotify using the Soundcloud distribution service, and then I went about entering the EP for playlist consideration (Music, 2019) (See Fig 1.13 below). Though it only allows you to send one track for consideration, the whole EP is considered once that track is sent. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.13 -  Entering my track ‘First Off’ for playlist consideration




 

EMAIL CONTACT WITH SAM @ DBS -  [11th April 2024]


 

Something that has yielded great engagement results in the past for both me and Stephen, has been collaborating with Sam Willis from dBs to share news about releases on the dBs social media accounts. The Instagram and Facebook accounts both have huge followings so I wanted to utilise this while we still had the chance. I sent over an email to Sam outlining the project plans and how we were collaborating together with fellow student Solomon Clements from dBs Bristol. The initial email and his response can be seen in Fig 1.14 below. 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.14 - Finished Bandcamp page with similar style to Inner Circle Recordings

 

 

 


 

In his response, he asked if we had a press release, something we had completely overlooked. I had a vague idea of how to go about writing a good press release but did some extra research into the subject (Murray, 2016) (Ditto Music, 2021) and set about writing one straight after receiving Sam’s email. I wanted to encapsulate the general theme of the EP and label so included some exciting descriptive language to build anticipation. One of the really exciting things about this module has been the collaboration between dBs students between Plymouth and Bristol, so I made sure that was a key feature on the press release (See Fig 1.15 below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.15 - Finished press release for the ‘FORM EP’  [Full press release can be found at bottom of this page]







TRACK FEEDBACK FROM AMOSS FOR ‘FIRST OFF’ AND ‘TURBULENCE’


 

To make sure both of my tracks on the EP sounded as good as they possibly could, I asked for professional feedback from DJ/Music Producer, ‘Amoss’ (Amoss, 2021) (See Fig 1.16 and 1.17 below). This is a practice I have implemented since very early on in my music production journey and he’s helped me make some excellent final touches/tweaks on all of the music I have released. This, combined with feedback given by Matt and the other students during our feedback sessions allowed me to feel confident with the finished versions of these songs. Listening back to the tracks during our feedback sessions was a really helpful practice, not only because I appreciate what all of the extremely musically talented students in our class have to say but also because the sessions were always held in the Neve studio, an excellent room to check final mixdowns and master recordings. 


 

 

Figure 1.16 - Amoss music production feedback for my track ‘First Off’


 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.17 - Amoss music production feedback for my track ‘Turbulence’

 

 

 

 

 

MASTERING TRACKS


 

Initially, we planned to send the EP to a mastering engineer, but with costs already higher than expected and my financial situation not being great, we decided to master the tracks ourselves. This is something I have struggled with in the past so I sought advice from Stephen. He has experience mastering his tracks in the past and is excellent at getting maximum loudness out of his tracks without sacrificing sound quality and dynamic range. Upon discussion on this topic, we decided to aim for around -8LUFS respectively for our tracks. We wanted to keep the EP cohesive, so aiming for the same range of loudness was essential. Stephen sent me an in-depth YouTube guide to getting the most volume out of your mixdowns and mastering, utilising clippers, top-down mixing and limiters (Inverse Audio, 2024). I spent a whole weekend implementing the tips from this video onto both tracks but had particular difficulty getting ‘First Off’ to the required volume without losing sound quality. I decided to push the limiter and volume up to -6RMS and worked my way backward, cleaning up the mixdown until all the elements fit together cohesively.






 

SENDING TRACKS TO LOCAL DJS AND RADIO SHOWS 


 

Implementing the waterfall release method offered another benefit: completing the EP well in advance of the official release date. This provided us with ample time to distribute the music to DJs and radio stations, as they often appreciate having exclusive unreleased tracks to feature. Two examples of this that paid dividends were a dubstep podcast and platform called ‘Deep Tempo’ (See Fig 1.18 below) (Deep Tempo, 2023) and a DJ from Edinburgh who has supported previous music of mine, Anikonik (See Fig 1.19 below). Featuring on ‘Deep Tempo’s’ podcast has been a personal goal of mine since I started producing dubstep, so I was very proud to have a track from this project featured. As well as playing the track, they supported the label by giving it a shout-out and following us on Soundcloud (Deep Tempo, 2024). Anikonik, who has mix releases on RAM records played a packed dubstep show in Edinburgh on the 20th April and loved my track ‘First Off’ and played it during her performance (See Fig 1.20). I also sent the EP to American-based dubstep DJ, ‘Kay Elkay’ who has had some amazing releases on some of my favourite record labels recently. He posted a story recently stating his support for the EP and that he would be playing some of the tracks at an upcoming show in Charleston, South Carolina (See Fig 1.21 below).





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.18 - Email contact with ‘Deep Tempo’ submitting ‘First Off’ and ‘Jesters’ for potential inclusion in their podcast



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.19 - Sending both of my tracks from the EP to drum and bass & dubstep DJ  ‘Anikonik’ 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.20 - Anikoniks reaction to playing ‘First Off’ 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.21 - Support for the EP from American based artist ‘Kay Elkay’

 

 

 


 

I'm thrilled whenever anyone shows support for my music, so having three top professionals in the scene go out of their way to support the EP was incredibly exciting and encouraging for the future. I view networking as an essential aspect of cultivating genuine and organic fanbases. Thus, this, along with the paid advertising strategy mentioned earlier, felt like a solid foundation to embark on the label journey.





 

FIRST SUBMISSIONS AND DECISION TO RELEASE VA ALBUM IN THE SUMMER



 

Shortly after the label's public launch, we received our first submission via email from a local DJ and producer known as 'Asymmetry'. Impressed by the track, especially as we were contemplating the idea of releasing a VA (Various Artists) album for the summer, we engaged in discussions and eventually decided to feature his work on the album. We emailed back our interest to him (See Fig 1.22 and 1.23). Around the same time, artists 'Kay Elkay' (previously discussed) and 'Culplex' reached out expressing their eagerness to contribute to the label (refer to Fig 1.24 and 1.25). With these three tracks, in addition to our own contributions, we laid a strong foundation for crafting a diverse artist album slated for a summer release.


 

 

Figure 1.22 - Email from William May with first demo submission to the label



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.23 - Discussion about ‘Asymmetry’ submission


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.24 - Interest in featuring on the record label from artist ‘Culplex’




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.25 - Contact with ‘Kay Elkay’ about potential feature on VA album

 

For me, a VA album is a great way to expand a record labels reach because you gain engagement from a wide range of different artists fanbases. As stated above, it is a tactic utilised by Bristol based record label, ‘Foto Sounds’ & also was also successful for Falmouth based record label ‘Inner Circle Recordings’. Both albums featured eight and ten artists respectively, leaving room for a few more artists/tracks. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.25 - Inner Circle Recordings VA album ‘Ground Zero’ featuring ten different artists










 

ARTIST CONTRACT

 

Now that we had a release strategy in place and the EP release was close, it was time to start focusing on putting an artist contract together for when we signed artists for future releases in the summer. 

Me and Stephen have both had experience signing contracts for record labels we’ve released music on previously and I still had a copy of the contract I signed with ‘Inner Circle Recordings’ so I combined the layout of this one with some research (Other Record Labels, 2022). We both agreed on a three-year term from the date of signing the contract and a 50/50 royalty split, applying to any physical copies or digital downloads/online streams (See Fig 1.26 below for first part of the contract).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1.26 - Layout and first part of artist contract for Semblance Records

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FORM EP PRESS RELEASE


The new EP "FORM" Showcases a dynamic Collaboration Between Deft Design and  LUYAH (dBs Plymouth), Combining the deep, dark and murky sounds of Drum and Bass and Dubstep with audio-reactive visuals on TouchDesigner by Solomon Clements (dBs Bristol). 

 

Plymouth, UK –  8th April 2024 – SEMBLANCE, an innovative label co-founded by artists Deft Design and Luyah, is proud to announce the upcoming release of their collaborative EP titled "FORM." This EP represents a fusion of diverse talents and genres, featuring two tracks by LUYAH and two by Deft Design, spanning the realms of drum and bass and dubstep.

 

Deft Design and LUYAH are both students at dBs Institute in Plymouth, situated in the vibrant music scene of Southwest UK. Their partnership extends beyond music, as they join forces with visual artist Sol, based in Bristol and also a dBs Institute student, to create a truly immersive experience. Sol's audio-reactive visuals, crafted specifically for each track on "FORM," will be showcased alongside the EP's release on social media platforms and YouTube.

 

Explaining the concept behind "FORM," Deft Design shares, "We wanted to encapsulate the synergy between audio and visuals, merging the intensity of drum and bass with the depth of dubstep. The name 'FORM' reflects this fusion, where sonic and visual elements come together to create a captivating experience."

 

Each of the four tracks on "FORM" is designed to resonate with electronic music enthusiasts, particularly those who enjoy the atmosphere of high-energy raves and expansive soundsystems. The EP promises a journey through deep, dark electronic compositions that push boundaries and ignite the senses.

 

"FORM" will be available on all major streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music, as well as for purchase on Bandcamp, offering listeners an opportunity to support emerging talents in the electronic music scene.

 

For more information, interviews, or media inquiries, please contact:

 

[Steve or Henry]

[semblancerecords@gmail.com]

[07517221025]

[ https://linktr.ee/semblance.records ]

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