Day In The Life: David Steele, managing director of Embryonic Music
We aim to nurture and develop new talent
Friday 04 July 2008
I leave my home in Berkshire and drive to our office in Holland Park, London. In the car I usually listen to CDs or tune in to The Chris Moyles Show. I tend to arrive by 9am and the first thing I do is sit down with a coffee and go through my e-mails and agenda for the day with Laura Colquhoun, my general manager.
Embryonic Music is a management, development record label, publishing company and music consultancy which I set up after leaving V2, where I’d been managing director for 11 years. I decided to have a “360-style company” which could deal with all facets of the music business. Record companies have evolved over the last few years and, while there is much lamenting of the old days, I feel that there are many opportunities in what is always an exciting and fast-moving business. Our company aims to nurture and develop new talent, and work with established artists and other businesses involved in the industry.
We have received some artwork and logo designs for a rock band we manage, Sixteen Layers. As a new band, the look and feel of their logo is extremely important, so we spend quite a bit of time debating and fine tuning the various designs. The band will get the final say – we will just give input and advise them that the logo needs to work for various applications, from CDs to T-shirts and adverts.
We end up with a satisfactory consensus on a great logo, so everyone’s happy. We then discuss how the band’s rehearsals are coming along, as they are in the middle of preparing for a London show at Another Music=Another Kitchen, at the Proud Galleries in Camden later this month.
The music industry midweek sales charts come in. The new Feeder album, Silent Cry, has just been released and we are delighted with it reaching No 5. Feeder are on The Echo Label and we work as consultants for them, advising on the marketing strategy and co-ordinating the team around them. We inform the team of the good news so they can relay that info to the media they work with. I also call Pinnacle, the distributors of the record, to discuss how retail are feeling about the sales and our stock levels.
I then leave for a meeting with Whizz Kid, the production company making the TV programme for Independents Day. The company is run by Malcolm Gerrie and the meeting is with him and producer Andy Wood. We have several acts booked for live performances and a number of artists and independent label heads are being interviewed, so we draw up a shortlist of other acts to approach.
I arrive at a rehearsal studio in Latimer Road, west London, to watch a young band from Southampton do a short live set. They approached us to manage them and, although we really liked their songs and look,we needed to see them perform live before making a decision. We are impressed, and when we chat to them afterwards we discover that they are really bright, focused and industry savvy. I will be talking to their representative in the next few days.
Then it’s back to the office to check e-mails. I get an update on the artwork and production of the Independents Day album. We have spent the last three months putting it together and are now at the manufacturing stage. We have been sourcing tracks, commissioning recordings, briefing artwork, coordinating mastering and liaising with all the parties involved. I update Alison Wenham from AIM and Marie Henley of Get It Organised, who have also worked tirelessly on this project. We are extremely proud to have put together an album which celebrates the vibrant independent music sector.
I receive a press update on the band Exit Ten. I control their label Deep Burn Records, which has a deal through Pinnacle. The band hasapage feature in Kerrang magazine, along with a great review of their amazing performance to a packed tent at the recent Download festival. I discuss this with the band’s manager and talk about the next step with the band.
I then have a meeting with DaVinChe, a multi-talented urban artist, producer and writer who we co-manage with Jackie Davidson, who runs Hardzone. We discuss plans to release DaVinChe’s first single, “Rider”, and what type of video we want to make. In the urban market, the video is crucial.
I call Martin Goldsmith, the MD at Cooking Vinyl, who has just received the forthcoming Nitin Sawhney album. I am acting as A&R consultant to Nitin, having previously signed him at V2. Hewas contractually free, so I brokered a deal with Cooking Vinyl, believing them to be the perfect home for his unquestionable talent. Martin Loves Nitin’s new album, and is very excited about working with him.
We receive video treatments for Feeder’s next single, “Tracing Lines”. These treatments are video directors’ interpretations of the video they want to make. I select three I like and then talk to the directors’ representatives to get more detail. I send all the treatments to the band for their feedback.
Ihave a final round-up of the daywith Laura, and catch up on any unanwered e-mails and phone calls. After work I go to see a new band who are playing a gig in Camden. Unfortunately, they are awful, so I go for a drink with friends before heading off home.
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