LLAMA030 Pete Le Freq ft Coco Street – Give It Up

Out Everywhere Now

LLAMA030
Pete Le Freq featuring Coco Street
Give it Up

LLAMA030

Featuring:
1. Give It Up (Original Vocal)

Sometimes you just meet the right people at the right time. And this is what happened when Pete Le Freq got talking to Coco Street. Vocals were recorded, and this shimmering nu funk disco house monster was born. Watch out for remixes coming soon!

Cheers

Pete Le Freq
Llama Farm Recordings

Special Thanks go to Dimitri @ CMS for the Mastering.

Time to cut the newbies some slack.

I’ve seen quite a few posts recently with various djs complaining about the next generation of djs.

The main thrust of their argument is that technology has taken over from the skills of beatmatching, key matching and the timing of mixing.

 

So what do I think about this? Well, lets look back 15 years. It was the height of big beat, Daft Punk and Stardust were at the top of their game. House music pretty much ruled the charts. Everyone knew someone with a set of decks. Didn’t matter if they were direct, belt or even hamster-driven, there was one or two people out of each friendship group who either attempted to replicate the famous DJs of the day or had a brother (or indeed sister!) who had a DJ for a mate.

I was one the people who took up djing at this time. There was very little whinging from the previous generation of djs – there could even be said to be a bit of excitement about the newbies starting out on their journey of music-related discovery.

As with every fad, some people stuck at it (myself included), while others sold decks, and moved on to the next thing. The ones who kept going, learnt their craft, made different mistakes from the previous generation, and pushed the boundaries more.

 

So let’s compare this to the current crop of wannabe DJs. So what’s changed? In a word, the kit that is used now makes the mechanics of djing easier. And I use that phrase carefully. Because its not really what djing is about. The guys who came up with me from 15 or so years ago learnt on vinyl. Then re-learnt for CD. Then re-learnt AGAIN for mp3 and laptops. But how you do it doesn’t matter as much as what’s being put into it by the dj themselves. Djing is about linking your feelings about music, sharing them with others in a big kind of mutual appreciation session.

Very few people get this straight away. It takes time, experience, observation, a great deal of mistakes and a fair bit of self-reflection before you start to spot where you’re going wrong.

We may have learnt the lessons, but those doing it now don’t know them yet. They may not have experienced the same emotional connection yet, but can we really moan when they are just where we were all those years ago?

 

In conclusion then, we need to give these guys a break. Let them get experience and then see if they stick at it. The ones that do, could well be keepers. So lets not blast them for not knowing what we had to learn ourselves.

Buying your own music: the lowest form of self-promotion?

I was a bit shocked recently when I discovered there was another level of what can only be described of fraud in the music industry. Its something that’s joked about – but until now I didn’t believe it was actually true.

Put simply: labels getting their artists to buy their own music, or labels buying their own releases.

My instant reaction is that this sounds retarded. In fact, to most people its the lowest form of self-promotion – and very costly too. So why would anyone do it? Its kind of the music industry equivalent of getting someone to bump your bids on Ebay….

Well, given the current low state of sales in the industry, you can kind of understand why someone would consider it. If buying 20 copies of your own track gets you top 10, and more people “notice” your release, then you sell 40 copies as a result, then you’d think it would be worth it. However, by the time you factor in the stores share (lets say its a nice easy 50%), you would have to sell double the number you bought to break even. This is already starting to total up…..

Then there’s whether you do it on one store, or a couple. Which means the costs add up quickly. Say the label has released on 5 stores, buying 20 copies on each store as a starter to get them kicked off.

So for a 100 downloads of their single, they would have to sell 200 to break even. And given that 20 copies would cost around $40, its going to set them back $200 to buy those copies.

And that doesn’t even factor in if the release is a pile of crap. In which case, the investment is $200, plus the cost of the release. The current returns in house music especially, make this a high risk strategy for making money. Combine this with someone buying plays to get them more noticed, and you have a set of seriously dodgy tools which probably won’t get you any admiration from your peers.

I would love to have a list of labels or producers who actually do this and get them to justify why they did it. I’m still shocked that anyone would think its a good idea. Or maybe I’m just naïve and everyone is doing it.

 

 

Daft Punk: Is going back the way forward?

Daft Punk’s new album has got a a lot of people all a-quiver. The hype has been, well quite frankly annoying, due to the sheer scale of people tweeting/facebook posting.

One of the talking points has been its effect on the future direction of the mainstream genre of EDM. Will it cause people to return to house’s roots of disco, soul or funk?

For the last few years, commercial dance music has appeared to be a preset driven, laptop orientated template-fest, where similar sounds dominate. The major labels have employed producers to give their artists a house “edge”, and as I’ve previously written, when that happens, cash drives out the “soul” of music. Its homogenised, safe, and for the house lover, a snore-inducing experience.

So when the house music community saw that Daft Punk where returning to the party, everyone got quite excited. Then it was announced they were working with Nile Rodgers of Chic fame. Could DISCO be back? Will they move the dance music community back towards live sounds?

Err. I don’t think so. Reading the album notes to their new album, the sheer scale of the live element is incredibly impressive. Orchestras, session musicians (some of the best in the world!). This all adds up to one thing. A boatload of cash.

The last EDM push was based on what anyone could make on their laptops. (What I like to call the “Ooh I’ve got Ableton, I’m a producer” factor). What Daft Punk have done, is take the bit they like from that, looked at what worked for them and what didn’t, and decided that actually, the original ways are the best sounding for them. There was talk of experimentation with various ages of microphones for the best sound. Lets be honest, not everyone can afford those.

So what exactly am I getting at? Will the return of Daft Punk have the same effect as their initial impact? Probably not. But at least it might make some pull their fingers out of their backside and delete their templates.

DJ Sneak Vs The World: Or does he just have a point?

Dj Sneak has, over the last few years, caused a bit of a furore on social media, with his high profile “calling out” of various djs, and producers. His targets have have included the likes of Swedish House Mafia, Seth Troxler, Armand Van Helden, Tommie Sunshine and Deadmau5. All these guys have had recent commercial success, and have engaged with Sneak back in various different ways, some antagonistic and some just plain blocked him. So what is his beef, and does he have a point?

Sneak himself, for those not in the know, was one of the second wave of house DJs to come out of Chicago in the late 80s/early 90s. So from this we can gather, he’s been around for a while, seen quite a lot. He was even name-checked on Daft Punk’s seminal “Homework” album and even wrote the lyrics to “Digital Love”. So, a bit of a pedigree.

So what has got him so riled? The word that comes up most is FAKE. This is what links every incident. Swedish House Mafia (to start you could see this would wind him up, since Sneak is the self-proclaimed “House Gangster”) were accused of “cheating their fans” by playing recorded sets that were linked to pyrotechnics.

Given the amount of money they were able to demand for their high profile stadium gigs, you start to think that if they are pre-recorded, there is an element of truth in what Sneak is saying. He comes from the days when it was all about working the vinyl, and it was near impossible to “Fake” any part of a dj set. He sees this as calling them out. The problem is, for those who don’t know his background, its seen as jealous whinging.

The second part of Sneak’s argument is to do with respecting the underground. This leaves him on slightly shakier ground in that mainstream EDM is always a result of the underground. The difference this time, is that whereas before, the cream of producers rose to the top, had a number of small successes, then returned to the underground, this time the major labels have seen house as a way to make some serious cash. And they’ve hit the all you can eat buffet with seriously high metabolisms.

What happens when the majors get hold of anything? It gets diluted, homogenised, and the soul of it is lost in the scramble to make money. This is why guys from the higher paid echelons of the scene get asked to work with high profile artists, to bring their “edge” to what otherwise be formless shapeless throwaway songs.

They’ve done the same with dubstep, now they are back with house. Its an endless cycle.

This has caused real worry for those in the underground since they rely to an extent on the mainstream to attract and lure people to the purer stuff. When the mainstream stuff had little link to the underground scene, the underground suffers from a lack of new fans.

So is he right, and do I agree with him? Well, in terms of calling them out, I kind of think fair enough. DJ fees are so low right now, that anyone earning the kind of money they are better be damn good to show their worth.

But does calling them out go against the original spirit of house music? House is supposed to be about a shared love and experience. But then you could say that even when you love someone, you should still tell them when they are being an arse.

I suppose what I’m saying is right argument, possibly the wrong way of going about it…..but then if it gets people talking………

 

How NOT to run a label : A Guide to Making it up as You Go Along

How NOT to run a label : A Guide to Making it up as You Go Along

One question that comes up a lot is “How do you start a label?” Well, it’s really not just one question. That question is really the opener for a series of questions on the subject of labels. Here are some of my musings on the subject of running a label, or simply making it up as you go along……

Why start your own label?

Llama Farm came about because I’d made a few tunes that were of a level that I was told was good enough to release. At that point, I had no idea what I was doing and had no contacts with any other artists really. It came as a way for getting my music out there, and making a few quid in the process. It started out on just one shop, then expanded to 3, and is now (4 years later) on around 30-40 outlets. In hindsight, starting a label is not something to do lightly. I had no idea how much time it would take up, no idea about contracts, branding, marketing, or anything else that I was doing. Common sense gets you a fair way, but having some degree of business acumen will really help you.

It’s now much easier to get in touch with bigger artists, send them tracks, and generally make a nuisance of yourself. This also means it’s easier to get in touch with labels and find out if they like your stuff. I would say, if you’re just starting out and are currently not professionally released, it would be better to get an EP or two on other people’s labels before starting your own, simply so you get a better idea of the processes involved.

How do you find new tracks for your label?

The majority of releases on Llama Farm have come from a few outlets. Firstly, the early releases were mainly my own productions. These were great because I ploughed all my early royalties into the label, and it meant I could then sign some established artists and remixers. These are great because it maintains the link between your label and you.

The second group are established artists, who bring a reputation and marketing gravitas to what you are doing. They can cost you a bit more money but are worth it because you are more likely to make that money back. They can also have certain requirements (such as professionally mastered releases, but I’ll come back to that later.) which also helps you find out what the guys higher up expect from a label. I generally email/contact them directly and ask for EPs/remixes or whatever.

The third and final group are the hardest to find but also the most rewarding. These are the debut producers, the guys who are ready for that first release. I’ve had quite a few debut EPs, and those artists have since gone from strength to strength. (For example, Jackin Box are a production duo who I gave a debut release to and who have since featured on some of the biggest labels in the genre and have toured pretty much everywhere!) I see handing guys their break as a bit of a privilege. It’s kind of paying back the guys who gave me a leg up. They generally contact me through Facebook or SoundCloud. The majority who contact me are absolute crap, but occasionally you can find a diamond.

What do I call my label, and will anything do?

Naming a label is quite a personal thing to do. Because you need to think this as a long haul venture, picking something that’s catchy and memorable is a bit of a must. It also is going to be associated with you, so it needs to reflect your personality.

Llama Farm as a name came about due to a random conversation that a good friend of mine overheard whilst in a train queue. The name stuck, and it appealed to our sense of humour (yes, its a bit surreal, but it was very “us”).

Doing some research before you go about naming your new baby is a very good idea. You want to make sure that no one can confuse your label with anything else in the genre and that people can see a clear “brand” in the name. This ties in with coming up with a logo that is memorable and has some scope to play around with for artwork for your releases.

Is there anything else I need to set up before I try and get my tracks in the shops?

Once you’ve got the name, the logo, and a few tracks ready for release, now is a good time to start a web presence in the name of the label. Setting up SoundCloud accounts, Facebook pages ,and maybe a blog are all good ways of getting yourself known about. The best way to get get yourself known quickly though is to get yourself a radio show. I do a weekly 1-hour slot (Tuesdays @ 8:00pm GMT/BST, shameless plug!), and it’s that that will give you a bigger profile. Your own website is equally important. The best advice is to start small and build slowly and at a sensible pace….

What’s a distributor, and do I need one?

Llama Farm started selling on just one shop. This was easy to manage. One set of metadata, one set of artwork to upload, one set of masters. When you expand to 4 or 5 shops, things start getting tricky. Most of the shops have different interfaces, different data file requirements and even different specs for artwork.

A distributor works as an intermediary between you and the shops. They do the hard work of putting the data that you send them into the right formats, uploading everything and even arranging exclusives and extra promo on some of the sites. For this they can take a royalty before handing over the rest to you. This is why its a tricky business decision.

When to get a distributor is a tricky question. When it starts getting to much to spend your evenings organising the same information to 10 stores, its probably time to get a distro. Plus they can get you on to sites that you normally wouldn’t have access to. Itunes and Beatport cant be accessed directly, so for the the expanding label, looking at a distro is a good option.

How often should I release songs on the label?

The short answer: often enough so people remember your label and what it stands for. But not so often that you annoy people. The issue with lots of releases is the quality can drop, and people don’t check your label as often. Also, if you are sending out promo emails, it can really take a lot of time to get everything promoted properly.

My unwritten rule is not within 3 weeks of each other…..means you’ve got time to promote each one properly. The biggest time difference between Llama Farm releases was about 4 months…..possibly too long, but at least when I get one together it looks like an event!

How many tracks should I have on each release?

This is a bit of an issue for me. In the old vinyl days, you couldn’t have more than 4 tracks on a record. Digital has changed this completely. I have seen someone release an ep with 8 remixes of the same track, plus one original. ITS RIDICULOUS. DON’T DO IT.

If you’ve got 8 remixes, break them up into 2 separate remix eps. AN EP WITH 9 TRACKS ON IT IS AN ALBUM………

With Llama Farm, I run to the simple idea of a maximum of a 5 track ep. 2 originals, plus 3 remixes. 4 track ep, 1 original plus 3 remixes……Rant over.

What’s the process involved in signing someone else’s track to my label?

This is more straight forward than you might think. First step is easy – tell them you like it and would be interested in signing and releasing it.

Then comes the deal. Most labels split the royalties down the middle, 50/50.

This is a good start. If its an established artist with a good track record, they may ask for an advance. If its too much, and you can’t afford it, you could offer them a higher royalty. Use your common sense here – at the end of the day, this is a business!

They may ask for a contract -I’ve got a standard one for Llama Farm which is for a 3 year period, and can be tweaked to cover either either a straight royalty deal or for an advance.

You send it to them, the sign it and send you a master wav/aiff file of their track.

I usually ask if they have a name for the ep in mind. Though I always have some silly ideas knocking around.

And then you release it………

What happens if I pick up a track, then decide not to release it?

Stay in discussion with the artist and keep them posted. Not always the easiest thing to do. Some may ask to be released if things take too long. The main question would be why did you sign it in the first place?!

How do I build a promo list?

Get DJs who you think might like your stuff, contact them through various social media, and ask their honest opinion. Some DJs are pretty good with their feedback, others not so much. If you’re lucky enough to know some of the big guys in your genre, you can ask if you can send them some promos.

Thankfully, most djs love freebies, so chances are they will reply in the positive.

The secret to a good promo list is to have enough contacts to get a good amount of support, but not so much that you’re giving it to everybody.

REMEMBER, djs are your market; if too many people get it for free it eats into your royalties!

Should I use a promo service?

I don’t. Some people do. Its up to you. You do need to take into consideration any costs involved, and its affect on who actually has you releases. Promo services send out to LOTS of DJs. For example, some of these can send out as many as 1500 promos to various people.

Something to remember is that these people are also your main customer base – if you are giving it away, you aren’t selling it. I keep control by having a list of about 60. Though im in the process of cutting the list down further by getting rid of anyone who hasn’t replied…….

Why should I pay for mastering?

Not mastering releases was one of the biggest mistakes I made early on with Llama Farm. I didn’t know I needed to. But, to be fair, all the eps were my own, and I didn’t know any better.

These guys can take a track that you think sounds good, rub some magic mastering dust on it and make it sound AWESOME. Your mastering house will usually specify the levels they need on each track, and this will give the best result.

I currently use CMS Mastering in Belgium for Llama Farm, and its costs about £60 for an ep. ITS WORTH EVERY PENNY. Dimitri of CMS, (one half of Belgiums top notch house duo Swirl People) has some settings on his plug-ins that have honestly taken my breath away.

A poorly mastered release can put people off buying it, and a lot of distributors won’t touch a label that doesn’t use an outside mastering house. Think of it as an investment.

I would say though, that if I’m going to be spending money on mastering, your track must be pretty good to start off with!

What’s an advance?

An advance is chunk of money a label offers against future sales. So, once you have an advance, you won’t receive any more cash until you’ve made the money of the value of the advance plus costs. For example, if you get paid $100 advance, and all costs are $30, you won’t start receiving any royalties until the total label cut goes over $130.

Advances are only dished out when you are basically the equivalent of Jason Statham in an action film – you need to be bankable to a point where someone is going to get their money back that is invested.

Should I pay fees for remixers?

If they are good, and you think you can make the money back , then, yeah.

Not that it always makes the money back…….so if they ask for $650 for a remix, its probably too much. Or you’ve never heard of them………..

What kind of deal can I expect from a label, and will I get an advance?

Being brutally honest, a 50/50 split is what you can expect. This means that the label takes half, and you get the rest, after any expenses are taken out (mastering, promo services, artwork etc.). Most independents work in this way. Anything extra is a bonus 🙂

With Llama Farm, for a second ep or a more established artist, I will offer a slightly bigger cut, but if I’ve not heard of you, I’m not going to part with cash lightly. In some cases, I will offer an advance, which basically means I reckon its going to make AT LEAST the value of the advance, plus costs.

Once its made the advance back, the deal then reverts to a 50/50 split.

For remixes, a 50/50 split is the usual. You get 50%, the original artist will get half of the labels royalty, and the label will make 25%. Or, ask for a straight fee – keeps things a lot easier.

So to wrap it all up…..

In conclusion, running a label is fun. But also hard work. If you’re game, and put the hours in when you need to (!) it can be very rewarding……..