In this exclusive interview with music industry stalwart Andrejs Lihvars, delve into the journey and insights of a digital label pioneer. From his beginnings in the music sector to the revolutionary approach of TheSoul Music in artist discovery and promotion, Andrejs shares invaluable advice for aspiring artists and unveils the transformative role of platforms like LabelRadar in the modern music landscape. Get an insider's look at the future of record labels and learn how to navigate the evolving music industry with expert guidance from Andrejs.
Interview with Andrejs Lihvars:
Question: What initially drew you to the music industry and working at a record label?
Andrejs: Being surrounded by many talented musicians who needed help with aspects beyond creating music led me here. I know some incredibly talented individuals who don’t even have social media accounts. So, after 16 years of providing support, I find myself where I am now, on a journey that has felt quite natural.
Question: Can you share a memorable or defining moment in your career that had a significant impact on you?
Andrejs: That would be the release of the song “Busy Bee,” which amassed 3.5 billion views on YouTube within a quarter and topped the TikTok charts just a month later. This success significantly changed our promotional model.
Question: How do you handle the pressure and demands of the music industry while maintaining your own well-being?
Andrejs: We’re fortunate not to feel that pressure, as we aren’t dependent on the music industry. We have our own creators, audience, and content. We integrate our releases into our existing content. Most labels are vying for influencers and purchasing promotional posts. We’re a unique digital label that few can rival.
Question: Which song or album best describes your life and why?
Andrejs: “No Tomorrow” by Camo & Krooked. It encapsulates the importance of living in the moment and not delaying. You can only rely on yourself, and you shouldn’t be overly concerned with others’ opinions. Also, I believe this track is an auditory masterpiece in terms of sound design.
Question: Is there a specific piece of advice you'd give yourself back when you first started in the industry?
Andrejs: Stick to your path, don’t be swayed by others, and keep your plans to yourself! Your wildest ideas are worth pursuing!
Question: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Andrejs: As a musician, I want the power to freeze time to avoid ruining a track! But, joking aside, I would pick teleportation.
Question: Can you share a mentor or role model who has had a significant influence on your career?
Andrejs: My lifelong mentor is TheSoul Publishing’s CCO, Anastasia Vinogradova, who entirely changed my perspective on the music industry. Many music labels follow a similar model, but Anastasia showed me a new direction and helped me see the potential for a Digital Label grounded in an award-winning digital studio. Of course, I also admire what Clive Davis and numerous other executives have accomplished. But the industry is evolving, and we need fresh models.
Question: What qualities do you look for in an artist when considering signing them to your label?
Andrejs: We seek high-quality music that can complement our videos and resonate with our audience. This music must be original, and we do not accept tracks with vocals from royalty-free libraries.
Question: What are some red flags that may discourage you from signing an artist?
Andrejs: Several red flags might make us hesitate before signing an artist. Relying heavily on royalty-free loops and samples can create potential copyright issues if the music is used commercially.
Question: What are the common mistakes artists make when approaching record labels?
Andrejs: Many artists, in their eagerness, don't patiently wait for a label's response before releasing their music independently. We make it a point to respond to every artist, and we're grateful to LabelRadar for ensuring we don’t overlook any tracks. Related to this issue is that artists often lack a well-prepared release strategy, which is even harder to implement without a label’s backing.
Question: Can you provide some guidance on the importance of networking and building industry connections?
Andrejs: Networking is crucial. Many opportunities aren’t advertised – they go to people already known in the industry. Networking helps you stay up-to-date with trends in your field and enables you to build your professional brand.
Question: What are the qualities you look for in an artist's demo or EP before considering signing them?
Andrejs: I want to help dedicated musicians reach the listeners their music deserves.
So, when reviewing a demo, I first consider who this music will resonate with. An existing fan base reassures me that the artist understands their core listener. But even if previous streams are low, I won’t be discouraged if I can envision who this artist is trying to reach. Amazing music can get lost in the platform's algorithms sometimes: in some genres, 80% of artists have less than 50 monthly listeners.
But I believe their music needs to reach those specific ears. Major labels leverage film/TV sync, radio, etc., to boost their artists’ reach, but we take a different approach. We use promotional tools like Guaranteed Reach to get artists heard by their exact target audience.
Question: What do you think is the biggest misconception artists have about the role of record labels today?
Andrejs: Many artists believe that signing with a label guarantees immediate fame and success. In the past, record labels had a dominant role in controlling distribution, promotion, and artist development. However, the music landscape has drastically evolved with digital technology and the rise of independent platforms.
Question: How hard/easy is it to get signed these days?
Andrejs: Considering that 120k songs are released daily, the competition is fierce. It’s pretty challenging to secure a contract with a reputable label amidst this level of competition.
Question: Which artists have you signed from LabelRadar?
Andrejs: We’ve signed big amount of gifted artists whose music now features regularly across TheSoul Publishing’s viral video content.
However, a few notable ones are Big City Germs with their captivating rock vibe, Klevershirts with their catchy pop-rock sound, and Lorjs’ evocative electro-pop. These artists intrinsically understand their audience and create songs with a real purpose. Their music instantly transports you to a unique world, making them perfect for standalone listens and as complementary additions to the videos viewed by TheSoul Publishing’s vast audience.
Since mid-2023, all music for TSP’s videos has come directly from our label’s curated library.
Thus, artists we sign enjoy unparalleled exposure, with no limitations on continuous use across platforms. In 2022 alone, TSP’s content generated over 250 billion video views.
That’s the vast scale of opportunity we offer through creative sync. Instead of being confined by streaming stats, our artists succeed by reaching audiences authentically.
These creative partnerships give voices a chance to echo far and wide. I’m proud to support musicians who inspire joy and connection on such an immense scale.
Question: How does LabelRadar help the music discovery process for you?
Andrejs: LabelRadar is an extremely beneficial platform for us, fostering our music discovery process with its extensive creator community. It provides an efficient hub for us to uncover promising new artists. LabelRadar is one of many channels we utilize in our quest for fresh talent, including social media, industry contacts, and various streaming platforms. It complements our existing workflow by offering targeted vibes and genres, and we appreciate tools that open up new opportunities.
With LabelRadar, we have further access to talented artists we might otherwise miss. Music discovery is a collaborative effort, and LabelRadar empowers our A&R staff to find the right fit. Such platforms are critical in amplifying the voices of undiscovered talent, and LabelRadar is a valued addition to our arsenal.
Question: How has joining LabelRadar impacted your (or your team's) day to day?
Andrejs: Incorporating LabelRadar into our routine has revolutionized our ability to discover and support talented artists. The platform provides a gateway to a world of musical creativity, and I am passionate about dedicating our resources to the right musicians.
Some days, I find myself entirely engrossed in reviewing profiles in search of the ideal artist-audience match, which is both thrilling and time-consuming. When I come across a promising artist, I’m eager to explore ways to expose their music to a larger audience – through sync licensing for our viral videos, our Guaranteed Reach promotional tool, or other amplification methods.
The music industry can be daunting, but we aim to simplify it and advocate for artists transparently. LabelRadar’s platform constantly unveils new possibilities, and I have to remind myself to take a breather occasionally!
If you don’t already have a LabelRadar account, you can sign up here.
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