We're excited to chat to Daniel Sokolovskiy, Label Manager at JOOF Recordings, as he shares insights from his journey in the music industry so far. From sharing personal learnings, to top tips and professional insights, this a great read for both aspiring artists and anyone considering launching their own label alike.
Interview with Daniel Sokolovskiy:
Question: What initially drew you to the music industry and working at a record label?
Daniel: I started listening to electronic music at the age 10 and producing at 12 (kudos to those remembering ModPlug Tracker and ReBirth RB-338!), so getting deeper and exploring various roles in the vast and ever-changing music industry was natural to me.
Question: If you didn't work in the music industry, what would you do instead?
Daniel: As a lifetime learner, I'm a big believer in sharing knowledge and education in general. I created an educational course and have been running the advice series on my blog, so if I didn't work in the music industry, that probably would be in the space of education. I'm also a productivity nerd and I love the web and tech, so something along those lines would be another potential option.
Question: What's the best piece of advice you've ever received in your career?
Daniel: As cheesy and fluffy as it sounds, the best advice I ever got is to follow my heart. Trends fade, but to stay passionate about what you're doing in the long run, one must learn to listen to what deeply makes you want to move forward.
Question: How do you handle the pressure and demands of the music industry while maintaining your own well-being?
Daniel: This topic definitely deserves more attention and words, as oftentimes a career in the music industry might not be as glamorous as it may seem from social media. I just recently started to treat my mental health seriously and am now taking care of my sleep, diet, physical activity, and informational intake. You know, all the basic stuff, which I learned the hard way, turns out to be quite important.
Question: Can you share a memorable or defining moment in your career that had a significant impact on you?
Daniel: Playing my 5-6-hour-long open-to-close sets has definitely been a true test of my DJ skills and the credibility of my name as an artist, which I enjoyed a lot. An intimate venue packed with a few hundred like-minded people, dim light, a proper sound system; I'm standing behind the decks and guiding the crowd through the different energy levels and heads-down moments over the course of the night. Unforgettable moments!
Question: How important is an artist's image and branding in today's music industry?
Daniel: I wish it'd be otherwise, but branding is important. Social media are still king, even though it pains me to say that. Establishing a good online presence and building a strong fanbase is equally, if not even more important than making good music in the first place. Modern technologies lowered the entry barriers so everyone can be a music producer or a DJ now, but at the same time it created a lot of "noise" and one has to break through in order to stand out. And sometimes, music alone is not enough for that.
Question: What are the common mistakes artists make when approaching record labels?
Daniel: The three most common mistakes are expectations, expectations, and expectations! From "I can quit my day job and start living on the royalties from my first single", to "record label will now handle my bookings", oftentimes new producers expect some crazy things from record labels.
Jokes aside, I can't blame producers since many nuances and mechanisms of the music industry are still covered in fog, and one needs to really dig deep to find answers even for simple questions. Also, I'd advise doing some research before submitting a demo to a specific label to find out what genres of music they accept, what the best way to reach them is, how long it might take to release music with them, and other things that are useful to know before approaching record labels.
Question: How do you handle the delicate process of giving creative feedback to artists?
Daniel: When someone asks for my feedback, I deliver it plain and honest, even if sometimes saying or hearing certain things feels uncomfortable. It might be tough, but eventually, people feel when someone genuinely wants to help and they appreciate it. Otherwise, if one surrounds oneself with people who only say, "Yeah, sure, it's great", then it's hard to grow in such an environment.
Question: What misconceptions do you think artists have about releasing music?
Daniel: What I'm about to say might sound controversial, but I think the biggest misconception is that a music release is a way of getting direct income. Now, don't get me wrong, releasing music indeed gives artists direct income, and some artists get enough to make a living.
Some artists, especially in certain genres, focus solely on releasing as much music as they can, and for some, it works. But generally speaking, in the club scene and modern DJ/producers era, most income lies in the form of gigs. And releasing music, in turn, is a marketing tool that helps to spread the word about the artist's name and eventually get gigs. Once one understands this, it will become much easier to understand the role of record labels and other stakeholders in the music industry.
Question: How hard/easy is it to get signed these days?
Daniel: Thanks to tools like LabelRadar, the process is much more streamlined now, so overall, I'd say these days it is easier to get signed. But ultimately, it's up to conversations and relations between the artist and the label, and there are always human beings from both sides (at least until AI-generated artists aren't delivering music to AI-generated labels yet, haha!)
Question: How has joining LabelRadar impacted your (or your team's) day to day?
Daniel: It brought back freedom to our email inboxes! Before LabelRadar, we received hundreds of emails every week, so our mailboxes were flooded with messages and, frankly, were a mess. Now having a dedicated platform for demos, the process is much more streamlined and easier for all sides.
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