Grahame is the kind of person you could talk to for hours - full of interesting stories, entertaining anecdotes and insightful industry advice. We loved hearing his learnings from his journey with Data Transmission and are excited to share his tips and tricks in this exclusive interview. Let's dive in!
Interview with Grahame Farmer:
Question: What initially drew you to the music industry and working at a record label?
Grahame: I started working at a nightclub in London called Turnmills in the mid-00s. I was building websites before that and Turnmills' website was rubbish, so I told Danny on the dance floor one time and he challenged me to build a better one. I did and started working for the club and its just evolved over 20 years. Data Transmission runs 3 labels now, which I love as we find music from my demo feedback sessions on Twitch on Mondays and can help new artists with their first releases and shine light on artists that are making great music because of our platforms.
Question: If you didn't work in the music industry, what would you do instead?
Grahame: I'd probably work in content in another field, I love the challenge of making great content so I'd probably do that in sports or TV...
Question: What's your ultimate guilty pleasure song?
Grahame: Music is all pleasure for me and I like everything from pop to techno.... BUT deffo Ace of Base 'All That She Wants'. We went on the french exchange when I was at school probably 25 years ago now and we played it on repeat on the bus to France - thinking back it must have driven the teachers mental but I still love it.
Question: Can you share a memorable or defining moment in your career that had a significant impact on you?
Grahame: Uploading Dominica 'Gotta Let You' as a premiere to my Soundcloud 7 or 8 years ago after I heard Jackmaster play it at The Social Festival. The track has had 7 million plus plays and really helped take the channel to the next level and has allowed me to do so much with the channel. I love Soundcloud and I'm still learning about it - we have 6 channels now and they are the cornerstone of our Data Transmission network.
Question: How do you handle the pressure and demands of the music industry while maintaining your own well-being?
Grahame: I think having a healthy lifestyle allows me to maintain it. I run every other day and work out on the other days or even just simply go for a 30-40 min walk. I find when I've not got in that exercise routine, especially through the summer where we've had heavy weekends with festivals, it does impact my week. I definitely find that getting some air and a long run sets my day up right, I sleep better which gives me a better week. Also, I work on the mindset you can only control what you can control and your focus should be on a few key things and not everywhere.
Question: Who is an emerging artist you think people should be listening to?
Grahame: I listen to music across so many genres so there are a few in Tech House - a super cool artist called Loz Seka - he's releasing on Toolroom & Data Transmission, also Josh Samuel who is releasing on SOLA is killing it.
Coming on Patrick Topping's label is an artist called EMEXL who has come from our Discord Server and makes some fun tracks. Tom Brownlow is making some crazy music under a new artist name, he played us the first track on our Twitch stream the other day, its incredible!
In Drum & Bass, a young lad called Entropy is going to be big, also a young lady called MEL - she smashes it!
In House Music, Javi Bora is a G and his label Too Many Rules is one of my favourites. Also shouts at Will Mac whose house music is amazing.
Finally, in Techno it's all about a girl called Crossbow and Black Girl / White Girl are super cool too.
Question: Which song or album best describes your life and why?
Grahame: LCD Soundsystem 'All My Friends', my career and life has been built around making friends and building a network of friends that can help, inspire, be stupid, run, chill, pick you up when you need...
Question: Is there a specific piece of advice you'd give yourself back when you first started in the industry?
Grahame: Keep learning and watch out for new platforms, don't be so involved in what you are doing and don't try to do everything. Give yourself time in your week to just sit... and be creative.
Question: What is one thing about the music industry that surprised you when you first started?
Grahame: How small it is, so many people have fingers in many pies and wearing multiple hats for different brands.
Question: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Grahame: I ask this question in some interviews but I've never given it much thought - I'm a big HULK fan I love the raw power and I don't know why its just fun to watch him smash stuff. Time and space travel are always interesting because it's seemingly impossible. I also love the Captain Marvel powers of just being pure energy - that's super interesting.
Question: What qualities do you look for in an artist when considering signing them to your label?
Grahame: We always want to hear more music than the demo sent, it's good to see an artist has other stuff going on and we like to sign a couple of releases so we can build the artist. We are spending time and resource, we want to work with them over a longer period and build together. We also look at numbers, I have a peek at socials to see what their content strategy is like and what they might bring to the table.
Question: What are the common mistakes artists make when approaching record labels?
Grahame: The biggest mistake is not spending enough time researching the right labels for your music, the hit and hope approach of going after labels is a massive fail. Not spending the time understanding where a label is musically and also networking over a longer period of time to meet the people behind the label. You need to work out the path to your dream label and sometimes work up the ladder of labels that previous artists have taken.
Question: How important is an artist's image and branding in today's music industry?
Grahame: Really important. The artist controls their audience, and it's a big chunk of that are who's gonna stream / buy the track first - we are gonna bring our audience to the table obviously, so it's a team effort. I teach artists how to build their brand and socials on my YouTube channel in my course 'The Artist Blueprint' - it's key for me to see what they are doing and how involved they are. Bigger records will always do the damage on their own and bigger labels can build artists without socials, but that's so rare - it's almost in the minority of all records released.
Question: How do you gauge an artist's potential for longevity in the music industry?
Grahame: That's a difficult one, there is so much to being an artist now - a strong string of releases needs to be backed up with good strong content and being involved in platforms and scenes. Also knowing what you want to achieve is important, your goals might be smaller than you think depending what you have going on in your life. Then finally you just need some luck...
Question: How does LabelRadar help the music discovery process for you?
Grahame: Yeah it's cool, it's great for putting music in front of A&Rs and making the process simple.
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