We're excited to chat to Miles Dyson, CEO at Plasmapool, as he shares insights from his extensive journey in the music industry. From 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 Miles Dyson:
Question: What initially drew you to the music industry and working at a record label?
Miles: The miserable handling of artists by labels in the 90s/2000s. I produced many internationally very successful vinyl releases back then with other labels - never saw a penny. So I started Plasmapool with a fully transparent automatic and real-time accounting and payment system (Pro-Tunes/Artistportal) to ensure artists receive what they earned, deserved and agreed on contractually.
Question: If you didn't work in the music industry, what would you do instead?
Miles: I come from a family with a long history of art. My great-grandfather was a famous puppeteer and painter (although, like me, colour-blind), his parents were showmen touring through Europe with a fair in the mid/late 1800s. Art runs in my veins. I guess, if not music, I would have become an architect or at least any other arty job that doesn't require 'colours' :D
Question: Is there a specific piece of advice you'd give yourself back when you first started in the industry?
Miles: I started DJing in the early 90s - the big Techno era followed by the most innovative time of House Music, later on Electro... I was on tour globally for more than 20 years. I wouldn't want to change a thing, except maybe tell my younger self this: 'never rely on other people!' On the other hand, I wouldn't want to have missed those experiences bc failure makes us stronger.
Question: How do you handle the pressure and demands of the music industry while maintaining your own well-being?
Miles: Except for demo selection, mastering and artwork, the entire production chain from artist signing through release processing, encoding, video production, distribution, marketing, accounting, licensing, publishing, artist-payments etc etc is fully automated. That means I only work on the 'art' side of the process, while all boring and repetitive work is taken care of by technology. More art, more music...more well-being :)
Question: Can you share a memorable or defining moment in your career that had a significant impact on you?
Miles: It was 1996, Streetparade in Zurich (CH). We (resident DJs of my club back then) had set up an 18 meter long truck for the event. So, we drove through Zurich with this massive sound system and I played a house mash-up of 'Fugees'. 200,000 people started singing along 'killing me softly with his song'...then a massive drop. First time I DJ'd a stadium-sized crowd going that wild - still gives me goose bumps today.
Question: What's your ultimate guilty pleasure song?
Miles: Being German, the one and only national pride song: Die Woodys - Fichtl's Lied
Question: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Miles: Keep my mug filled with coffee at all times.
Question: Can you share a mentor or role model who has had a significant influence on your career
Miles: No role models. I have a rather 'learning by doing' mindset. Or better: 'doing by doing' :)
Question: What qualities do you look for in an artist when considering signing them to your label?
Miles: Uniqueness - no one needs the 37856387564th version of the same songs and structures.
Question: What are the common mistakes artists make when approaching record labels?
Miles: That's a classic and I'm glad you asked. Since I also run an aggregation network and am connected with all the labels we distribute on a daily basis, I can share the 2 most common mistakes all professional labels have to deal with (and usually reject such submissions right away):
1) 'I can release my music myself and don't need a label, so tell me what your label can offer me or I'll release myself'.
2) 'Here's my demo' (sends a Spotify link or Linktree with all stores where the "demo" is already available).
Question: How do you handle the delicate process of giving creative feedback to artists?
Miles: Being an artist with several hundred records out myself, also being an audio engineer, this is my 'daily bread'. Apart from the arty and musical part (atonality, song-structure etc) the real challenge is to make artists understand structures they may not be able to hear on their headphones or small studio speakers. But since we're also mixing and mastering in-house, we can work around those things.
Question: How do you gauge an artist's potential for longevity in the music industry?
Miles: I see my job in finding talent and developing from there. But it entirely depends on the artists and which way they want to go. All I can do is give advise, but it my long history in this industry I've leaned barely anyone follows that over a longer period. Even the most successful artists I built at some point started to think 'I can do this all by myself' and then lost everything. Nothing lasts forever - especially not in this music industry.
Question: What do you think is the biggest misconception artists have about the role of record labels today?
Miles: Hehe, awesome question: a large portion of artists believe they release 1 song with you and they will become rich and famous, touring the world, bathing in champagne. And if the label doesn't achieve that within weeks after the release, it's a 'bad label'. There are 22 Million artists in the market releasing music on several hundred thousand labels - they all want the same. Logically, they can't all have it and most artists refuse to realize that.
Question: Which artists have you signed from LabelRadar?
Miles: About 200 artists signed a deal with us on our 56 in-house labels through your platform. That's about 4 per label we run.
Question: How does LabelRadar help the music discovery process for you?
Miles: For us, LabelRadar has become very helpful tool in finding non-commercial music. I'm not seeking the 100th sound-alike Big-Room or Dance track, but 'exceptional' music that stands out in both sound quality and production skills. So it appears LabelRadar is often used by very skilled and advanced producers to deliver top quality music to labels. Drum&Bass, Electronica, House, Techno genres - all a click away from being heard and signed.
Question: How has joining LabelRadar impacted your (or your team's) day to day?
Miles: A fantastic platform in addition to our direct artist submissions (website, agencies) and the first thing in the morning I open up. From all the platforms that are and were online, LabelRadar has the highest quality in submissions by far.
Thanks Miles, great talking to you!
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