Record Store Day is a fundamental part of the music industry. Promoting Vinyl in all of its glory, proving how physical isn’t dead. Independent labels more so than others, are doing amazing things right now for the vinyl revival and some names spring to mind.
Sat in a Portsmouth pub on a sunny Sunday afternoon with Justine Jones of Holy Roar records and Employed to Serve. Discussing the importance of Record Store Day for independent labels. “I think it just raises awareness of the labels and the importance of buying vinyl directly from shops. I think it reminds people there are other means of buying things other than Amazon and Discogs which is nice.” Explains Jones.
“Vinyl is a better markup and helps labels like us grow. So we can release new bands and better albums.”
With a surge of sales increasing in the vinyl department , highstreet retailers and your local supermarkets are now stocking the 12” records once again. Even major labels are jumping on the bandwagon and capitalising on this movement. How does this vinyl boom effect companies like Holy Roar? Justine informs “It helps us, people still stream but if they really like the album then they will buy it physically. Vinyl is a better markup and helps labels like us grow. So we can release new bands and better albums.”
It’s clear how Holy Roar are trying to better themselves as a label. Developing the future by producing a new wave of artists that other labels overlook. With bands like Conjurer, Wren and many more on the roaster, how does this impressive line-up impact Holy Roar? Justine explains “It’s had quite a considerable impact. There will be a couple of bands that really get us into coverage across press; that’s when people start to twig they come from the same label. In turn, people start to get into the label and start following us and looking at all of our bands. At the moment, we’ve got a subscription service which has grown exponentially with everyone saying its sick. It feels like we are building trust through it for our bands.”
“I feel that I have a unique perspective because I’m in a band.”
Being the lead vocalist of Employed to Serve and working for Holy Roar, one wonders how Justine is able to juggle the two and how they coincide with each other. Do the two clash? or do they work well together? Justine enlightens us “It’s totally easy. Alex who owns the record label understands that I need to tour which is great. I can work remotely, I feel that I have a unique perspective because I’m in a band. I get where our bands are coming from and I can mentor them in certain aspects which is useful.” What makes Holy Roar different from the rest, is the level of thought that goes into shaping their bands “I feel like Holy Roar is really good at growing grassroots bands and gives them a foundation. The label has its own followers so no matter who we release people tend to check them out. You need it if you’re a band and your first album is on a major they’re not equipped to build the band. Whereas independent labels like ours I think are important.” Explains Jones.
There is always going to be pros and cons of singing to major or independent labels, but how do the two compare when it comes to vinyl? “The main difference I see between the two is the quality of packaging. A lot of stuff is mass produced with a major label, lower DSM papers and stuff like that. Just printing only solid black vinyl’s. Whereas indie labels spend a lot of time developing packaging and different styles with different colour variants. Because of the more a fanatical fan base, you get people collecting each variant and that’s how we cater to our audience.”
Who else can we turn to? Holy Roar isn’t the only independent label out there right now doing incredible things. Justine eagerly reals off the list “Deathwish records, Throatruiner records and Basic records. BSM are good, they’re a lot light than the others but they do tend to dip into our realm sometimes. Relapse records have a big range both small and big. Prosthetic records and Venn records are really good. I think there is so many independent labels doing well at the moment.”
Words by Charlie Conibear