Industry Insight | Jack Clothier from Alcopop! Records
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
We spoke to Jack, the founder of Alcopop! Records, about his music industry journey. Famed for innovative release formats and unique marketing techniques - from releasing a record on a bicycle format to secretly buying UKIP's website domain from under their noses and attracting international media attention in doing so - the Alcopop! Records story is a triumphant one!
Jack leads SMB's Record Label Business course, and has supported many students, embarking on their own path as label owners. But where did he start, what advice does he have, and what is the future for labels such as his?
What does an average day (if there can be such a thing!) running Alcopop! Records look like?
Well - an average day really is a rather tough thing to quantify when running an indie label - every day is different - though all of them involved an AWFUL lot of emails. I guess the thing is that when you're quantifying the whole business, there are such a wide variety of jobs to do, that there's no definitive pattern to your day. It's kinda nice though - keeps life interesting!
What’s been the most challenging part of starting or running your label, and what’s been the most rewarding part of it?
It's all about getting music you love out there - and when you can do that properly and people connect, it's absolutely the best feeling - and reward enough for all of the many challenges.
I still get ridiculously excited every time something brilliant happens. You know - when you get that really nice festival offer through, or a massive order through the shop? It's a great feeling, and it's those little daily rewards that keep on coming that make it all worthwhile. It sounds geeky, but i was a massive Championship Manager fan in my youth and running a record label is a bit like a real life version of that for kids who aren't very good at football. It's all about getting music you love out there - and when you can do that properly and people connect, it's absolutely the best feeling - and reward enough for all of the many challenges.
I used to say that money (or the lack of it) was the biggest challenge, but it's not - there are ways and means of doing an awful lot on a tiny budget - so probably the biggest challenge is time! Alcopop! Records is famed not only for it’s amazing artists, but also for it’s innovative release formats, and beautifully designed vinyl - can tell us about why this has been so important in your success and what your thoughts are on digital releases and streaming? I love aesthetics in our records, and it's important to think from a fan perspective. Would you be happy if you'd just spent your hard earned cash on 'that' release... And why would you buy it? Noone owes you anything when you run a label, and you have to make it worth their while to get involved with you... same with writers. Why should they bother writing about you? We like to think that we put exciting reasons in place for them to do so, and to make people happy.
In terms of digital and streaming, it's a vital part of the label. It goes well with physical - and gives people such a choice.
In terms of digital and streaming, it's a vital part of the label. It goes well with physical - and gives people such a choice. It's too short an interview to explain why I think all of these things fit snugly into the evolution of modern day indie labels, but it's all vital in taking things forward and making things work! Can you give artists currently seeking a label to work with any advice in how to approach a label, and stand out?
Here's my number one tip. DON'T FIND EVERY LABEL EMAIL ADDRESS YOU CAN FIND, CC THEM ALL INTO AN EMAIL AND SEND THEM AN UNFINISHED DEMO. Take your time, get yourself together and work out what you want. Don't get a label for the sake of it - and be personal. If someone is thinking about starting a label, what would be your top 3 nuggets of wisdom to impart?
Be yourself, and do it your own way! There's no set way you 'have' to run a label, and you can use all of your creativity, ideas and passion to make something really special. I'd also say - try and think long term / where do you see yourself going? It sounds business studies, but it really is important.
What should we be looking out for from Alcopop! in the coming months?
Its been a super busy 2018 so far with albums from our pals DZ Deathrays, Happy Accidents and The Spook School and lots of fun things with a load of other brilliant bands - oh and did i mention that we released a TIGERCUB 'Safe Mode' beer with Signature Brew (Alcopop177). That was fun! Coming up we've got a whole world of musical wonder from Kagoule and itoldyouiwouldeatyou, and oh - we've just signed one of my favourite bands of all time - but I can't tell you who just yet (so devious of me). Meanwhile, I've started running a side-project Anglo-Japanese label with my wonderful partner Rhi and the good folk of Vinyl Junkie (JP), and we're gearing up for some seriously cool stuff with Maison Book Girl, the ace band we bought over for a tour in May. Safe to say SMB - there's no bloody rest for me!
Find out more about Alcopop! Records and their roster HERE
Details of Jack's course at SMB can be found HERE