Director Alex Bean talks about the label’s 100th release ‘Collection 1’ (featuring Emily Burns, Jones and more of your favourite artists!) and what it’s really like running a label…
Let’s face it, hitting triple figures for the first time is a landmark moment for any business, and for 37 Adventures it tips the hat to what has been a stellar first five years for the brand! What better way then, to celebrate such an achievement by commemorating it with their first compilation Collection 1. With a name like that, they clearly don’t intend on stopping any time soon.
Since its launch, nurturing the artist potential has been the mission of label director Alex Bean. Formerly of 679 Artists – a label that worked with the likes of Marina and the Diamonds, The Streets, Plan B, Kano to name a few – Bean has a primal passion for new music (as you can hear below on her curated playlist of favourite releases she’s worked on in her career so far!) and is constantly on the lookout for exciting new talent. When it came to reflecting on how far 37 Adventures had come since its birth, it made more sense to Bean to focus not the talent coming through right now.
“We focus a lot on discovery and development of artists right from the start, and so to commemorate our centennial release it felt important to shine a light on brand new artists – like Studio Black and MAYA – as well as featuring collaborations between our existing label artists – like JONES, Salute and Chrystal,” shares Bean. The occasion also posed a great opportunity to bring the artists together creatively too. “We went into the files of tracks that we’d liked for a while, and also asked our artists who they’d like to work with, and it all came together that way…”
37 Adventures have some incredible emerging artists on their roster including JONES, Geowulf and Blakey. How do you go about discovering new talent?
It’s a real mixture of ways; we frequently get recommendations from artists we’re already working with which is a very good endorsement, we listen to everything we get sent and we of course also have very good ears to the ground…
What factor makes you think “wow, I simply must work with this artist from hereon in”?
It’ll come from hearing their music first (no matter how raw the form of the track/s we hear initially) and then we obviously want to meet the artist and get a sense of who they are, what they’re saying and how big their ambitions are. That tends to be the point that it clicks, they’ve got amazing music and are pretty sharp!
It’s very varied; from shooting videos, attending photoshoots and interviews with our artists, to sending out vinyl records or promotional hair dye from our store, to days of endless paperwork, or uploading new tracks to Spotify and Apple, to meetings with potential new artists or producers we want to work with… The one constant however, no matter which day, will be hundreds of emails. Hundreds.
What would you say is the most challenging thing about managing a record label?
Going to meetings and people still looking over my shoulder for a guy, even thought we’ve been speaking for months via email (a heady combo of being a woman running a label and having a unisex name) – but c’mon!
The music industry is definitely one of passion and one that feels quite elusive and hard to get into when you’re looking in from the outside. How did you get your first break?
I started by DJing at my local indie night when I was at University, and the owner of the venue (The Cavern in Exeter – greatest small venue in the world) introduced me to one person at the Barfly group in London who I subsequently harassed for four months to let me do work experience. Once they agreed I worked there for free for a year whilst signing on. From there I continued to harass people (politely) in music that I crossed paths with, until meeting the guys behind Pure Groove in Archway. 15 years later and I still work with them all in various capacities – they’re the good ones.
What would you say is your career highlight so far?
I’ve loved working with some artists that I’d been obsessed with beforehand like The Streets, Basement Jaxx and Chilly Gonzales. DJing in different countries is really good fun and getting gold discs is obviously super nice, but I don’t think it’s happened yet, ask me again in a couple of years!
What advice would you give young people just starting out to make practical, positive steps in making a career in the music industry?
Be tenacious, be alert, be active, talk to everyone you meet, go to clubs, gigs and events, put on those clubs, gigs and events, reach out to people and introduce yourself. Be polite, use social media, be on top of the latest platforms – you’d be amazed how many people in the industry aren’t and if you can confidently use them properly (especially when a new one launches) you can carve a job for yourself.
What do you feel can be done to make the industry more inclusive and accessible to people from all backgrounds?
Paid work experience is essential, the people who can afford to live in London and work at labels for free are not going to be representative of a broad mixture of society, and the industry is the poorer for it.
I’d like to see companies reaching out to collegues and schools to offer internships in areas which wouldn’t normally be offered such opportunities, where someone with hunger could grab that chance and run with it.
I’d like to see more groups like She Said So who are doing great things in terms of providing a support network for women in the music industry and feel less exclusive then some other ‘Women In Music’ forums (for example with the latter, suggesting that a solution to having children and continuing to work in music is simply getting a full-time nanny is not representative of the position of the majority of women in music).
What is the highlight of your job?
A combination of seeing our releases getting really big streaming numbers and watching people discover the track and artists, and going to a gig/PA of one of our artists and seeing people fully into their music. You spend a looong time tweaking and planning releases before they’re live, so when you witness people going nuts to the tracks, it’s pretty good fun!
37 Adventures’ first compilation album Collection 1 is available now. Listen to some of the favourite releases that Alex has worked on below!