It is without any doubt that music has repeatedly changed with technology whether it was the invention of CDs a few decades ago or the most recently streaming. With changes comes positives and negatives and right now as music fans we can access more music than we have ever done before and with advancements in modern home recording more and more people are recording at home which… you’ve guessed it, means more music being recorded. In 2007 Radiohead released their album In Rainbows which had a revolutionary strategy of pay what you like. This pay what you like strategy may have worked for one of the worlds biggest bands but it paved the way for a new expectation of music fans. Statistics gathered suggest the average amount people paid who even chose to pay anything at all was $6 but 62% of people who downloaded In Rainbows did it for free. Sneaky fact- Radiohead let the people who paid have a much quicker download speed. The landscape was set, why do we need to pay for music? 2007 was also the year of the financial crash where people’s disposable income was crippled- free downloads seemed the only option for a lot of music fans.
In the last couple of years we’ve seen a resurgence of people collecting vinyl and wanting to hold a real product. In 2016 Ian Smith had an idea, he may have been mad, but the ones that change the world often are- Ian Smith set up Last Night From Glasgow which is from our knowledge the only patron funded record label in the world. This concept is equally brilliant and business ridiculous but 3 years on it has grown to a far larger beast than ever planned. We love this concept and Ian and his team at Last Night From Glasgow so rather than snip little bits of our conversation, we have given the page to Ian transcribing exactly our back and forth (minus the boring admin bit).
If reading a full history isn’t your type of thing we invite you scroll to the bottom- firstly you will find a playlist created by Ian that you can listen to on Spotify and get a flavour of all the awesome artists, secondly there is a link to become a LNFG member for 2020. Where possible we recommend taking advantage of both but if you are not financially able to you can be just as awesome telling people about LNFG and Ian, spreading the word helps loads too! (Ian had no input in that last sentence but we love helping the underdog).
Hi Ian, how are you? It’s the end of another successful year for Last Night From Glasgow; would you mind casting your mind back through the year to tell us about some of the key points of the year, the highlights, the lessons learned and anything you want to tell us?
Yes it’s been a chaotic year, one which started with us releasing our first ever “second LP” Sister John – Sister John – that was a lovely moment, It also happens to be one of my favourite records ever – so that’s a double bonus. Shortly thereafter we released the long awaited 4th LP from DIY Pop Punk Legends Bis – my younger self wouldn’t have believed that would happen. We have released 5 other LP’s this year – including the critically lauded “This Is Not A Zen Garden” by Domiicles and the debut solo album from Kid Canaveral’s David MacGregor (Broken Chanter) We round the year off next week with the must anticipated debut album from Cloth. We have staged around 30 events, released a stupid amount of singles and spent huge chunks of the year shouting for fairness and ethics in the industry.
Thanks for giving us that intro a year in the life of LNFG. Our understanding is that Last Night From Glasgow make no money and focus on supporting artists to earn from their releases, where does your initial money come from to make these releases?
The initial starting capital came from myself and 5 friends, thereafter the bulk of our income comes from patrons who – for want of a better diescription – buy all our releases in advance. They make an annual contribution of around £60 and secure every record, every CD, every digital release and if they can make it, a free ticket to every launch event. It’s an outrageous bargain but it secures us around £20,000 per annum which covers the vast bulk of our operational costs. We have also been lucky enough to secure funding from Creative Scotland over the last 2 years and we hope to again.
Great, so it started with an initial pot of money; was that funded by you? And now looking forward can we talk about how people can get involved in all levels? Please give us a breakdown from the very smallest way someone can be involved to becoming a dedicated hardcore LNFG follower?
Yes myself and five friends intially contributed what we anticipated would be around 50% of the first year funding, however we very soon discovered that we were going to be much bigger than we planned. Today you can join our Kompnist Lable for as little as £15 per annum, you can become a patron of LNFG on patreon for a tiny monthly contribution of $4. To become a full blown all singing all dancing “gimme 6 or 7 LPs and a bunch of gig tickets” well that will cost you £60 … you know less than half the price it would cost to buy the records in the shops.
With this business model it’s extremely honourable and working for free maybe wouldn’t be the case if the whole music industry overhauled to a system with some of your elements; at present what things do you feel will happen to the industry in coming years? And regardless of what will happen, what would you like to happen?
i think the industry will continue to self serve and continue to pump streaming driven dribble into the ears of the masses, eventually the kids will wake up and realise that autotuned tracks with choruses in the first 27 seconds are not the future of rock n roll and they will turn off, at that point the industry will wake up and create the next mass appeal trend to satisfy their huge hunger for profit. I would hope we could get to a point where fans realise that spending £20 buying a record from a band starting out is 10000 times more valuable than them tweeting a link to a spotify stream. I would hope that some Radio would wake up and remember its’ job is to innovate not to satisfy demand. I would hope folks would realise that talking at Gigs is a hideous trait and learn to shut up for 4 minutes at a time. All in all I want people to remember that music is not a disposable commodity but the greatest arr form. I want the industry and consumers at large to remember that it’s about art and without the artists that art does not exist, so maybe we should support and encourge artists as oppose to use and dispose of them as we see fit.
We’ve read that Last Night From Glasgow don’t use contracts as you wish the art to be taken more seriously than commerciality; can you elaborate on how you work without contracts and what has worked well and not so well in this approach?
Well in very simple terms (and this may seem arrogant) you’d have to be mad to want to leave LNFG. We pay for all manufacture, we pay for all launch event costs, we are now paying for recording costs – so the absence of a contract really isnt an issue. The truth is contracts exist predominantly to benefit the company not the artist, we know we are not going to exploit anyone so why have them sign a contract? Trust is a lovely thing and working on trust and seeing that trust come good is joyous. Just last night we launched a new single from a new signning. We had agreed to pay a chunk of the recording costs of the EP, (when I say “Pay” i dont mean “Fund” I mean “Pay” in a non recoverable manner) as well as all other associated costs. We met them maybe 6 months ago, we made them an offer they probably didnt believe and couldnt refuse and I imagine they spent much of the last few weeks waiting for the catch. Well at 11pm after they had played to a sold out venue, I was able to congratulate them and tell them how much money we owed them. We had paid for recording, paid for aggregation, paid for venue hire, paid the support fees, paid to manufacture merchandise and here was me saying “here’s what we owe you” It might seem nuts but it’s a lovely nuts.
How many of you are involved in the Last Night From Glasgow now and how many hours per week do you each spend working?
Theres about 15 volunteers who help run LNFG, I spend every single spare second I have running the label so I imagine thats about 40 hours a week, my team mates contribute what they can, when they can. Some do considerably more than others but that’s just dandy, we are (I think) a big happy family, all delighted to be able to help create music.
Would you like to tell us a bit about Komponist; what it is. How does it differ from LNFG and what is the need for two separate labels?
Komponist came about because, as LNFG, we were struggling to support a slightly avant garde intrumental release, it kept failing in submission discussions, not because it wasn’t brilliant but because it was a little more niche. It was obviously worthy of support but not getting over our own, self imposed line. Well as happenstance would have it, Rose and Gary – two of my LNFG colleagues – staged a minor intervention and took me to the pub one day and essentially demanded I offloaded some work. I explained that off loading work usually resulted in me creating work but they insisted. So I offloaded a few sizeable projects, went home and almost immediately suggested to the team that we start a new label, pretty much so we could release this one piece of music. The team being a bunch of music nerds and masochists all shouted “Yeah” and Komponist was borne. We released K1 last month and K2 will follow in November. So far 100 folks have subscribed to Komponist, all we have promised is that we will push their listening habits. It’s lovely to be supporting music that would ordinarily be over looked.
We’re led to believe that you started Last Night From Glasgow in 2016 and have grown far bigger than your expectations; what were you ambitions when you started, how did you achieve them and what are your ambitions now?
My ambitions were to survive a year and release the 4 records we promised our subscribers, we always knew that quality of product combined with a high level of service were key. I genuinely think that the vast majority of our members beleive they are part of a family and we work very hard to achieve that. Artists, Fans and Staff all working together to make it better for everyone. We are approaching our 4th birthday and our vinyl catalogue now stretches to 33 releases, our digital catalogue to well over 50 – so we are closing in on 100 releases in 44 months – that’s frankly insane. Our objectives are to grow, push ethics and equality, call out unfair treatment and set standards that competitors aspire to. The industry is a self serving beast full to the brim with parasitical apologists, well we want to show that you can make a difference, be succesful and still be a good egg
The enterprise sounds like something that was dreamed up after a heavy night on the beers, can you tell us the very first time you uttered the words about running a label, who those words were to and where was it? As well as this how long had been thinking about this idea just in your head before verbalising it?
It was “dreamed up” over a few long dark nights in late 2015. Over a period of a few weeks and months I began imagining it’s basic contruct and then one day in November 2015 I told my friend Stephen of my idea over a beer. I invited him to join me and over the space of two months we found four more willing guinnea pigs. We formed the company, designed the website, sought some artists and in March 2016 went public with a pretty solid business plan. By June 2016 we have secured 50% more funding that we had hoped for, by September we were three times the size we had budgeted.
They can apply from our website, we want passion, something new and interesting, we want an awareness of what it takes to work within a cooperative concept, if you’re a team player you will do well, if you’re an individual you’ll likely not fit in terribly well. We want some music that makes one person in our team scream about it’s brllliance, we absolutely do not want music that makes 100% of our team say “its okay we can see it’s appeall”
Would you like to talk us through some of your current roster?
Wow thats 24 bands – how do I pick? Lets try and do them all.
Mark W. Georgsson – Alt Country Musings from the east end of Glasgow, Stephen Solo – genius electronica from a man with a myriad of ideas and an iphone, Sister John – The Lyrics of Cohen, The Groove of the the VU and the style of The Band, Medicine Men – hook driven krautrock psyche rock, L-space – Angelo Badalamenti meets a trippier Wayne Coyne, Annie Booth – Scotlands answer to Sandy Denny, Cloth – Angular math rock neets The XX, The Gracious Losers – Van Morrisons Gypsy Caravan Jamming with Crazy Horse in a Belfast Stylie, Kohla – East Coast RnB in a Trip Hop Gateaux, Fenella – The Lovechild of Cleo Laine and Martha Wainwright, Domiciles – the kind of band MBV would have been if they had truly let go of the apron strings, Foundlings – CBGB’s new wave meets c86 with a killer gal on lead vox, Life Model – The Scuzz of Pavement meets the pop sesnibility of Stereolab, Bis – Well you know Bis, yes the ones from TOTP 1995, Close Lobsters – Aye them too, C86 Darlings – Neitzsche meets The Clash, Mt. Doubt – imagine Lloyd Cole and Johnny Greenwood forming a pop band – that’s Mt. Doubt, The Girl Who Cried Wolf – Unfinished Sympathy but you know with more hooks, Slime City – Devo meets XTC in a bid to create better choruses than either, The Martial Arts – Classic Fizzy Pop in a Prince inspired landscape, Loudmammoth – Three now Fourpiece from Newcastle – Like thenSundays in 5/4, Zoe Bestel – Bjork learns the Ukele and discovers a new ethereal form of folk music, Lemon Drink – West Coast Surf Garage Rock Earworms Galore, Broken Chanter – Grown Up Alt Folk for people who like their Angst buttered on toast, Starless – electro classical crooning in a stylish Wegie style, The Site of Future Rome – Godspeed meets Explosions in the Sky with a little Mogwai for good measure.
If all past and current releases right now were in a fire and you could only save one, can you tell us which one that would be and why? We can understand favourites must be impossible to have but I’m sure certain releases have had some pretty memorable stories that you hold close to your heart?
I’d save Sister John – Sister John, everyone who knows me, knows this and it’s the worst kept secret in LNFG. I adore this record in the same way i adore Abbey Road by the Beatles and Blood on the Tracks by Dylan. It’s the first album we were involved in from the ground up, I saw and heard it’s genesis, I had a tiny (probably ultimately irrelevant) hand in the overall conception of the package and I cherish the record like a child. I love everything we have released though … but you did ask.
Kindly we have a playlist to share with our article, what would you like to tell us about the playlist?
It’s a bucket of songs from our current roster and a few older ones who ceased to be for various reasons, it epitomises the diversity of our label and our tastes (Note – I’m updating this with new releases today)
What have we missed out that we really need to know about Last Night From Glasgow and Kompnist? How would you like to sign off this interview?
We’d love you to join us, buy a membership, lets make this industry better for everyone and have a bucket of fun in the interim.