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QRD #72 - Striving On
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Label Owner Interviews:
Silent Media Projects
Fruits de Mer Records
At War With False Noise
J&C Tapes
Fourth Dimension
Velvet Blue Music
Projekt Records
Consouling Sounds
Felmay Records
Lathelight Ltd
FilthyBroke Recordings
Public Eyesore

Guitarist Interview:
Christian Berends

Comic Creator Interviews:
Casey Brillon
Ayal Pinkus
Maxime de Radiguès

Comic Shop Owner Interviews:
Bombshell Comics
Jesse James Comics
October Country Comics

Christian Musician Interview:
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Silber Records
Silber Button Factory
Silber Kickstarter

Label Owner Interview with Mike Keirsbilck of Consouling Sounds
April 2015
Consouling Sounds
Name: Mike Keirsbilck
Label: Consouling Sounds
City: Ghent, Belgium
Artists Roster: Amenra, Aidan Baker, Nadja, Whisper Room, Caudal, Alkerdeel, Gnaw Their Tongues, Aderlating, Neige Morte, Deuil, SardoniS, Wiegedood, Syndrome, CHVE, thisquietarmy, Ekca Liena, Northumbria, Snailking, ...
Websites: www.consouling.be

QRD – When & why did you start your label?

Mike – The label was founded in 2008 when I ran into a friend of mine - Miguel. I had been playing in bands, but wanted to stop doing that. I felt I still had some things to do music-wise. Miguel had a small label & distro & also wanted to stop because it ran its course.
We then decided to start anew with a whole new label, focusing on the music we love. In Belgium there wasn’t really a platform for all kinds of post music or drones & ambient. We decided to start the label to offer a platform to those artists. In 2014 the label had become too big for us to keep on doing it as a hobby. Miguel didn’t want it to become something more than a hobby, having a lot of other commitments. So he left Consouling, but my wife Nele stepped in. While I manage the daily routine of the label, Nele’s managing production & PR. & she does one hell of a job, I must say.

QRD – Where did you get the money to finance your first few releases?

Mike – We started off with a few CDR releases which we funded ourselves. The moment that generated enough return, we did our first factory pressed CD (Nadja’s The Bungled & The Botched), & we took it from there with the revenue of one release funding the next one.

QRD – How many releases have you put out?

Mike – All together, we’ve put out about 78 releases thus far.

QRD – How many releases would you like to do a year?

Mike – A maximum of 10 releases a year seems the best for us, in order to be able to give every release the proper attention it deserves.
In the past we’ve had some great opportunities pass by to which we couldn’t say no. & we’re having a busy release schedule this year. But we’re toning it down & from next year onwards; we’re aiming for some 10 releases a year.

QRD – How many hours a week do you work on the label & how many would you like to?

Mike – As the label is now my fulltime job, I have to put in a lot of effort to stay afloat. I’m working over 80 hours a week at present.
Needless to say I’d like to have that cut in half. But for the time being, there’s no other way for us if we want to stay alive.

QRD – What are the fun &/or rewarding parts about running a label?

Mike – The most rewarding part is when you put out an album of a band you fully believe in & it does get picked up by fans & press alike.  Whenever something like that happens, it’s pure magic.

QRD – How do you feel labels are more & less useful to artists now than they were five years ago?

Mike – Well, we’re not a label in the classical top-down sense of the record industry. When we put out an album, we’re not the “label that will decide on everything”. We closely work together with the band & we’ve built up a solid network of people with their own specific skills. Our job is to bring together the right people to make the maximum impact for a specific release. In that respect, we’re very useful to artists. Sure, everybody can press his own album in this day & age, but we team up with like-minded partners for artwork, promotion, & distribution. So we can in fact do something more than when a band decides to self-release an album. But more as a partner in the whole plan of releasing an album & not as THE label that’s cashing on the backs of its artists.

QRD – How have your motivations for having a label changed over time?

Mike – My motivation is more or less the same since the inception of the label: I’m an idealist who wants to give a platform to the bands I firmly believe in. It started out as a hobby, but now it’s also my job. So I have to make ends meet every month. But that doesn’t change my attitude or the way we work. I’m still the same enthusiastic guy from 2008 who wants to make a difference in the world.

QRD – What do you feel is the biggest waste of your time running the label?

Mike – All administrative tasks are always a huge waste of time, distracting from the core business of the label. Of course, it needs to be done too. But with a million different rules & regulations, things should be able to go much smoother I feel.

QRD – What are some labels you admire or feel a kinship to?

Mike – There are a few labels out there that are truly inspirational or I have warm feelings towards. Throatruiner Records from France is such an example. The label is driven by a great & passionate guy. I love that! Same goes for Reflections Records, Hypertension Records, & Tartarus Records for example. As for bigger labels, I’m really inspired by Relapse Records. How they managed to become a household name internationally, against all odds, is truly inspiring.

QRD – What other work experiences prepared you to have a label?

Mike – Before I restarted the label professionally, I finished a PhD in Literature. There seems little correlation between a PhD. & a record label, but there is. I learned how to cope with stress, how to maintain deadlines, & how to plan ahead. All great skills I still use on a daily basis.

QRD – What makes your label special & unique?

Mike – I don’t know if it’s special or unique, but as said before: we regard the label as one partner in the release of an album. We keep very close touch with all the bands on the roster. We only half-jokingly say they’re all part of the Consouling family. Because that’s really how it is. Every one on the roster is also (or has become) a good personal friend of ours & whenever they pass through Belgium we meet up or they stay at our home. Our home is also the home for everyone who’s a part of the Consouling family.

QRD – How has your physical location effected your label?

Mike – Having a brick & mortar store really helped us grow considerably. It’s like people take you more seriously when there’s a visual outlet for the stuff you do. We managed to attract a lot less attention back when we were only an online platform.
So the location in the city really helped us in establishing ourselves. Apart from that, a lot of artists & creative people come to the store & new interesting & exciting stuff is set in motion because of that. Which is really brilliant!

QRD – Do you enjoy music as much now as you used to & how has running a label effected how you listen to/hear music?

Mike – I still love music tremendously. I’ve gotten into this because of my love for music, but it only grew more profound as time progressed & I noticed we were able to get noticed & do some truly wonderful things.
Of course, it has affected how I listen to music. I’m constantly listening around for new & exciting stuff, having less interest in genre-specific releases. I used to be able to listen to the “classics” days on end, but I notice as time progresses & time becomes more scarce, I listen less & less to those albums in favor of new bands & new releases.

QRD – What’s your demos policy?

Mike – We normally welcome demos & give every demo a spin. However, we’ve been so busy in the last couple of years, & our roster is so packed, that we don’t consider new submissions for the time being. I keep my eyes & ears open, but before spring 2016 there’s simply no more room to do new stuff. & as previously said: we are trying to tone our output down a bit in order to manage everything much better.

QRD – How do you find out about new artists for your label?

Mike – I do keep my eyes & ears open & if there’s something that truly knocks my socks off, I contact the band personally.

QRD – How do most fans find out about your label?

Mike – That depends. Either they get to know the label via a release of a band they like, or they stumble across us via Facebook, our site, magazines, reviews… Or word of mouth has traveled all the way to them. We noticed there’s not really one way people get to know us. & I don’t mind, as long as they get to know us of course.

QRD – What’s been your biggest selling release & why do you think it was?

Mike – Our biggest selling artist on the label is Amenra. It’s first & foremost because they’re a fucking awesome band who have been working on their music & their live reputation since 1999. They are an extremely hard working band for which I have the utmost respect. For their main body of work they’re signed to Neurot Records now & that has helped to raise their profile altogether. But that doesn’t mean they became lazy. No, they keep on playing & making music like there’s no tomorrow. Along the way they managed to interest an ever-growing number of people in what they’re doing. & they keep on going strong! So it’s not hard to figure out why they are by far the biggest band on the label: the effort that has been poured into their art is nothing short of admirable & it doesn’t go unnoticed.

QRD – What release that you’ve done was the most important & special to you personally?

Mike – Putting out the Mass II album of Amenra was the most important one to me personally. I’ve been a fan of the band for years, & now being able to work with them closely was truly a dream come true. Being able to be a part of the history of that band makes me incredibly proud.

QRD – What are some things that make you want to work with a band?

Mike – The most important things for me are the music & the ambitions of the band. First & foremost, the music has to be there. It has to be excellent music, fresh sounding & it has to fit in aesthetically with what we’re doing. But that’s only the first part. Secondly, I have to feel the band really wants to conquer the world. They need to have their hearts in the right place, & they need to be willing to put in the extra mile. As we’re regarding ourselves as just a partner in the release of their album, we need to know & feel the other partner is up for it too. If that all comes together, I’m always in for a new partnership!

QRD – What are some things that would make you stop working with a band?

Mike – As stated a few times, we’re not the “bosses” of the artists. We’re all equal partners & work in good trust. If you damage that trust, we stop the collaboration immediately. Luckily, it hasn’t happened all that much, but sometimes it does occur. Some bands are being overly opportunistic & want to waltz all over us. In that case we pull the plug & all support ends then & there.

QRD – What is the thing all releases on your label have in common?

Mike – Although we do some pretty diverse things (from ambient to drone to post-metal/sludge or even black metal), there is a common aesthetic. There aren’t really criteria set in stone, but it has to have the right “feel”.
Ok, it’s mostly slow music, dark, brooding & intense, but it can take on many forms. However, if you look & listen back to what all we’ve done, every release does make sense. It makes me really happy when a reviewer states this or that release as a logical Consouling release. We haven’t exactly got a manifest of things we do, but apparently people do also hear the aesthetic unity we put forth.

QRD – How involved are you with a band for acting as a producer as far as hearing demo ideas or selecting tracks to be on a release or mixing & mastering?

Mike – I don’t want to have any executive decisions about that, but if a band has some questions they want to run past me, I’m always here for them. I believe in complete artistic freedom, so I wouldn’t dare to interfere with the creative process. But of course, I’m always willing to put my two cents in the mix too.

QRD – How involved do you like to be in the artwork design for a release?

Mike – In the artwork department, the band is completely free too. We have some restrictions (nothing politically charged or shocking just for the shock of it. No racism, no homophobia, no discrimination…), but those go without saying of course. It’s just common sense I guess. Apart from that, the bands are completely free to have the artwork lined up with their music. If they don’t have a clue what to do with the artwork, we can put them in contact with designers or artists & they can work out the artwork among themselves. But it’s not mandatory. It would be inviting another partner to the release, but if the want to do it themselves, that’s completely fine too.

QRD – How long is it from when an artist delivers an album to you until release date & why?

Mike – That depends, but usually we’re talking about half a year between receiving the files & releasing the album. The reasons are manifold. Firstly, we have our release schedule. Right now it’s really busy & things are timed to the millisecond. So it’s not possible to squeeze in new things. But apart from that, the planning of promotion & distribution also takes some time. We rather not rush things in order to insure a maximum impact when the album is indeed going to be released. & apart from that you also have to factor in production times of course. CDs can be made relatively quickly, but vinyl is a nightmare that takes several months to have produced. So everything needs to come together, & that does take some time.

QRD – If a band breaks up between the recording of a release & the release date, how does that effect what you do?

Mike – Seeing as we usually vet the bands we’re about to release profoundly, things like that never really happened before. & we hope to keep it that way.  Of course, if it were to happen, we would make the most out of it & put out the best possible farewell album we possibly can.

QRD – What do you wish bands on your label would do?

Mike – The bands on the label have to use the label support to make things happen themselves. We can create circumstances in which doors get unlocked, but they have to put in the effort & energy to kick in the doors themselves. That’s also what partnering up means: we release an album & do as much promo as we can, but the band has to take it from there & play shows, go on tour, & put in a lot of work to get the very most out of the release.

QRD – What’s a record you’d like to put out that you’ll never be able to?

Mike – There are a lot of records I wished we would’ve released actually. Most recently I’d say the latest Dark Buddha Rising album & the album of local band Future Old People Are Wizards. Those are two remarkable albums that really would’ve fitted in our roster perfectly. Big fan of both bands!

QRD – If you really like a band, but aren’t sure you could sell many copies of their record; what do you do?

Mike – We actually have a few of those releases under our belt. We have created two label lines. Our main label line “SOUL” is for the “normal” releases, but we also have the “CON” line. On the latter we put out special editions, or small editions of remarkable bands that probably won’t sell that much. But that way we try to give it the attention it deserves, within the constraints of a small edition.

QRD – How is financing of a release split between artists & the label?

Mike – Co-releases are difficult for us nowadays. We have contracts with several distribution partners for different territories & they expect exclusivity for the releases. That would mean the co-releasing partner is prohibited from distributing the album themselves, or to sell wholesale. That’s something you just can’t ask from a co-releasing partner, so we sadly don’t do those anymore. We have done some in the early days of the label & we have very fond memories of those opportunities. But well… We can’t complain of course. Being able to work with those distribution partners really helped us grow as an organization. You can’t have your cake & eat it too I guess.

QRD – How do you split profits from a release between artists & your label?

Mike – That all depends on the kind of deal or agreements we make, but I can vouch for the fairness of the deals!

QRD – Do you have written contracts with your bands or handshake deals?

Mike – We prefer to work without contracts in good trust. It’s more informal & feels more comfortable. We’ll do contracts if we have to, but if we don’t have to we’ll never do it. As far as we’re concerned, a word is word. & we always honor our word.
If the artists breach our trust, we stop the collaboration & that’s simply the end of it.

QRD – Do you take a cut of a band’s publishing?

Mike – We’re still exploring publishing opportunities. We’re actually looking for someone who would help out with that. Time is limited & pursuing good publishing deals require a lot of time to be invested. Right now we don’t have the manpower to do this properly. But it’s on our to-get-around-to list!

QRD – How important is it to you to have touring acts on your roster & what do you do to encourage it?

Mike – Playing shows is VERY important for bands. Especially in times when all channels are saturated with music, streams, video clips… you really need to stand out. & no better way of convincing people than by playing killer live sets. So it’s very important for us & the bands. We’ll always encourage playing live. That’s why we’re actively searching for a booker to work for our organization. So far we’ve tried a few things that fell through, but we’re working on it! Every band on Consouling should benefit from that, so it’s something very high on our priority list.

QRD – Do you handle promotions in house or hire out & why?

Mike – We do both. We have built up some contacts over the course of the years & it’s fun to personally touch base with those people. We also try to expand that network constantly in order to put our bands in a wider spotlight.
Of course, we can only do so much ourselves, so we work with promotional partners to complement our in-house promotion.

QRD – How do you maintain contact with your fanbase?

Mike – Because I’m the face of the store too, people can just come in & have a chat. But apart from that, we also monitor Facebook & Twitter closely. & of course, everybody can just shoot me a mail & I’ll certainly answer quickly.

QRD – Do you have intern & street team programs & if so, how do they operate?

Mike – It’s not like we have a formal street team working for us, but we have some friends around the globe that help to spread the word. That can take on many forms. Flyering, tweeting, Facebooking, getting press interested… & we’re extremely grateful for all things people are doing for us. Without the help of our many friends we wouldn’t be where we are today.

QRD – How big of a staff do you have & how big of one do you need?

Mike – Right now staff is very limited. It’s just myself & Nele for the time being. We would love to hire someone to help us out with daily operations & ideally we’d also have someone on board for booking & publishing, but that’s out of reach for the time being. We are constantly growing & evolving, so I certainly hope we can add some hands to our organization sooner than later, but it will take some more time.

QRD – What do you do to build relationships with record stores?

Mike – As we have official distribution partners, we don’t really focus on record stores directly. I think it’s the distributor’s job to build on those relationships. But that being said, of course we keep close & good contact with some record stores around the globe. Whether it’s just to touch base, or to think about cool collaborations: our lines are always open.

QRD – What do you do to build relationships with radio stations?

Mike – Consouling has a radio program at Urgent.fm, so it helps us to get in contact with colleagues around the globe. People who are doing their own radio show are usually just as crazy about music as we are, so we tend to hit it off really well.  Radio stations are always free to use the releases from our catalogue on air. So there’s a great collaboration going on between us & several radio stations.

QRD – What do you do to build relationships with magazines & websites?

Mike – Well, either we get the contacts of the magazine or website & we contact them or they contact us. We always engage in a dialogue & are very open about all we do. I think a lot of magazines & websites appreciate our attitude. We also have a mailing list “for professionals”, so that everyone can stay up to date about what we do. & if there are any questions at all, we’re always ready to provide the answers. It’s very personal & very hands-on, & it seems to be working.

QRD – What do you do to build relationships with bloggers?

Mike – We treat the bloggers just the same as we do with magazines & websites. The personal touch is always put up front.

QRD – Do you view advertisements as a way to generate interest & revenue or more as a way to financially support magazines & websites you like?

Mike – We’ve tried advertisements in the past, but we really got very little out of it. Seeing as we’re a label with limited resources, we don’t do those anymore. We sometimes just sponsor something we think is worth the while. Makes more sense in our particular case than pouring money into adverts that don’t really work for us.

QRD – What is the job of your distributors?

Mike – Our distributors need to let the records stores know we’ve got some releases coming up (or are readily available) & they’d have to convince them to buy them of course. We expect our distributors to cater to a very wide range of record stores & make our titles available to every business that’s interested in them. They also have to ensure a speedy delivery at reasonable prices.

QRD – How do you decide how big the initial pressing of a release should be?

Mike – That’s mostly experience talking. By now we have a pretty good idea of what demand there will be for a title. To make sure we’re not overstocked, we tend to go for smaller pressings. But as long as a title is relevant, we’ll keep it in print. So if we misjudge a title & it’s sold out in record time, we have a new pressing lined up in no time.

QRD – What percentage of a pressing do you use for promotions?

Mike – Most of our promo is mostly digital, but we reserve some 5% of the pressing for promotional purposes too. The international trend is to stop sending physical releases, so for most of the professional or bigger magazines, we don’t need to send physical copies. It’s mostly smaller magazines & blogs that are being held up by volunteers that still want physical copies. Especially Belgian initiatives can expect a physical copy then. We only have a very small number of physical copies reserved for foreign mini-blogs or small magazines. Sadly, the reality is we’re also taking the blows of the crisis in the music business, so we have to cut costs. Digital promo is in that respect a great way to cater to a very wide audience of magazines & bloggers without ruining ourselves on postage.

QRD – Do you sell merchandise other than the music (t-shirts, etc.)?

Mike – We have indeed a small selection of band shirts available too. Only from bands that are in one way or another linked to the label though. But we also sell books, patches etc. We don’t necessarily have to have put it out ourselves, but there has to be a link with what the label’s doing.

QRD – Do you sell music that is not on your label?

Mike – As we have an online & brick & mortar store, we do indeed sell a lot more than the own label releases. Our specialty is of course the genres we do as a label, but I try to maintain an attractive selection for all fans of guitar-orientated music on the whole.

QRD – How has running a label effected your own artistic career?

Mike – Ever since the label came into full fruition, I don’t have the time to make music myself anymore. I’ve been finishing an album for over 4 years now. But I just can’t find the time to actually finish it.  Some day...

QRD – Ideally, would you release your own material?

Mike – I do think I might release it myself. I mean, I have the opportunity to do it, so it might be the easiest way to approach it. But seeing as I’m in a chronic lack of time, that release of my own material won’t be happening in the next decade anyway.

QRD – What do you do to try to build a sense of community within your roster?

Mike – Oh yes, absolutely. As said before, we want to have the artists feel like they’re adopted by a new family when they work with us. But more generally, we try to create this sense of community between the fans & the fans of the label.  The Store is specifically designed for that. Between the records, there are tables & chairs & there’s free wifi so that people can come & work here, have meetings, or just hang. & people do just that, so I’m very grateful & happy that what we wanted to achieve actually took off.

QRD – What’s your most common conversation with bands as far as balancing artistic integrity & financial viability?

Mike – We try to accommodate the artists as well as we possibly can. & because we can partner up with a lot of different partners, we can actually do pretty much. Everybody’s willing to put some effort in it, so that the total costs aren’t insanely high.  Sometimes we have to make some adjustments in order to make a release work, but the bands don’t mind, as they know we’re willing to do the maximum for them anyway.

QRD – How often do you look at your “return on investment” & adjust your business model?

Mike – That’s a constant thing. We can’t afford to keep on losing money, so we have to make sure the balance is there. I don’t want to be taken hostage by numbers, but the fact remains we have to make ends meet. So it’s something we constantly keep in mind, & we try to do things as cost-efficient as possible. Sometimes we do take a loss, but we calculate in bigger projects to compensate. Up until now we managed to guard that balance. But indeed, it’s something to keep on paying close attention to.

QRD – Do you worry about search engine optimization & website traffic?

Mike – No, not really. I’m perhaps too old school about it, but I do believe that releases that are worthwhile will somehow reach their audience.  Of course, if we can optimize our operations, I keep an open mind about it, but it’s not something I’m really invested in right now.

QRD – What have you done to cut costs over the years?

Mike – I’m afraid last year isn’t the most representative one. We opened the store last year & it came with some beginner’s faults. But we’ll try to do better next year & keep closer watch of the costs!

QRD – Do you think the album format is dead?

Mike – No I don’t. Especially the genres on which we focus are heavily invested in the art of making an album. There are very little singles to be found in our genres. You still have to listen to an album as a whole. So I’m not that pessimistic about it. At least not as far as the focus of our label goes.

QRD – Do you think the return of vinyl & cassettes is a fad?

Mike – Cassettes & vinyl are here to stay I think. I do believe there’s a hype now & some things are also released on cassette or vinyl that don’t necessarily belong on that medium, but I’m sure that will even itself out. Some things work on specific formats, like demos on cassette for instance. & as people have rediscovered that, I’m sure all these different formats will stay alive one way or another.

QRD – Is it important to have physical releases over digital ones or does it not matter?

Mike – Oh yes, of course, this is also me talking from our perspective, but in the genres we operate there are a lot of collectors on the one side & a lot of creative people on the other side. The creative people want to make special artwork & packaging & the fans are eager to secure a copy. So the physical release is very important for us. We also have our releases digitally available, but compared to the physical releases there is far less interest for that.

QRD – What do you think of ultra-limited runs of releases (less than 100 discs)?

Mike – For some releases it makes sense. If you’re about to release something really obscure or experimental, it doesn’t need to have an edition of 500 copies.  A small edition also gives the opportunity to make something really special & unique for the packaging. So yes, it could be really cool for some releases.

QRD – What do you think of “print on demand” discs?

Mike – It could be great to have some out of print titles back in print. I firmly believe that as long as there’s an audience for it, a release should stay in print. If things like “print on demand” can make that happen, I’m cool with it. Although I haven’t really been inclined to pursue that myself. But if it meets a demand, why not?

QRD – How much content do you feel should be available free to fans?

Mike – That’s for the artists to decide. It’s cool to have some live shows available as a free download or something, or even the entire release if they feel it makes sense. I don’t really mind, because I really think the digital availability doesn’t take interest away from the physical release. Again, at least not in our genres.

QRD – What do you do about people distributing your music without financial compensation (piracy & file trading)?

Mike – Of course that’s not cool. I don’t mind sharing tracks. It’s basically the same as tape trading when I was young. But deliberately taking the album & putting it out for their own gain is not ok. It’s stealing from us & from the artists. We’re not exactly a big corporation & we have to fight to survive. So having people ripping us & the artists off is really not ok.

QRD – What’s something you see other labels do that you think of as borderline unethical?

Mike – I’m not getting into the specifics of things, because it’s not my place to criticize another label directly, but labels who squeeze out their artists as if they were lemons is not cool. Bands having to pay insane prices for their own music to go on tour is just not fair, for instance.

QRD – What changes in things would cause you to stop your label?

Mike – If I get fed up with doing what I do, or people all of a sudden have no interest in buying physical things anymore, I will call it quits. I’m a music freak & collector myself. I couldn’t make the transition to being a label “in the clouds”. I need to be able to work with physical items or I’ll stop doing it.

QRD – What would you suggest to someone starting a label today?

Mike – Don’t rush into things. Be aware a lot of administration & paperwork is involved. & be prepared to take on that paper work. It’s not fun, but it’s the only way you’ll be able to go on.

QRD – Where do you think money is currently most available to labels/musicians & where in the future?

Mike – The real money is made with live shows nowadays. Bands can ask a lot more for an appearance on the one hand, but also the merch boot is selling like crazy on the other hand. I think that’s something that will become more & more important. The money will be in the experience. & it can take on a lot of formats. It doesn’t have to be the “classical” band show on stage. I think the “experience-economy” on the whole will only grow & prosper more.

QRD – Why do you think labels are still important to artists?

Mike – I think I already more or less explained this, but I really think that a label can be a crucial partner in the release of an album to give proper promo & distribution to an album. Sure, you can try to do it all by yourself, but a label usually knows what it’s doing & it can normally really make a difference in getting the release noticed & picked up.

QRD – Music has had different hotspots on the internet over the years (newsgroups, MP3.com, MySpace, LastFM), but when MySpace died there was no real space that picked up the torch, what do you see as the place where “normal” people go to find out about & get excited by new music?

Mike – Funnily enough the video website YouTube seems to be the number 1 go-to spot to get to know new music. I feel it’s even more popular than Spotify or Deezer for those purposes.

QRD – Spotify has become an undeniable force that has reduced download sales while (allegedly) fighting piracy.  In the end what is good or bad about it for you as a label & do you embrace it?

Mike – You have to embrace it, don’t you? It’s better than illegal & nothing at all. But the revenue for the labels & the artists is really subpar. I do hope another, fairer, app will take its place sooner than later.  Luckily, we’re not that dependent from digital sales, but it’s an outrage all the same.

QRD – What social networks are you active on & what ones aren’t worth the time & energy to you?

Mike – We’re active on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. I also have a Snapchat account, but I fail to see how that can come in handy.  I keep my eyes open & try to stick with the times, but there’s also only so much time I have to spare for social networks. We already have Sander - who’s a great guy - help us out on Twitter. But I feel like in time managing, the social networks will demand a full employee.

QRD – With the rise of social networks & trusted download shops, has your own website become less important than it was a few years ago?

Mike – Our own website has become something static. You can find the basic info there, but the more day-to-day news works much better on social media. So I think they complement each other well. People can keep up with what we’re doing on the social media, but if they want to figure out who we are & what we stand for, they can visit the label website.

QRD – Do you think fan funding (e.g. Kickstarter) is the future, a fad, or an awful thing for the music industry?

Mike – I don’t really think it’s the future, but I do think it can come in handy to help to fund crazy projects. You can directly gauge interest with the fans & ensure a project can take off without the risk of financially crippling you.  I think we will venture a crowd funding project ourselves somewhere in the future too. We’re sitting on this great idea we sadly can’t possibly fund ourselves. So we might want to resort to crowd funding if we ever want to make it happen.

QRD – In 20 years what do you think/hope your label will be known/remembered for?

Mike – I really hope Consouling will be remembered as the label that was/is important for the Belgian scene in particular & the genre on the whole. We really try to give opportunities to interesting Belgian bands & place them in an international context. But in order to be able to place them in an international context, we of course need great international bands to work with too. It’s a two-way street. & I hope in time we will be able to widen that street considerably.

QRD – Anything else?

Mike – I think this has been pretty extensive. Just want to thank anyone who has supported us & who’s still supporting us. & thanks for the opportunity to speak my mind!