Label Interview with Filipe "ps" Cruz of Enough Records
August 5, 2017
Name: Filipe “ps” Cruz
Label: Enough Records
Artists Roster: too many to list
QRD – When & why did you start your label?
Filipe – Back in 2000 we were running an online 24/7 pirate webradio called Enough Radio. After some talks on how hard it was to release new material, we decided to create our own label & release things from our friends. We had backgrounds in the demo scene & tracked music groups scene, so sharing music online for free was common practice; the attention around netlabels was booming at the time, caused by the music industry’s inability to adapt to the digital models. So we ended up becoming the first Portuguese netlabel.
QRD – Where did you get the money to finance your first few releases?
Filipe – Releasing digitally is completely affordable, that was one of the drives to create the label to begin with. Later on we did a few physical releases as well, usually self-financed by the artists or the label.
QRD – How many releases have you put out?
Filipe – 20 compilations, 405 regular releases & 26 mixtapes.
QRD – How many releases would you like to do a year?
Filipe – We used to be much more prolific releasing, it comes with its upsides & downsides. On one hand activity calls more activity, on the other hand you need some time to promote every release more properly. We are more strict with quality control nowadays so our aim is around 1 or 2 releases per month maximum.
QRD – How many hours a week do you work on the label & how many would you like to?
Filipe – It depends on periods, but on average I estimate that I work around 1 hour each day on label things, so that’s around 7 hours a week. At some point you are so used to doing certain tasks that they take much less time than they initially would, pushing out new releases gets almost streamlined for example. But there are always new ideas & small things to try out to bring value to the label & engage with listeners.
QRD – What are the fun &/or rewarding parts about running a label?
Filipe – When people mail back or tweet that they really liked a specific release.
QRD – How do you feel labels are more & less useful to artists now than they were five years ago?
Filipe – They still play an important role, mostly in quality curation, feedback for the artist & genric promotional support. That being said I believe nowadays you have much better tools & platforms for artists to make it on their own compared to 5 or 10 years ago. Sometimes I ask myself why would an artist prefer to release through Enough Records instead of on its own. I believe answering that question is what drives me to test new platforms & try out new promotional things.
QRD – How have your motivations for having a label changed over time?
Filipe – It fluctuated a lot, I considered stopping the label a few times, but after so much time invested in it, it became more of a way of life for me, so it’s just what I do now. What really demotivates me is when an artist requests that we remove a release from our back catalogue. Artists treating labels as promotional temporary workers leaves me a bitter aftertaste.
QRD – What do you feel is the biggest waste of your time running the label?
Filipe – Promotion I guess. Not a waste of time per se, since it needs to be done or there is no point in having a label to begin with, but it’s certainly the highest time consuming task that you never get any positive feedback from.
QRD – What are some labels you admire or feel a kinship to?
Filipe – So many that I feel I shouldn’t name any names or risk forgetting some important ones. Lots of commercial labels for the quality of the music they put out, but also a few fellow netlabels for still keeping it real.
QRD – What other work experiences prepared you to have a label?
Filipe – None, started the label before I had any work experience. J
QRD – What makes your label special & unique?
Filipe – Just our music & our artists. We try to avoid releasing albums that are just more of the same. To be worth putting out, a release needs to have character that brings it some replay value.
QRD – How has your physical location effected your label?
Filipe – It affects you only when you try to organize some local events. When you move cities you need to re-establish that network of local promoters who can help you out & that can be a bit of a downer sometimes. Lots of labels do just fine without ever organizing local events though. So it’s only a matter of personal interest.
QRD – Do you enjoy music as much now as you used to & how has running a label effected how you listen to/hear music?
Filipe – Yes, I still enjoy music just as much. I used to, listen to a lot more new music before I had a label; now I spend so much time listening to demos that I neglect most new acts that are not submitting to Enough Records. I still spend some time listening to random new things & new releases from old artists I like though.
QRD – What’s your demos policy?
Filipe – We recently re-opened to demos. We were closed to demos from new artists for a few years, trying to focus on promoting our current roster of artists more. But some projects went inactive & the number of releases per year were lower than what we’d like so we have decided to open the floodgates again for a while. Eagerly waiting to hear the next best thing. J
QRD – How do you find out about new artists for your label?
Filipe – Demo submissions, other artists’ recommendations. Sometimes I mail new projects that I find on Soundcloud or Bandcamp whose sounds I like & just ask them if releasing with us would be something they’d be interested in, most of those mails are types of emails are usually ignored strangely enough, maybe considered spam? Which is a bit demotivating; but well, if they don’t reply they probably don’t want to release with us.
QRD – How do most fans find out about your label?
Filipe – Social media & randomly searching for new music of certain genres on the many online platforms we upload our releases to.
QRD – What’s been your biggest selling release & why do you think it was?
Filipe – Since we’re a netlabel, the only time we sell things are on sites that force you to put a price tag on things. We try to keep it to the minimum or following a pay what you want model.
I can tell you 2 cases of unexpected attention:
We have a track by Julien Neto on a compilation of ours, that track ended up being used as soundtrack of an indie videogame called Osmos, due to the popularity of the game the numbers for that track alone completely went through the roof.
Another unexpected attention was the debut album of Herr Doktor. An album that had a lot of ping pong to make sure the quality was above amateur level (things like clipping, transitions, visible encoding artifacts), both on the tracks & the cover. When it finally was released the album did remarkably well (much better then some new releases by established artists with more active promotion), riding the whole new retrowave hype that was booming at the time.
QRD – What release that you’ve done was the most important & special to you personally?
Filipe – Hmm, hard to say, I guess I would have to pick one of the compilations; but which one, all of them are special in their own way. I guess I can pick This is Industrial [PT], which was a compilation made in partnership with Thisco label who we share some artists with; we made a physical edition of the compilation & also had a pretty cool event launching it. The compilation itself features a very diverse mix of Portuguese projects that explore different sides of industrial music. So it was a really cool insight on the state of the Portuguese industrial music scene.
QRD – What are some things that make you want to work with a band?
Filipe – Understanding the ethos of netaudio as a way of distributing their music. Not just using it for free promo until they sign a deal with a big commercial label.
QRD – What are some things that would make you stop working with a band?
Filipe – Asking to remove old releases from back catalogue.
QRD – What is the thing all releases on your label have in common?
Filipe – My curation.
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?
Filipe – Depends entirely on the project & how final their release really is, I offer as much help as possible, listening to the tracks & asking questions, giving feedback on what could be improved, etc. Sometimes helping with tracklist, transitions, mixing & mastering. Also help finding fitting cover artwork if the project is having problems with it.
QRD – How involved do you like to be in the artwork design for a release?
Filipe – If I dislike it, I give feedback on why & then we discuss if it’s something the artist feels strongly about keeping or we try to find something better.
QRD – How long is it from when an artist delivers an album to you until release date & why?
Filipe – Depends on how packed our current release schedule is; it can be approved & out in a couple of days, or it can need minor fixes or have to wait for other queued releases to be pushed out first, it might end up being queued for a few months down the line.
QRD – If a band breaks up between the recording of a release & the release date, how does that effect what you do?
Filipe – Depends if they still want to push out the release or not. I respect their decision.
QRD – What do you wish bands on your label would do?
Filipe – Just make their music, play gigs & increase their fan base.
QRD – What’s a record you’d like to put out that you’ll never be able to?
Filipe – Would really love to release something from Future Sound of London someday.
QRD – If you really like a band, but aren’t sure you could sell many copies of their record; what do you do?
Filipe – I don’t care about numbers. If I feel a release is worth listening to again I will put it out.
QRD – How is financing of a release split between artists & the label?
Filipe – We are mostly a digital label so the cost is near zero, amounts only to the hours we invest preparing the release, uploading it & promoting it; it’s a shared effort. Physical releases are usually self-financed by the artists & we have no claim to any sales of that. Some compilations we did were released as limited edition physical copies financed by the label, others were half-split by the label & the artists & each party got a certain number of copies for them to do with as they please (sell of give away).
QRD – How do you split profits from a release between artists & your label?
Filipe – We give our artists priority to explore their release commercially on all platforms (digital or physical). They can waive that right granting us permission to explore it on digital commercial platforms; we operate as a non-profit, so all income from digital sales is re-invested in label promo & we write a transparency report each year stating what came in & what went out. We also provide download & sales numbers to any artist who asks to see them.
QRD – Do you have written contracts with your bands or handshake deals?
Filipe – Used to be just handshake (email agreements), since a couple of years ago & mostly because finances started being involved & we wanted to avoid misunderstandings, we have started to have contracts that the artists must read & agree with before pushing out a release. Nothing too serious, just a one page PDF listing everything they are granting us the right to do on their behalf & what reaction they can expect from us on certain common requests that might occur.
QRD – Do you take a cut of a band’s publishing?
Filipe – Only if they allow us. We will still push out the release regardless of that decision.
QRD – How important is it to you to have touring acts on your roster & what do you do to encourage it?
Filipe – It’s nice to see our artists perform a lot, but it’s not really mandatory on our label, some projects just don’t work very well live (or people don’t have interest in pursuing it as a live act). Not much you we can do to encourage it beyond passing along some network contacts & promote flyers of upcoming gigs on social networks.
QRD – Do you handle promotions in house or hire out & why?
Filipe – In house. We don’t have a budget for it.
QRD – How do you maintain contact with your fanbase?
Filipe – Social networks, mailing list.
QRD – Do you have intern & street team programs & if so, how do they operate?
Filipe – Nope.
QRD – How big of a staff do you have & how big of one do you need?
Filipe – One person. Some occasional help organizing compilations & printing things, but we focus on digital platforms anyways.
Would be nice to grow it a bit, but our monthly income isn’t enough to pay a salary. & keeping track of what the person is doing would be more workload donated in kind, so... it’s complicated. J
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with record stores?
Filipe – Drop by, meet the manager, offer some releases for them to put up on sale or give away, try to work around the reasons why they would or not support it.
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with radio stations?
Filipe – Send emails, send promo materials, not get discouraged when you get ignored.
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with magazines & websites?
Filipe – Send emails, answer emails, not get discouraged when you get ignored.
QRD – What do you do to build relationships with bloggers?
Filipe – Send emails, answer emails, not get discouraged when you get ignored.
QRD – Do you view advertisements as a way to generate interest & revenue or more as a way to financially support magazines & websites you like?
Filipe – I don’t believe advertisements really work. We tried it a few times & it just felt like a waste of money, didn’t bring in any increase in numbers.
QRD – How do you decide how big the initial pressing of a release should be?
Filipe – We just do small prints. Depends entirely on the fan base of the artist/genre.
QRD – What percentage of a pressing do you use for promotions?
Filipe – All of it. We focus on free digital downloads.
QRD – Do you sell merchandise other than the music (t-shirts, etc.)?
Filipe – No.
QRD – Do you sell music that is not on your label?
Filipe – No.
QRD – How has running a label effected your own artistic career?
Filipe – On one hand it helps reach out a bigger audience, people know you for being the label owner so that brings in more listens, on the other hand running the label can eat away a lot of your free time that you could be focusing on producing your own material & you always have this annoying thought that maybe people are only saying they liked your album because you are the label owner & they just want to be nice to you for social status.
QRD – Ideally, would you release your own material?
Filipe – Yes.
QRD – What do you do to try to build a sense of community within your roster?
Filipe – We tried a few things, forums, mailing lists, but unless they share specific taste in music they usually lose touch. Luckily social media creates some groups of music makers where some of our artists hangout.
QRD – What’s your most common conversation with bands as far as balancing artistic integrity & financial viability?
Filipe – Since we focus on free digital downloads there usually isn’t much to discuss, sometimes they ask me for suggestions on how to tackle the commercial aspect, I always tell them to not be afraid to try new platforms, but to test things properly first before investing in something.
QRD – How often do you look at your “return on investment” & adjust your business model?
Filipe – Not applicable to Enough Records. We focus on the music, not the commercial side of things.
QRD – Do you worry about search engine optimization & website traffic?
Filipe – Yes.
QRD – What have you done to cut costs over the years?
Filipe – Nothing. J Just don’t spend money you don’t have.
QRD – Do you think the album format is dead?
Filipe – No, I love the album format, most music I hear is still listening to the full album instead of singled out tracks.
QRD – Do you think the return of vinyl & cassettes is a fad?
Filipe – It is in a way, but it makes sense as a physical format & will probably persevere for quite a bit longer.
QRD – Is it important to have physical releases over digital ones or does it not matter?
Filipe – Digital has grown a lot in acceptance, especially with all the streaming services around nowadays. But I think some people still have the stigma that a release is only taken seriously if it has a physical edition. Me personally, I can tell you most physical albums I bought on the last... 10? years were purely to support the artist, that most of them are still wrapped in their plastic, since I already had the tracks as MP3s before buying the physical or listen to them on streaming services.
QRD – What do you think of ultra-limited runs of releases (less than 100 discs)?
Filipe – I think it’s a niche. Don’t care much about them to tell you the truth. It makes sense if an artist does such a run to have stuff to sell at their gigs, other than that it’s just random collector porn.
QRD – What do you think of “print on demand” discs?
Filipe – See nothing wrong with it. Good for the environment to avoid excess prints.
QRD – How much content do you feel should be available free to fans?
Filipe – All of it. A fan will want to support you regardless of if it’s free or not.
QRD – What do you do about people distributing your music without financial compensation (piracy & file trading)?
Filipe – If it’s non-profit I thumb it up & thank them for the support. If it’s for a financial gain without approval of the artists I send a take down notice.
QRD – What’s something you see other labels do that you think of as borderline unethical?
Filipe – Can’t think of anything that bad right now. Maybe some spam tactics that don’t respect the end user’s wish to be removed is a bit over the top on some labels, but ultimately they are shooting themselves in the foot, people will hate you for not respecting their privacy, that won’t get them listening to your music.
QRD – What changes in things would cause you to stop your label?
Filipe – Hard to say, lack of personal interest on promoting new music I guess. Don’t see that happening anytime soon though.
QRD – What would you suggest to someone starting a label today?
Filipe – Beware that it’s much more (& constant) workload than you’re initially expecting, but if you love promoting new music you should go for it.
QRD – Where do you think money is currently most available to labels/musicians & where in the future?
Filipe – Bandcamp.
QRD – Why do you think labels are still important to artists?
Filipe – Curation, feedback, support, contacts.
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?
Filipe – I was really sad when LastFM sold out & closed off all useful services when trying to capitalize. Nowadays Soundcloud & Mixcloud work nice to find random new stuff. Bandcamp has a lot of hidden gems as well, but it’s impossible to search for them by genre. YouTube has been great for music listening lately (both for people uploading full albums there & for the 24/7 live stream radios). I feel radio in general is getting a resurge in interest, the curation process is important to find the hidden gems, there is so much new music out there, it’s impossible to find the time to dig through it all, radio shows & mixtapes of renown quality give you a good fix & window into a genre.
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?
Filipe – It’s quite limited, not having everything ever published, which destroys the concept of being your main & sole place to listen things from. As a user I think it’s overpriced & having ads all the time just isn’t an option. Things like YouTube are easier to access nowadays IMHO.
QRD – What social networks are you active on & what ones aren’t worth the time & energy to you?
Filipe – Pure social networks, mostly just Facebook. Having a presence on Google Plus, Twitter & Instagram can be useful if you push them to get new followers. Music related social networks you need to be on Soundcloud & Bandcamp, also Mixcloud if you DJ often. There are other niche platforms around as well, but these 3 are my favorite right now.
QRD – With the rise of social networks & trusted download shops, has your own website become less important than it was a few years ago?
Filipe – Lots of people just use Bandcamp as their website front, I see nothing wrong with that. We sticked with our old webpage & add the links to 7+ platforms where you can download or listen our releases from. We can also use it for other stuff like interviews with artists, etc.
QRD – Do you think fan funding (e.g. Kickstarter) is the future, a fad, or an awful thing for the music industry?
Filipe – Patreon feels a lot more important than Kickstarter nowadays. Kickstarter only works when you already have a large fan base.
QRD – In 20 years what do you think/hope your label will be known/remembered for?
Filipe – Still being active & putting out great music free to download.
QRD – Anything else?
Filipe – Nope. Thanks for the interest & the interview, it was interesting to answer all these questions.