With the start of 2024 drawing close, we’re eagerly anticipating another year filled with ground-breaking releases and striking live shows. This year alone, Play Records have played an integral part in keeping the standard high and the energy raised within Electronic Music and we’re sure that the next year will be no different. So, we’re excited to be joined today by Simon Fraser, manager of the label, to talk about their plans for 2024, diving into the goals and projects Play Records already has lined up for the next 12 months.
What personal goals have you set for yourself in the upcoming year in your role as a label boss, and what strategies have you put in place to work towards achieving them?
Oh, I’m not the boss. I just run the show.
Looking back at the past year, what is an accomplishment or milestone related to your label that stands out, and what makes it significant to you?
Over a few months earlier in the year, we ran remixes contests for all 8 tracks off of Kardano’s latest album ‘Art of Tones’, on LabelRadar. That was a lot of fun work. And we’re halfway through releasing them as singles leading up to a massive compilation next Summer. So more fun work ahead too.
Putting together a really strong bunch of Techno and Tech House tracks for our annual ADE collection was also a lot of fun. Strangely, I seem to have more fun doing more work.
Are there any new skills or areas of interest you’re planning to explore in the coming year within the context of your label management responsibilities, and what has driven you to pursue these new endeavours?
Definitely looking into how some automated processes can extend our ability to manage a growing catalogue. I can’t call these processes AI, at least not in print. Calling them AI is pure hype. They’re just fancy databases. And there are certainly some use cases. But the sooner these processes are widely employed, the sooner people will understand their limitations, and the sooner any legislation will be imposed upon their use. Again, it’s just a fancy database. It’s as sentient as a cuneiform tablet.
Could you elaborate on the most exciting project or initiative that Play Records has in the pipeline for the upcoming year? What kind of impact do you envision it having on your label and the Electronic music scene?
Melleefresh is releasing an album of cover tunes called… ‘Under The Covers’. She’s got a wide selection of tunes from the 1970s to the 2000s to which she’s applying her own brand of under-the-coverness. The impact it will have is that Mellee will be happy about expressing herself through works that have made an impact on her. If someone happens to add those tracks to their Saved Songs playlist, that’d be cool too. The impact it will have on the label is 8 more assets in the catalogue.
Reflecting on your experiences from the past year, can you share one valuable lesson you’ve learned in your role as a label manager that you intend to carry forward into the new year?
We saw a big increase in the volume of demos that we receive. And we let that carry over into our release output which doubled for about four months. And for half of those months, I was out of the country producing a feature film. But we made it work with a lot of preparation.
The lesson: the more you prepare, the more can be achieved.
Balancing work and personal life can be challenging, especially in a demanding industry. How do you plan to improve your work-life balance in the upcoming year to enhance your overall well-being?
I have no plans to improve my work-life balance. Somehow, I find work to be enjoyable. Even when it’s incredibly frustrating, it’s somehow still rewarding. I can’t explain it. Maybe I snapped and became happily productive.
Is there a particular book, movie, or experience from the past year that has had a significant impact on your approach to managing your Electronic music label, and if so, what lessons did you draw from it?
I saw a documentary a year ago about the NYC Punk Rock scene in the late 70s. And at this screening, there were a few trailers for other Punk Rock docs that employed some of the same footage. And it seemed like someone had found a trove of footage and packaged it in different ways, from different points of view, with different subjects, but also some overlap between each doc. I do remember thinking that’s an interesting way of creating a series of related and sometimes interweaving stories. I haven’t figured out yet how that kind of format could be translated into the medium of recorded music. But it’s simmering in the back of my head.
The lesson: do new things the same way and same things a new way.
As we wrap up our interview with Simon Fraser, we thank him for speaking with us today and giving us a glimpse into what fans can expect from Play Records throughout the next year. A label that continues to cement itself as a prominent influencer within the genre, Play Records is one to keep an eye on, so be sure to follow them across social media.