Interview: Delphi Records founder – Alexis Vokos – iTunes, Spotify, Releasing Music Today

Shane Cosgrove

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Record Store Day 2014
Record Store Day 2014 Photo Credit: Fred Rockwood

The UK Top 40 will this week include streaming data in their numbers for the first time. Your public Spotify sessions (Aphex Twin) and private sessions (Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton) will help decide whether Ellie Goulding will continue her three week dominance not singing that Elton John song.

Dolly Parton Seed Art
Dolly Parton Seed Art. Photo Credit: Jason DeRusha

Bjork announced that she wouldn’t be putting her new album, Vulnicura, up on Spotify because ‘it just feels insane’. Other big hitters such as Croke-Park-resident-upsetting country behemoth Garth Brooks and also Taylor Swift have decided against allowing their music to be streamed.

Independent Irish labels have had to decide whether to accept the meagre return from every stream one of their artists gets.

Alexis Vokos set up Dublin’s Delphi Records in 2009 and has had success nationally with releases by Le Galaxie and We Cut Corners. He began his career in the music industry by managing bands before starting his own record label.

‘I managed an artist in London in 2006, and there was a lot of interest, but no one signed them. Labels were becoming more careful with their investment because they were worried about their income streams from digital’.

After moving from London to Dublin in 2008, he realised that it was becoming increasingly hard to secure a record deal for those he represented. ‘When I started managing Irish artists in 2009 it made perfect sense for me to have a grassroots label so I could promote them from the start’.

The work involved in running a label came as a surprise. ‘I thought that if you were already managing an artist then the label stuff would be quite straightforward. I learned the hard way that a label is a very specific and involved undertaking’.

Days are now spent planning tours, paying and collecting bills, checking artwork and updating the label’s website. ‘You really just end up doing a bit of everything’.

‘As a fan you are excited about music so it’s really fun when you get to present the music to the world, let people listen to it and see the reaction’.

record spinning
Analogue. Photo Credit: Christian Kadluba

The cost of releasing vinyl remains prohibitive despite the potential for increased profit. ‘There is a lot of upfront cost; you really have to be ready six months in advance to get the artwork ready and the manufacturing done ’.

Radiohead’s internet release of ‘In Rainbows’ in 2007 kick-started a flurry of similar efforts that sought to limit the damage done by illegal downloading.

‘The lesson that people drew from the Radiohead release is that if you give people an incredibly good album for free, they will then also download it on iTunes and even go into a shop to buy it on CD when it is released’.

If more and more established artists opt for the Swiftian approach to their music appearing on streaming sites; a modest proposal – the shine may begin to come off what seemed like a good start in the response to illegal downloading for the music industry – Top 40 smashes or not.

See www.delphilabel.com

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Shane Cosgrove