Our series charting the birth of ASTIR Recordings continues with a look back at the first six months - and with one eye on the future
Based in the southwest UK, Simon Huxtable has 20 years' experience as a DJ, music journalist and label manager behind him. Now, in 2017, he's going it alone and launching his own label - and we're following his progress every step of the way...
As I sit here watching Knight Rider reruns and revelling in yuletide joy, I cast my mind back over the last six months of ASTIR’s inception and growth, and I can’t help but wonder how the next six will go. Four releases in, with a fifth already on promo (Minus Five Wolves, due for a late January release), I’ve begun to find my stride.
I wasn’t going to release in January at all - no one has any money for music after hammering it for the two weeks of the festive period. But due to delays with some remixes, and the Beatport offices shutting down for the whole of December to deal with the enormous volume of music they receive, I kind of had to, as I made a plan for the start of the year which involved a big project and a first for me. Which I'm announcing right here...
February, I'm delighted to reveal, will mark my first foray into the compilation market (at least digitally). I cannot tell you how exciting the whole process has been, as I get ready to put out enough music for a year’s worth of singles and EPs all in one go. It's a big risk, but one I think will yield good results and put ASTIR on the map a bit more.
Along with releasing music and selling it in digital shops, I also have the publishing component active on my distribution deal now, which means all the music under the ASTIR umbrella will eventually (hopefully) make me and the artists a few quid in the longer term. I can also now instruct my publisher to look for sync deals (that is, get people to use ASTIR music on films/TV/adverts), which again gives the label more standing.
On my radio
Radio has been my number one promotional goal this last six months. I had a station I trusted, but after six weeks of poor listener numbers and a rubbish response from the DJ competition - most sent me a message saying "Yeah bro, anytime you need a mix hit me up". Erm, kinda missing the point there, bro - I left them and began working on the syndication deal I’d spoke of before. More on that after Christmas. I might even restart the competition, but I think the prize needs to be more impressive - DJs are such fickle creatures that merely having a guest slot seems to be no draw at all.
Probably the best thing to have happened over the last six months is getting my head around promo. I now use two separate ones: the free one that AMPsuite provide, which I’ve tailored towards press and influencers, and a DJ-centric one via a good buddy, Steve Parry (SMP3). His database has taken him 20+ years to develop and he’s the official music source for dozens of DJs including prog heavyweights Sasha, Dave Seaman and Behrouz. Since 004 (the Pako & Frederik remix pack), feedback has improved a thousandfold, including two separate instances of the famous "downloaded for R. Hawtin"!
DJs across the globe are listening to the ASTIR sound and playing the tracks in their sets - a brilliant Christmas present for me and all the artists on the label. Next month, I'll get into more detail about the compilation (spoiler alert: SO much admin!). Until then, I’d like to wish you a wonderful New Year. And if you’re out partying over the next few days, remember the immortal words of the great Ewan Pearson: "Have fun, party hard, but don’t forget to go home!”
Words: Simon Huxtable