Continuing my interviews with the Knowledge Transfer partners, I met up with Ruth Daniel from Fat Northerner Records up in Chorlton, Manchester, at the Jam Street Café…

Fat Northerner Records is an independent record label set up by Ruth back in 2003, for niche bands and artists that perhaps might not get backing elsewhere, with considerable funding from the Arts Council.  At its core is a commitment to a diversity of different music, working with artists on singles, albums and various digital projects.  Since its inception it has become more focused on project based work as a label, currently working on a project putting the poetry of John Cooper Clark to music, and organising a successful music industry event aimed at the grassroots DIY independent sector, called Unconvention.  “So we have kind of taken what we learnt from running the label and applied it to a music industries event,” explains Ruth.

She goes on to explain how her involvement with Interactive Cultures and Knowledge Transfer all started:

“I had an idea for a research project looking at how people consume music in the digital age.  Major labels have got enough money to commission research and Independent labels never have the time or money to do that.  As a label we had a load of questions, such as are people still going to be buying recorded music in a few years time?  Is it worth being a record label anymore?  Do we need to change into something else?  I had been following Andrew Dubber’s blog online, New Music Strategies, and saw that at Gigbeth a panel of girls had been asked questions about how they consumed their music.  I thought that was really interesting; nobody has really got out there before, and asked people what they are doing and why they are doing it.  I thought that we could be onto something interesting here, and went to speak with Andrew Dubber and Tim Wall from BCU School of Media and Interactive Cultures.  Now we are writing a bid for the ESRC.”

Ruth explains the unique situation of independent record labels, in terms of a different tension between commerce and culture:

“With our label it has always been about culture rather than making any money, in that we haven’t really made any money at all; it is a not-for-profit organisation, as is Unconvention.  We all have other things that we do to earn money, but releasing music and investing our time in music has never been about that.  We all come from a background where we were artists before we got involved with the label, and that can be really difficult for us.  Because we don’t have those resources there, it’s difficult for us to adapt.”

I ask her about the label’s relationship with the University and what Knowledge Transfer has meant for them:

“That’s why with Interactive Cultures, having that knowledge and those ideas there, and access to that consultancy is really important to companies like us, as we wouldn’t have been able to afford to access it outside schemes like this.  A lot of the stuff that Dubber thinks about is precisely this idea of music as culture, and I think that if you went to a lot of consultancies it would just be about making money and business, where as at least [the Interactive Cultures team] recognise the value of releasing music because you love it.  I think that is really important.  Certainly that is what we have done, we have worked with loads of bands, and it has basically been about giving them a platform.  We especially work with a lot of bands in the North West, and with them it’s been about giving them a platform outside of being in London.”

“Something like the KTF is really good because a lot of the time you are so busy balancing doing a job and the record label, that you don’t have the time to step back and reflect on it.  The really exciting thing about BCU is that connection with the world outside academia through Dubber’s blogging and twittering and all those additional things that he does.  I think he is really respected within the industry, and I think it’s really important to have that sense of ‘I am an academic but I actually get what’s going on, because I am out there, living it and doing it.’  I work at Manchester University on research projects within the Applied Theatre department, and I think that many of the academics at Manchester do not do that and I am trying to encourage them to get out there and use twitter and blogging.  I think that it is really important, as I would never have found Dubber if he hadn’t done that and I think a lot of people are probably in the same boat.”

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam eleifend neque vel lacus luctus ut scelerisque urna congue. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Nunc ornare venenatis varius. Sed eleifend aliquam lorem. Nunc nec ipsum massa. Duis imperdiet magna at ipsum tincidunt hendrerit.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam eleifend neque vel lacus luctus ut scelerisque urna congue. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Nunc ornare venenatis varius. Sed eleifend aliquam lorem. Nunc nec ipsum massa. Duis imperdiet magna at ipsum tincidunt hendrerit.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam eleifend neque vel lacus luctus ut scelerisque urna congue. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Nunc ornare venenatis varius. Sed eleifend aliquam lorem. Nunc nec ipsum massa. Duis imperdiet magna at ipsum tincidunt hendrerit.