INTERVIEW: TLR | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Marketplace

A newly relaunched Teesside-based record label aims to combine musician development with quality releases, serving both artists and audiences. Launching this month, TLR (or (from) Teesside (with) Love Records) is run by Tees Music Alliance, who manage The Georgian Theatre in Stockton.

Spearheading the project is mentor, artist manager and musician Henry Carden, who explains more about the label: “Over the past few years, we’ve done a lot of artist development and mentoring work, which has been really rewarding and (hopefully!) helped plenty of Teesside artists progress with their careers. However, in some cases we felt that for us to have the impact we wanted – and that the artist needed – we needed to be a bit more hands on rather than just offering guidance and advice.”

The focus for Tees Music Alliance always leans towards support and development, with the aim of lifting musicians up and providing them with the tools and experience to succeed on their own terms. “As well as mentoring, the label is able to provide financial support for marketing and promo, as well as helping build a team around the artist for things like press, radio, marketing, playlist pitching etc. The aim is to do one release with each artist and equip them with the tools, contacts and confidence to do it themselves – or move onto a bigger label! – with their next release.”

We’re trying to put out music by artists who are at a tipping point where they’ve already done well on their own, but with our support, can hopefully step things up a notch

The current situation and lack of opportunities musicians have had to put their best foot forward on the live stage is also a consideration for the team. “Another big part of it is to help build a community of local artists. That’s something that’s been taken away from new bands who’ve been coming through over the past 12 months or so – they’ve not had the chance to play gigs and meet like-minded people. Hopefully we can help facilitate a bit of that, albeit virtually for the time being.”

Initially the label will be digital only, focusing on streaming, which is one of Henry’s particular strengths. “We’ll be looking to help artists build relationships with editorial playlist editors as well as independent playlist curators. It’s not all about getting big numbers though, we’re keen to help artists build sustainable and loyal fanbases who’ll join them on their artist journey for years to come. We’re not being constrained by genre and there’ll definitely be some great variety in future releases.”

The first release comes from Hartlepool indie pop band Marketplace, who release their track CHARLIE on 19th March. “CHARLIE is a ridiculously catchy indie anthem. It reminds me of Grouplove and that’s no bad thing.” Henry enthuses. Up next will be Hurworth-on-Tees songwriter Jodie Nicholson, who releases an acoustic version of her song Move which she worked on during lockdown; and a new single from Joe Ramsey, who was one of the last artists to perform at The Georgian Theatre prior to lockdown.

Henry emphasises that the team have an ear to the ground for other artists to work with in the future. “We’re trying to put out music by artists who are at a tipping point where they’ve already done well on their own, but with our support, can hopefully step things up a notch.”

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