Guest Column – Young And Lost No More: Six things we learned running an indie label

Influential indie label Young And Lost Club – responsible for early releases from the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Noah And The Whale, Action Plan, White Lies, Bastille and more, not to mention plenty of club nights – have decided to call it a day. The Overnight EP by Being There (below) is their final release, and in guest column for Q founders and school friends Nadia Dahlawi and Sara Jade (above) explain what they’ve learn from a decade at the indie coalface.

After ten years, seven albums, over 75 singles and approximately 1468 club nights there are definitely a few things we have picked up along the way…

1.Trust your intuition

This is probably the most important thing we’ve learned. The occasions we have ignored our gut instinct is pretty much always when something has turned around and bitten us on the backside. Especially when working with people in creative relationships, you have to know you’re going to be able to trust their artistic judgement. Things don’t always go according to plan (okay things never go according to plan), but when everything feels like a struggle or as if you’re forcing things to happen, then maybe there is a reason for that. Maybe we are more zen then we realised, but when it’s right everything just works out.

2. Be prepared to work hard

Running your own business is tough. You work non-stop, but if it’s something you love then it’s not a chore. When we lived together it was even harder, as it could feel like a board meeting kicking off from the moment we sat down to cereal in the morning. In hindsight perhaps we should have worked at a record label first and learnt the ropes a bit more, but being young and ignorant allowed us to get on with things, unhindered by any preconceptions or doubts. We were lucky that when we were setting up the label we knew each other well enough to take on individual roles in the company and let the other person to get on with it. More than just having similar taste in music we have similar ideologies which coupled with a strong belief in each other meant we very rarely disagreed or argued.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

We’ve been so fortunate in always having mentors and people willing to support us and give invaluable advice. We started our music fanzine at 16 while stuck in boarding school, and still work with people who used to read it back then, from Rough Trade Shops where we did work experience, to John Kennedy who was always so encouraging, to Ritu Morton who let Sara intern and then work at her PR company the day after leaving school. We have never refused anyone who wanted to pick our brains or just ask a few questions. Some of those who asked us how to set up a label have gone on to be way more successful than we ever were, but we’ve always been more supportive than competitive, even if it just means being generous with our time.

4. This leads on to number 4 – be nice and be polite

Why wouldn’t you be? There are a lot of egos in the music industry, which is ridiculous as no-one here is saving lives.

5. A big budget is not necessary

We’ve worked with budgets both big and small, obviously big budgets are great but some of the best and most enjoyable projects we have worked on have been when everyone has mucked in and been super creative with what we have. Noah And The Whale’s video for 5 Years Time cost £2 to make, but the charm of that video really helped break the band. The internet and affordable home recording equipment has made the music industry more democratic, anything that is special will eventually be heard and shared.

6. Vinyl is forever!

Even when the band you love has split up, that little piece of vinyl is a work of art that will always be with you. Our very first release was Vincent Vincent And The Villains, we had only started thinking about a label in the vaguest way when they said if we set up a record label they would be our first release, which was the best incentive you could have imagined. We’ll forever be grateful to them and all the other artists who entrusted us with their precious music and vision.
Nadia Dahlawi and Sara Jade @YALCRecords

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