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The history of a small startup record label in a blog post... welcome to Lights And Lines!


Etymology

The name Lights And Lines came from a lyric in the song The Road by the Levellers


"Well, it's headlights and white lights and Black Tar Rivers, Dragging me around this country as it withers"

Originally we were called Headlights And White Lines and this was shortened over time.


The Road puts distance between a decaying world of nations, cities and pollution, and an exiled, group of touring musicians reconnecting with their roots. For a few moments on stage the band share a moment with fans away from the rest of the world. It felt very apt, very me.


That point about connection is why we started doing this. It's interesting to me that in a world that's more connected than ever so many people feel alone. I've always believed that music has the power to bring us all together as a community


Origins

Those there at the beginning will remember this started out as just me helping bands with video editing. Loads of bands had spent huge chunks of money on videos that were reasonably well filmed and edited like shit... editing for me makes a music video. Shooting is the easy bit!


The world was full of one man bands with a camera - all the gear and no idea - using cross fades for everything, with iMovie titles, no letterboxing, no colour grading... you get the idea. Some real shysters trying to earn wedge out of independent musicians. I have a video editing background and me being me... I rebelled!


Pretty quickly though bands wanted more. They were writing and releasing music but had no idea how to gain an audience. Aware that you have to tip the scales in your favour and having made lots of mistakes doing it wrong in the past I helped out where I could...

I ended up working on full releases with bands. Helping create and execute a full launch plan, thinking about singles, platforms, merch, mailing lists, reviews, airplay etc. We still helped out with music videos, and artwork, posters, and every asset needed to launch we created.

We put out an album and an EP end to end, and worked on various parts of


other releases for bands. In the same year we teamed up with Riff Taff Music Networking to support their fantastic free entry networking events for independent musicians to meet peers and people in the industry.


The following year we moved more into live music. I have always put on gigs, I wanted to go bigger and do something different! We put on the first Off The Record Independent Music Festival, helped out with Sussex Music Festival for the first time, and worked on marketing for the Riff Taff charity festival - Sounds 4 Hounds.


Zine

Figuring we’d been involved in the independent music scene in 1 way or another for over 15 years and had plenty of opinions about it we then thought we’d experiment - Headlights and White Lines became an e-zine collective shouting about cool music and art stuff we liked

We started to build a team of writers and publish regular content including reviews, tips for bands, and cool art stuff we stumbled across.


In this period we posted literally hundreds of articles, reviews, gig reports and more. But to be honest the zine wasn’t really us. It was great in theory but it became more of a review site and subsequently a hell of a lot of hard work to maintain and curate effectively.


Highlights

We have worked on loads of interesting projects during these first few years - some of our favourites include: ​

  • Supporting lots of successful album and EP launches

  • A complete brand overhaul for an independent podcast

  • Loads of cool video editing and album artwork projects

  • Writing an EPK aimed at independent record labels that ultimately got the artist a distribution deal

  • Putting on some amazing DIY live shows

  • Connecting with artists and fans every step of the way


The label idea

By 2019 the 3rd Off The Record came along and it had grown! We now had 22 bands across 2 stages with support from our friends at The Premium Blend Radio Show.


Keen to build on the themes of personal connection and curation at the centre of this success, we then started figuring out how we become a record label and remain a collective...


During 2020 I spoke to peers across the industry - people who ran indie record labels, marketers, and of course other bands. I needed to figure out how this was going to work, what people wanted and needed, where the gaps were, and what value we were actually going to add.


This is also the point where the name changed as everyone called is Lights And Lines for short anyway!


This year I started speaking to artists I wanted to collaborate with and put stuff out to see if we could align our thinking and amplify our collective voice. It has been a thrill and a pleasure to uncover like-minded passionate people who have helped me shape this whole thing .


(We'll announce some of those over the next few weeks, and we're always open to having more conversations with artists who want to be involved!)


And now...

Finally, to bring us up to date, having worked out we were going to do and why I decided to try out a crowdfund to take some of the financial pressure away and enable us to go further, quicker. As I write this we are 5 days in and nearly a third of the way there!


I really can't thank the people who have had faith in this concept enough! Your confidence inspires me and wills me to go further, try more, and succeed in new ways.


I also hope this brief story about our history encourages more of you to get involved and support the project - I believe this can shine a positive light on the entire independent music community.


At this point it's no longer just me. Off The Record has an entire Road Crew and members of this group have self-released music, managed bands, booked tours, worked on PR campaigns, written reviews, hosted podcasts, put on gigs, run festivals, and loads more.


There are more of us behind the scenes, each taking part as required and able, and each coming on the journey in their own way, for their own reasons. And I can't wait to see what happens next!


If you want to be part of the crowdfund click here. Or if you just liked the story and want to help please feel free to share this blog on Twitter, Facebook etc!


Thanks for reading, Mike - Label Manager