This week, we spoke to Fraser Ealey – Absolute’s own Senior Label Manager, who looks after a diverse range of clients and campaigns from the phenomenal SIX: The Musical (Cast recording), Indie/rock band LOWLIFE to pop legends Bananarama. We asked Fraser about the specifics of his role at Absolute and what makes a successful release campaign…
Broadly speaking, what does your role as Senior Label Manager entail?
Essentially, as label managers, we are here to manage the process of providing an artist/label with the tools and experience for a successful release campaign. We work with a massively wide variation of artists/labels who each require a bespoke approach to releasing their music – and no one campaign is ever the same. Some artists/labels require a very hands-on approach and like us to be involved in every aspect of their campaign from suggesting photography, pulling video content together, hiring PR teams, TV and radio pluggers, and so on, coordinating every aspect of the release strategy and timing alongside the client. What we do is talk to the artist or label, look at their project on an individual level and then discuss the best possible people across various different disciplines to work on that campaign.
Then there are some artists/labels who come with everything ready to roll and require a much less hands-on service so the job is very much to ensure the delivery to the DSP’s is all correct and there is a workable release timeline to give the campaign enough breathing space to achieve its targets.
We can do as little or as much as the artist or label needs. As label managers, we have experience of running all types of campaigns from zero to release. Every campaign is unique. You wouldn’t be able to look at a Bananarama campaign and compare it to a SIX or a Charlie Simpson campaign. They’re each driven in a very different way.
It’s also about working with expectations. Some artists might be super eager and want to release everything all at once. It’s our job to guide them and possibly suggest that it may be better to go with a longer rollout of releases to extend the life of the campaign in order to build momentum rather than put everything out at once.
We use our experience to adapt and tailor each campaign across a broad spectrum of artists and genres. Au/Ra, for example, was previously released through a major and is now releasing independently on the Loudmouth label who appreciate the flexibility we can offer, which sometimes isn’t always the case on a major where you are fighting for your slot on the internal release schedule. Not having to line up behind another artist’s release schedule is incredibly liberating for artists who have been in that situation.
Are there any common themes between successful campaigns, in your experience?
I think the most successful campaigns are ones that are driven by the artist/label and ourselves as a unified force – because we’re all pulling in the same direction. We can build on that. We start talking to artists way upfront about their release so that we can make sure that everything looks and sounds good, and everything is in place so that, when the release does come out, it’s in the best possible shape.
What’s the biggest misconception about what you do?
People sometimes think we are the actual label – we’re not. We can act as the label and on their behalf but in the end, we still report back to the artist/label.
How do you approach your role personally?
I’m very hands-on and I get very involved with every artist I work with. I don’t just put music out for artists, I have conversations with them and make sure that we’re all working as a team. There’s always a frequent dialogue. I think you get the best out of people that way.
You’re also the Mental Health First Aider at Absolute, what does that involve?
It’s something that every company needs to have, I think. The main responsibility is to be someone within the office, who isn’t attached to HR, and that can be around for people who are struggling – whether the issues are inside or outside of work. You make yourself available for people if they need a conversation to help them with their headspace and more if they need it.
Conversations are of course completely confidential until the person says they need some action but, equally, if we feel someone is in immediate danger in terms of their mental health, we can flag it to them and make some suggestions. We’re like a listening service. We’re there to look out for people and their mental wellbeing – even if that’s just a chat with a cup of coffee.