Defected Records is a giant in the dance music genre, dominating the house music charts for over 20 years, churning out instant classics and harboring talent that has gone from strength to strength. Their foray into disco music has turned the sounds of clubland back to a much loved era of dance and birthed a giant sister brand and record label, Glitterbox.
With record labels popping up left and right nowadays it’s important for brands to be innovative and creative; not only responsible for creating quality music but building communities around the sounds they also represent. Understanding the whole value chain that surrounds music is key to growing a fan base and maintaining integrity in a disposable music environment that has evolved with the internet’s uprising.
Build a Community Not A Record Label
Creating a community is the aim of the game in any business and more so in music. Building a fandom that follows your moves, buys your music and feels part of your message is key. Creating a family away from family that shares common interests and gives fans a sense of belonging — without it you’re essentially shouting into the wind.
“WE ARE DEFECTED” is the brand’s value proposition and is instantly recognisable across the scene due to its use of creating a sense of family, community and inclusivity. Understanding the roots of house music and the diversity of its followers has been one of the reasons the brand has crossed boundaries and flaunts an open welcome to all — “In Our House We Are All Equal”.
“In my personal life, I have a great family, and I feel that the producers I work with, they’re my extended family, as are my staff, and that also extends to the people who come to our events,” says Simon Dunmore, owner of Defected. “I see the same faces in London, in Croatia, in Ibiza. And that’s something that I’m enormously proud of.”
Capitalise on Niche Markets:
Younger fans entering their first clubs, discovering Spotify playlists or being introduced to it via friends or family to the veterans of dance that have been moving their feet for decades — house music has no age limit. And when Defected spotted a gap in the market for bringing back the nostalgia of classic house and disco to cater for the older crowds and introducing it to the young, Glitterbox was thrust into the spotlight.
Featuring the pioneers of the early house movement, the LGBT and black communities are strongly represented in many of the Glitterbox campaigns and events. Opening up the doors once more to marginalised groups that once dominated the sounds of dancefloors but in more recent years hadn’t been celebrated at a mainstream clubland level.
Their DFTD label which Simon Dunmore describes as a ‘feeder’ label, signing artists quite early in their careers is another great example of catering for another market of a new, younger crowd. Opening up the doors and creating a bridge to the more experienced side of producers and DJs that connects artists and audiences the way house music is supposed to. Throwing a party for young or old, gay or straight, black or white, boy or girl. They’re doing it right.
Focus On The End User
Figure out what the people want — and work backwards. When the radio started shifting towards a more pop-centric sound and would no longer support dance records or unknown artists — Defected took matters into their own hands. Bypassing radio and creating events around 15 years ago to allow audiences to experience dance music in a tour-like setting, just as a band would do. This way the end user gets to interact with the music and the label gets exposure.
In 2019 — Defected’s 20th anniversary year — the company has sold over 450,000 tickets for its events and clocked 960 million total streams. You can see they put a lot of focus at the end of the value chain, which is streams and gigs. That’s where your music meets the fans and it all happened organically.
Creating accessible events and starting up their own radio shows allowed their reach to continue — creating that unique family vibe while supporting unknown artists as well as popular producers and DJs. Morphing into festivals, Ibiza superclub residencies and touring worldwide events has kept Defected at the top of their game for so long.
Invest in Content
Creating killer tracks with the equipment you own is an important investment. Investing in content is just as important in the age of social media. The world of promoting music has changed drastically and pushing your sounds online with the help of good content to grab people’s attention is the most effective way of getting noticed.
Not only do fans eat up the sounds of Defected — their content online is so highly engaging and audiences seem to love it. Carefully crafted and current in their approach they have a fantastic team of creators from varied backgrounds producing clickable, likeable and shareable content that pushes their message out globally.
Using techniques such as creating nostalgia-driven engagement by sharing old throwback classics to dubbing viral videos with their own music — these guys are on the ball. Using their social media to promote new music, events and news of the company; wedged between fun and interesting content in a perfectly balanced manner makes their strategy so successful.
Be Lean, Be Clean, Be Agile
Creating a business model that is ready for changes at any given stage is a must. Allowing mistakes to happen, learning from them and using the errors as development tools. Being lean in business means you’re ready for change and open to it. Find out what your audience wants and likes; pushing through with these ideas and being alert to trends is important to succeed.
In the 21 years that Defected has been active in dance music, the trends of sub genres flows in and out of popularity almost like clockwork. Staying on top of the trends without selling out — adjusting quickly — and adjusting again. For example, when the world was going nuts over EDM, Defected stripped down and reinvented. Making the right adjustments of what the market is calling for and delivering it.
Growing their audience organically and sticking to their core values — through the use of good communication, memorable events and trend spotting. Keeping a family of artists and their audiences within a cocoon of shared love, music and passion for all things house music.
Take a leaf out of Defected’s book when it comes to building your music brand. Stay genuine, build a community of followers, make money from niche markets, focus on the end user, invest in your content, do it all in a lean manner to allow mistakes to happen and grow with the whole process. Using these core values will set you on the right path for music industry success and build a brand that is loved the world over.