How to be a … Record Label Exec

Foals, Transgressive Records

Rachel Bolland has the job we all dream about when we’re crazy school kid fan-girls – working for the record label to which one of our favourite bands is signed.

As the Management Co-ordinator/Label Assistant for Transgressive she’s the proof you need that perseverance and not luck might just get you the break you need.

What did you do when you finished high school?
When I left school I decided to take a year out before starting uni. I was lucky enough to have completed a week of work experience with Transgressive Records at the beginning of my last year of school and, after almost 12 solid months of badgering them, they offered me a four month internship. After I completed that I went travelling in East Africa and then came home and went to Manchester Uni for three years to study History.

Last 3 jobs?
Transgressive Records – Management Coordinator/Label Assistant
Bleached PR – Press Assistant
Tonight You’re Mine – Floor Runner

Hard at work: Rachel, Tim & Toby from Transgressive Records.
Hard at work: Rachel, Tim & Toby from Transgressive Records.

How did you get your big break?
The aforementioned work experience was, I suppose, my big break. I’d booked a week of work experience at NME but decided I’d love to gain experience of working at a label as well. I had no clue where I wanted to go but, helpfully, earlier that year, the NME had given away three CDs called ‘Independent Thinking’, from three different indie labels. So I literally listened to all three and decided which one I liked the best, which turned out to be Transgressive Records. I went on their website, emailed the address on there and booked another week of work experience.

I went into that placement woefully underprepared, I’d listened to the music and as a 16 year old indie fan, I hadn’t stopped listening to Foals’ debut ‘Antidotes’, but I had very little knowledge of the set up of the company, I didn’t even know about their sister company Rockfeedback, an online magazine, TV and promotions company, and I certainly didn’t know that everyone who worked there was only a few years older than me. I arrived at their grotty office in Holloway and was immediately welcomed in with open arms, they’ve been very good to me since the moment we met.

Tell us about a typical day at work.
No two days are the same, I usually start by going through emails that have come in over night or anything that needs caught up on, then it’s going through our various artists and dealing with any ongoing projects. It varies wildly, if one of our management acts is on tour or preparing for one, I’ll be dealing with all the logistics for that, other times I’ll be dealing with marketing and other admin for the label itself. The weeks never seem to work out the way I expect them to on Monday morning, something different always comes up.

Who are the biggest artists you’ve worked with?
Our biggest acts are definitely Foals and Two Door Cinema Club, it’s insane to watch them do those crazy huge shows – I saw Two Door play to tens of thousands of people on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, the feeling was indescribable.

Who did you love the absolute most?
I’ve always been a huge Foals fan, they were one of the first bands I got onto before their first album came out so I really felt like I had ownership over as a fan, their live shows always make me feel 16 again.

Weirdest experience with a star?
When I was interning at the age of 18, Johnny Flynn did a solo tour and actually stayed at my parents in Glasgow – having breakfast with one of my favourite acts at that age was pretty weird for me.

If you weren’t a record label executive what would you dream job be?
I really don’t know, I’ve been doing this for so many years now that I’m never sure how to answer this one!

What can a job applicant do to get noticed?
The main things we look for when we get interns and people for work experience is someone who is enthusiastic, friendly and enjoyable to be around. Skills can be learnt and experience can be gained but being personable can really help getting that first leg up.

Can you give us your 3 golden tips for getting into the record industry?
Know your stuff.
Talk to anyone and everyone you can.
Be nice – being cool is temporary, people remember kindness

Your Career high
Watching 1500 people going mad for Johnny Flynn at his sold out Koko show last April.

Your Career low
I know this is a cop out but I try really hard not to dwell on these things – we all drop the ball, we all fuck up, the only thing you can do is learn, take the dressing down and move on. The chances are that you’ll never make the same mistake again and it’ll make you better at your job.

Your favourite TV
The Simpsons

Your Favourite Record
The worst question in the world! If I had to pick… probably ‘More Adventurous’ by Rilo Kiley, for sentimental value.

A couple of your Online Bookmarks
Facebook/Netflix/Rockfeedback/100 Recipes I will never cook

Taylor Swift or Katy Perry?
Taylor Swift

Last thing you searched for on Google?
Visit Scotland Instagram – I was feeling a bit homesick.

Follow Rachel on twitter