We Talk To Dan At Cygnus Music About What They Do And Their New Mastering Engineer, Break

Posted by Adam on 19th April 2017

Hi Dan! How are you mate?
Very well, thanks for taking the time to reach out, we’re big fans of Ninja Ninja in the office.

Why don’t you start of by telling us a bit about yourself and your company Cygnus Music.
Cygnus Music is one of the UK’s leading digital distributors which specialises in Electronic and Urban music. We’re home to over 800 amazing independent digital record labels and manage a repertoire of hundreds of thousands tracks to over 140 stores and streaming sites all over the globe. Most people will know of us for our presence and expertise in the Drum & Bass, Bass Music, Dubstep and House Music scenes, however our clients are based all over the World and cover pretty much every territory and genre. Our focus is always fixed on our friendly and helpful customer service and having our own unique, in house label management infrastructure. This is what sets us apart from the rest.

When did you start Cygnus and what made you decide to start the company?
One of my best friends and business partner Lewis, set the company up back in 2009 and I become a partner in 2011. We both used to run successful record labels but felt there was a lot of room for improvement in the general way distributors operated and the way that some dealt with their customers. We also saw the way in which the music industry was evolving and wanted to launch ourselves as being at the forefront of digital distribution, both embracing and influencing the changes that were ahead of us. Now Cygnus is about to have its 8th Birthday and it’s been an incredible journey so far. We now work with some of the biggest labels, brands and artists in the entire Electronic Music industry and are firmly cemented in as a global and trusted brand. We offer Worldwide distribution, mastering, graphic design, web design, creative content, publishing, sync licensing, YouTube partnership and lots more, and still enjoy meeting customers face to face as being available on the phone whenever they need us…within working hours of course.

What’s changed the most for you since starting all those years back? Have you seen a shift in the types of music you’re sent or the types of people starting labels?
The biggest change is how streaming quickly became a part of every ones lives. Spotify now brings in an enormous amount of revenue for our clients and in regards to the industry as a whole…it could quite easily be said that streaming has saved the music scene (but that’s another discussion). Streaming in general though has massively changed the dynamics of how listeners both consume music and how they contribute to the revenue it generates. Downloads are still very much a big part of the DJ led genres however even that is now starting to lean over in to the streaming market, with DJ’s being able to stream tracks through hiring virtual audio locker space for a fixed monthly fee. As for the music changing, it’s fascinating to watch new genres pop up all the time and seeing what sticks, and the range and technicality of music out there is mind blowing! In the office we’re all passionate about music and every member of staff is involved in the music scene creatively outside of work. Between us we are DJs, Producers, Turntablists, Event Organisers and even Stage Managers so we’re all massively invested in to music which draws an enormous amount of extra knowledge and experience back in to Cygnus.

You’ve also got some big news about your mastering services and specifically a new engineer…what’s happening there?
We are very proud to announce that Charlie Bierman aka Break (Symmetry Recordings), has joined Cygnus Music to offer professional mastering. Charlie is an incredible producer who is internationally renowned for his unquestionable ear for sound. I hit up Charlie last year after hearing some of his masters and they sounded absolutely massive, there was no doubt that he had contributed to an amazing piece of music by adding his own unique mastering process. I proposed a business meeting at our offices and after a few hours of discussion over some Caribbean food he was on board and part of the Cygnus family. Clients can now book in mastering jobs with Break by uploading their pre-masters to our label management system via a simple sign up process. Clients who distribute their labels through Cygnus receive up to 20% discounts on all Shop items including mastering.

After so many years doing this is there something you see new labels doing wrong that they should stop doing and do you have any words of advice for anyone wanting to start a label?
Starting a label should be done with a lot thought and planning…. You only get to launch a label once and it’s incredibly competitive out there. Music, Business Plan, Contracts, Artist Management, Branding, Promotion, Radio Plugging, Accounting, Licensing, Social Network Management, Store Featuring and Top 10’s there’s lots to consider. I just messaged Beatport whilst writing this for an update on music deliveries and they inform me that they now receive around 25,000 new tracks every week. I would say the best time to start a label would be to do so when your brand or artist name is well known in the music scene or genre you’re in. Make sure you’re an expert in the scene as well and you’re in contact with the big players within it and keep in the loop with the industry leading music sites and blogs. If you’re a producer, get yourself out there and get some releases on bigger labels, get your DJ roster nice and busy and become a name in the scene and then consider your own imprint. It’s really all about your reach and connectivity with your fan base, but I would definitely focus on the streaming side of things as that’s where the biggest rewards are for label, artists and listeners.

With Cygnus growing so quickly what’s next for you now, where can you take it?
Fortunately because we had the foresight to build our own systems from the start, we are well set up for planned and any unplanned growth. We’ve also had a strict quality control system right from the start and we assess each and every label that comes on board checking out their music, promo plans, dj/radio support and potential reach. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed to get a label going, however quite often we’ll have meetings with clients and really go in to the logistics of launching a label discussing things on a much deeper level such as Spotify playlisting, Shazam fast tracking, Store exclusivities, takeovers and PR partnerships. We anticipate that the Breaks mastering service will be in high demand so he’ll no doubt be at capacity most of the time however between us we have come up with a plan to expand over the course of the year. There’s 6 full time staff at Cygnus and 12 part time or sub contracted staff members and we’re always keen to expand further.

Dan thanks for your time mate, is there anything else you want to tell us about?
We’re actually looking at bringing on some extra Web Development support this year so if there’s any one out there who is great at Development and loves music, we’d be interested in having a word. Also if there’s any labels out there who would be interested in knowing more about what Cygnus can offer, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Moving distributors might seem like a daunting process especially if you have a large catalogue, but we move large labels over every week and are well versed in making it a seamless transition with no interruption of down time to the labels schedule.

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