Record labels are an important part of the music industry. Without them, we would never find out about some artists or hear their songs. On par with the three international giants, numerous indie labels are on the hunt for Danish talents. We decided to have a closer look at their work and philosophy. Having selected a few most exciting Danish indie labels, we sent them a questionnaire and asked for a playlist of the music they listen to in the office.
Today we start the Record Labels’ autumn on Good because Danish! Meet Songcrafter Music and one of its creators, Roar Amundsen…
Label name: Songcrafter Music
Year of launching: 2007
Danish acts on the roster: Ida Wenøe, KOM VI LØBER, MALMØ, På Slaget 12, Ann-Mette Elten, Martin Hoybye + two Faroese acts: Marius Ziska and Lena Anderssen.
The question hated by most artists and bands to start with: what’s the story behind your label’s name?
The story behind the name Songcrafter Music is that my partner Martin Hoybye and I wanted to create a label focusing on the craft of writing good songs with strong lyrics, great melodies and long-lasting quality. Songs that could be stripped down to a piano or an acoustic guitar and still work. A Songcrafter is a craftsman like a woodworker carving a beautiful piece of furniture out of a piece of wood. We see the process of making songs very much in the same manner. A combination of craftsmanship, experience and inspiration.
What is your philosophy and process of choosing artists to work with?
The vision behind Songcrafter Music has always been to create a home and community for talented songwriters and artists under the motto “All About the Craft”. We want to support music from artists that might not fall into the categories of what’s popular or hip on radio or streaming services right now, but whose music and lyrics truly move people, whether it’s live or recorded. My main criteria when listening to a new artist is that they have something to tell us from the bottom of their heart. That they have the courage to bring true emotion to the table and share it with us. And for me, the vocals are always the access point to the music. If the voice doesn’t move me somehow, then I’m not going to work with that artist.
When we start working with a new artist, we’re not the kind of label who just takes over on decision-making and rolls out a five-year strategy on how to make this artist the next big star. I want the music to be the starting point, and the raw talent of the artist to be the core of everything. I see my role as an extra pair of hands lifting the artist up and using my experience to help shape both the music and everything around it to increase the chances of their wonderful songs to be heard by more people. I’m very conscious about not pushing my artists into doing stuff they don’t want to do. True artists always develop and use whatever is going on in their lives as inspiration when creating their art. In my mind, one of the most fascinating things is to follow an artist career over many years. One of my most important roles is to make it possible for artists to keep creating and developing their art by helping them to secure their financial situation, building up their audience and finding new collaborators.
Why did you decide to open a record label?
Martin [Hoybye] and I worked together in a Danish folk high school in 2006 and had many good talks about being a songwriter and artist. We both really missed having a label that was “artist-friendly” in terms of short deals, so artists weren’t tied up by long and complicated contracts, and also focused on the music and long-term development instead of making money on quick hits. We saw so much raw talent that wasn’t picked up by anyone and wanted to build up a community around that.
What is your favourite spot at the office?
“Pejsestuen” is one of our meeting rooms where I’ve had a lot of great talks with my artists planning new releases and tours. I love the relaxed and cozy atmosphere of that room.
Which new releases are you excited about these days?
After the corona lockdown which stopped all activity for Songcrafter in spring, we’re really excited to be back on track releasing new music. We released a wonderful track from Faroese-Canadian poetry pop artist Lena Anderssen on August 14th called “State of the Land”. The song was recorded in 2018 in USA with the legendary Beatles’ technician Geoff Emerick. On August 28th, we released a new and amazing track by Danish folk noir artist Ida Wenøe called “One Step”. It was written under the lockdown, trying to describe the creative struggles artists experienced because of the uncertainty and fear of losing everything that we all felt and still do sometimes. Next one out is a charming and quirky song called “Bruger ikke at danse” (I Don’t Usually Dance) from Danish indie pop band KOM VI LØBER to follow up their summer hit “Hendes Ansigt” (Her Face). That one was released on September 11th. Songwriter Lone Slot Nielsen is a fabulous lyricist and melody maker with a completely original style. On September 28th, we released a fabulous new single from Faroese indie pop artist Marius Ziska, who just has the most amazing voice and a band that plays so well! It’s gonna be a great fall for sure for Songcrafter Music!
Any additional comments?
I’m so proud of the 35 albums and almost 50 singles we’ve released on Songcrafter Music over the past 13 years. But I can also see that it gets harder and harder to run an indie label. The change from physical sales to streaming has removed one of the cornerstones for both us and the artists on the financial side of things. Radio is taking fewer chances on new artists and new genres, and the number of music journalists has declined dramatically over the past 10 years. All this has been making it very hard to get the necessary exposure for a new artist. Blogs like Good because Danish are doing a great job trying to create attention around music that is not mainstream, but it’s tough that so much media coverage has to be on a voluntary basis. On top of this, the corona crisis has caused a lot of problems for the live music scene. Big artists now play smaller venues, pushing out upcoming artists from those stages. The good thing has been to see how inventive artists have been in creating new concert formats, whether it’s online or small pop-up shows. The next year or two will be very interesting for our music industry. I just hope that not too many great talents lose their faith and skip the music.