How UK Indie Label Dirty Hit Records Drives Meaningful Fan Engagement

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Cohesiveness is the ethos of the impressively innovative and fresh UK independent label, Dirty Hit Records. Founded in 2009 by creative genius Jamie Oborne and two others (Brian Smith, and former England footballer Ugo Ehiogu), this record label is unique in the manner it functions, pushing the artists to promote the other bands on the label just as they promote themselves.

Jamie Oborne created Dirty Hit Records while managing his close friends’ hit indie-rock band, The 1975, in order to make sure the band continued to create authentic music, rather than compromising their unique style and identity by signing to a major label. Today, the label represents artists such as Ben Khan, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Fossil Collective, King Nun, Marika Hackman, QTY, Superfood, The 1975, The Japanese House and Wolf Alice. As a manager, Jamie works closely with his bands to ensure success, from meticulously crafting tour dates, engaging fans through social media, and maintaining specific marketing aesthetics to breathe new life into each band’s trademark image.

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The 1975 was the first act on the Dirty Hit Records to achieve major mainstream success. It drew avid, dedicated fans to sold out tour dates as well as two number one albums, The 1975 (2013) and I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (2016). The unique aspect of Dirty Hit Records is the way the bands work together to help promote each other to create more hype, sharing fans in the process.

It’s as if the goal of the label is for the fans of one of the bands to latch on and become avid fans of the next band on the label, and the next, and the next, creating a whole unit of fans that is: Dirty Hit. For example The 1975’s front man, Matty Healy, and drummer/producer, George Daniel, helped produce The Japanese House’s EPs; Pools To Bathe In (2015), Clean (2015), Swim Against the Tide (2016) and the most recent single “I Saw You In A Dream” (2017). The 1975 also offered both The Japanese House and Wolf Alice spots as the opening act during their 2016 summer American tour.

In an interview with Music Business Worldwide, Jamie Oborne stated:

“I didn’t want to be just another manager. I wanted to focus on development and build a business that had assets, like a record company – with the artists sharing in the creation of that asset wealth.”

“Some people have said to me, ‘Is there not a conflict of interest?’ No, not really because the label earns at the same time as the artist and the management doesn’t earn at all. If anything, it’s purer because there is a symmetry that isn’t there in most artist/label/management set-ups.”

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Having The Japanese House, led by singer-songwriter Amber Brain, on tour with The 1975 offered the up-and-coming band an incredible platform to gain fans with unique indie-alternative taste, catapulting them into the spotlight and sweet spot of loyal Dirty Hit Records fan base.

Check out the brand new “I Saw You In A Dream” music video below:

With a fandom as strong as The 1975’s, when they encourage their audience to look into other artists, typically their fans trust their opinion and latch on to the new music in return. Matty Healy often tweets Spotify links to other bands on the record label, such as the new indie-rock bands, Pale Waves and Superfood.

Now The 1975 is promoting Pale Waves on their current tour, offering them the chance to play in front of massive sold out arena shows as well as intimate, smaller venues. With a unit as strong as Dirty Hit Records, the independent artists are given the opportunity to truly flourish and gain credible recognition and momentum into true stardom.

“I like to think we can be equally as serious about the business stuff as we can with the creative stuff,” Jamie told Music Business Worldwide.

“My aspiration is to offer an alternative to the major labels, as well as the huge management companies that take on hundreds of artists and wait for one to break. [We also want to be an alternative] to the idea of working with outside marketing agencies — because I want to be the best marketing agency myself.”

“I want artists to sign to us because they want to live in our vacuum; to look out on the world rather than be part of everyone else looking in.”

Oborne successfully found a way to manage and promote his artists, using social media, the production talents from within his label, and the power of fan engagement, for the greater benefit of music.

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