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In this interview, I had the opportunity to ask Izaak de Bruin, owner of Memoria Vinyl distribution some questions about distribution and label work.


Memoria distributes many labels, for example, Ilario Liburni’s “Invade”, Nima Gorji’s “NG Trax”, IO’s and Tish’s “Mulen” and also MOi just to name a few.

I think it’s essential that you understand the industry. I see that a lot of young producers start with vinyl labels and think they will get very rich. ;-)

How is the exact process of distributing music from the producer to the end consumer?

When the producer finished an EP, he needs to find a record label who wants to release it.

If that record label is a member of our distribution group and wants the EP to be released on vinyl, they will send it to us. We check the releases and give our feedback. When the quality is good enough, and all agree this can work out on vinyl, we send the premasters to our mastering engineer. He will master the tracks for vinyl. (this is a different kind of mastering then regular).

In the meantime, the label should take care of artwork. When both maters and artwork are ready, we start up the process with the pressing plant.

First test pressings will be ordered. When they are checked and ok, we order the finished copies and start the pre-sales in the record shops.

After some weeks the records arrive, stores will send us their final orders, and the records are shipped to them. That’s how it works in a nutshell.

If someone would start a vinyl label, which five steps would you suggest first to take?

I think it’s essential that you understand the industry. I see that a lot of young producers start with vinyl labels and think they will get very rich. Do your research.

First try to find out everything you can about pressing plants, marketing options, distribution services, mechanical rights, etc. There are so many factors to think about.

First, know what you are talking about before starting a record label. Back in the days when we did not have so many record labels, it was usual to sell 500 to 2000 copies from each release.

Nowadays we have too many record labels in my opinion. I think we can say we sell more vinyl now than a couple of years ago BUT we sell lower quantities per EP. Just because there are too many releases. There is too much quantity over quality IMO.

So my advice is: First make sure you have at least 2 or 3 excellent EP’s ready before you start thinking about releasing on vinyl. It’s better to wait until you have a high standard then releasing just because you want to have a vinyl release out!

How many tracks do you suggest should a label have ready in advance before they release their first EP?

Funny… look at my previous answer… More than one release at least. So you can guarantee the quality of your label for a longer period.

How long are the waiting lists of pressing plants in Europe on average?

It’s really depending on so many factors. Like the weather for instance. The weather is of significant influence. (especially in the summer). This is because when the temperature is too high, the presses can’t work at full capacity.

Pressing plants still work with equipment from 20/30 years ago. You can compare it to an oldtimer car. You can perfectly drive it sometimes, but when you drive in your oldtimer 24/7 each day, it will get in trouble.

Also, vinyl records get warped when the temperature is too high. So when it’s hot outside, the pressing plants slow down the capacity and there will be delays.

In general, it’s in between 10 and 14 weeks now.

Where are the pressing plants located that you are working together?

We work with multiple pressing plants. But for now, most of our releases are pressed in Holland at Record Industry. It’s easier for us to communicate since we are from Holland as well. The quality is always good there.

Why did you start a distribution service?

The main reason: I was not 100% satisfied with the distribution service I was receiving at that time. Looking back… I think now it was more my fault.

My expectations from what a distributor needs to do were not correct. I expected to make money when I didn’t. I expected to sell more copies.

But in the end, the distributor is only the middleman. The record labels need to make sure that records are being sold by creating great EP’s, working with great artists, doing a good promo campaign, creating a big group of followers etc.

This is basically what I experience now myself as a distributor.

The expectations from record labels are not correct, the same as my expectations at the time.

Do you accept every new label?

No! We are very strict on the labels we bring in.

We used to be a lot easier back in the days, but I strongly feel the responsibility to filter to good from the bad. Especially when I say labels to always choose for quality over quantity.

We should give the right example!

When we accept a new label, always at least two people from our staff should agree independently fromeach other.

When one of the two is not 100% convinced, we don’t sign.

What were the three most challenging obstacles that you had to build a label and distribution service?

So many times I hesitated to quit over the years… Especially in the early years because it was working long hours without getting the reward of a good salary.

When you are in your 20’s, it’s all ok, because you don’t need that much. But when you get older, you also need some safety.

My strongest advice is: Think really good if you want to make your living in the music industry or you see it as a hobby, and you have a daytime job next to it. If you choose for the first one, be prepared to give all of your time, love and energy and accept that you will not make a lot of money in the first years.

Building a strong brand takes time. But in the end (see Memoria..) It’s all worth it!

For example, when you see someone you don’t know walking around in a Memoria t-shirt when you are on holiday in Ibiza, that’s so cool! It gives me all the energy I need.

What are some difficulties about your daily work with pressing plants or clients?

Pressing plants:

We do so many releases every week; it’s a battle every time again to make sure the deadlines will be reached. Like I said before, it depends on so many external factors, it can be very frustrating at some points.


What I feel is the most challenging thing nowadays is fighting against the high expectations. All the labels expect to sell very high quantities. And if they don’t they feel it’s our fault or the shops. But the reality is different.

There are way too many releases every week. This affects the sales. Besides that, labels should think twice before signing a vinyl release…

They should think: Is this the best we can or should we wait a couple of weeks to make it better.

How looks like a “normal” workday in your office?

We start at 8.30AM and usually work until 6 PM. My days always look different. Skype meetings with label owners, sales meetings with the sales department. Talking to shop owners. Some accounting…

A lot of people say to me: Wow… you have made your work from your hobby! But in reality, 80% if the time I’m having meetings and doing accounting! The best part is that 20%: listening to new demos or new labels.

That is what makes it still fun to do!

How do you manage family life & business?

It’s hard sometimes because most of my clients or producers and deejays.

They have very strange working hours. I was two young children at home. Years ago I was always on the phone, even when I was at home in the nights or weekends. Now I’m trying to do it differently.

I found out that 99% of the times things can wait until the next day.

How do you connect with new clients?

Mostly it’s because their friends are already our client and they speak positively about us, so its word of mouth.

What are the essential elements to run a successful label (except quality music of course)?

You need to stand for what you are doing! And have a vision.

Let me give an example:

Some years ago a specific deep-house sound was getting very popular. I can see our sales was getting less and less. The easiest way was to sign artists and EP’s in that genre that was popular at the time.

But I didn’t! Because it didn’t fit. I think this is one of the key factors of the success of Memoria.

Of course, our sound changed a little over the years, but the feeling is always the same.

What is your background, had you ever a day job that you hated back in the days, if yes how did you made the change to where you are now?

Not really in my adult life I always worked in the music industry. First as event promotor, later as bookings agent and artist manager.

You said Memoria Distribution is expanding. How many people that are working full time are involved in the company at the moment?

We have some excellent collaborations with other distribution partners as well. We work now with a group of 8 guys.

How do you think about new technologies like Spotify?

Do you use it privately?

Yes, of course, I use it.

I see the + and – from services like this.

The biggest + is that you can easily reach a large group of followers. Those people can end up buying vinyl records as well. Or go to your show when you are in town.

The biggest – : The sound quality is low, and the money is super low for artists.

There was the digital revolution in Beatport; everyone did digital releases, I remember there were some producers that put „digital only“ behind their tracks. Ironically, today the same happens with vinyl releases. What do you think will change in the House and Techno scene in the next ten years?

I also see the marketing side of being “Vinyl Only”.

But in the end, it’s not more than that… marketing!

People should stop taking themselves to seriously with this. I sometimes receive demos from 19-year-old guys “who want to do a vinyl-only release.” It only makes me laugh.

I hope in the next ten years the House/Techno scene will be bigger and in a way more commercial. If that means that more clubs/festivals play good house/techno music instead of this freaking horrible EDM stuff.

It’s time to take House and Techno to the next level. Of course, there is still room for dark underground clubs. But I don’t see anything wrong with adding new people to the fanbase.

Find out more about Memoria Distribution:

Updated: Nov 18, 2018

I had the opportunity to ask Paolo questions about production and what is needed today to „make it“ in this industry.


Paolo Rocco is running his "vinyl-only" label „RawMoments.“ But yeah, I know you already know

that, so no bla bla & big introductions needed, let's go:

I'm actually not productive most of the time. I release maybe 15% of what I actually make. It's part of the process.

Is every track that you start, a club banger or, let’s say on a level that has potential to get released, or are there also other days where you aren’t productive in the studio?

I'm actually not productive most of the time. I release maybe 15% of what I actually make. It's part of the process. I make a bunch of music, shelf it for a bit, and when I get back to it if I'm still keen on it I'll start shopping it.

How would you describe a good producer?

Which qualities does a good producer to have in your own opinion?

Hmm. Every producer out there could probably write a whole book on this question. I guess to me a good producer is someone who's able to get moving parts together to reflect a specific vision / product.

In the last five years, how did you improve your productivity in the studio?

Do you have some pieces of advice for being faster in the studio (workflow etc.?)

I mean my advice would actually be not to worry about speed. Most of the time speed compromises quality. That's not to say you don't have to be disciplined. You can't just make loops every day without toughing through finishing up projects, but I don't think one should put pressure on how fast they finish those projects. Just try to make it the best product you can and eventually things click.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven aspiring producer to enter the “electronic scene”? What advice should they ignore?

The best advice I could give aspiring artists is: "Nobody gives a shit about you".

It sounds kind of harsh but it's what someone told me when I signed my first record.

I was excited about it and was expecting a congratulation versus that comment though haha.

Now I do think that person could have been jealous and told me that to take a jab at me; but it actually did help (which probably was not their intention). From that point on I realized it took a lot more than just signing one record. And realizing you haven't done enough is great motivation to do more.

The advice that an artist should ignore is advice coming from anyone who isn't in the position you want to be in. Think about it, why would you take serious advice from someone on how to accomplish something they haven't?

Advice is great, but be careful of where it comes from regardless of the person's intentions. If it comes from a source backed by experience then pay extra attention to it even if goes against what you think; if the advice comes without the experience it may still be useful but be conscious about the source.

If you could spend one day in the studio with a producer, who would it be and why?

Pharrell Williams. He's great at making both music and not music related products. I'd love to pick his brain.

Let’s talk about the “artist life”: Many people want to become a traveling DJ or make a living out of music. Do you think it’s easier nowadays than 10, 20 years ago with all the technologies and the internet?

No. I think every generation presents its own challenges. Although it might be easier / cheaper to produce or to learn how to DJ. It also makes for a saturated market where it's harder to be heard and found.

Do you have three crucial tips for young artists how to make it in the 21st century in our scene?


Don't worry about branding or marketing until you have a solid product.


Don't worry about getting management, agent, or team around you until you have a solid product.


Don't worry about anything until you have a solid product, and you'll know you have one when people start coming to you asking for it.

How important is Social media in this process?

It's very important, but it's also very easy. You can pay to have things like social media managed if need be. What you can't pay for (usually) is having a good consistent product. You can buy all the Facebook likes you want, or pay for your online content to be managed, but if you don't have good content in the first place people won't be interested. That being said when you have the goods, you have to have a proper strategy to make sure they get the exposure it needs.

What is exactly a brand for an artist? Is it just a name and maybe a logo?

I think a brand is an extension of your products vision.

So if someone makes ABC music, the branding has to be able to reflect that.

Whether it's imagery, colours, style, text...You have to be able to look / digest whatever it is and know what it sounds like.

Was there a pivotal point sometime in your career where you realized that social media is so important for artists?

I realized very early on actually.

I'm talking pre-Facebook during the MySpace age. But I also realized later on it's useless unless one has the music and product to back up the social media pumping. Platforms come and go, a person can't have total control or ownership of whatever they put on them. What they can own is their product, their music...

I remember when Facebook had no fan pages, just groups. Everyone I knew (including myself) started hustling to get people to join their public fan group. And we were posting to all our fans keeping them up to date. Then Facebook forced everyone to move to pages. Soon after Facebook made us slaves using these pages they started limiting the reach unless one paid for promoted adds.

Now we get to present day where on a 30 000 liked fan page you're lucky if 1000 people see what you post without having to dump money into it.

There's a lot of energy into building these pages, but what's the point in using all that energy if the rules of the game keep being changed.

I believe that energy is better spent on creating the actual product. Nothing brings better social media buzz like a hit record, or great video of you killing it, or other people sharing your content.

For sure a social media strategy is essential in getting your product out, but you need that kick-ass product first. I find a lot of people worry about selling their product before really refining what that product actually is.

May you have some useful book suggestions or other resources where you learned that branding stuff?

I don't. It's mostly just experience and a lot of trial and error. I also like watching interviews of people who have had success in their life. It can be anything from actors, inventors, experts, anybody who operates at the highest level. You end up picking up similarities in these people. And although it's not really an ideal source for information it helps inspire me to get thinking outside of the box. And that's what branding is all about. It's about finding out of the box ways to represent your uniqueness. I believe anyone can be good at branding when their inspiration meets their creativity.

This question is a little bit a provocative one for you as a label owner: I just chatted with a guy on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, and he told me about Bandcamp. Why is it still necessary to run a label, especially a "vinyl only" label, even if producers can just set up a Band Camp account and deliver their music straight to their fans within a few minutes and little costs?

This is a personal thing. In today's market, there's no right or wrong way to put out a product.

For me having a vinyl-only imprint keeps my music a little more exclusive and I find it helps make it less disposable. Sure it costs more but taking the human psyche into consideration people generally respect something that's harder to get, over something easy.

I also like the way the final product comes out. It's something I can touch, see, feel... It's something I personally enjoy. That's maybe the business side of me being biased by the kid in me. I still remember going to record stores, digging through vinyl, using coolers to bring them to shows because I couldn't afford record bags... Releasing records just takes me back and makes me feel good.

A lot of artists struggle with the mindset and also the people around them: For example, parents want that you get a “save” desk job or whatever, instead of being an artist. Do you struggle with the same issues or do you know some people around you that struggle with that too? Do you have any kind pieces of advice how to deal with that?

I struggle with that all the time. And everyone has different ways of coping with this. All I can tell artists who struggle with it is you're not alone. We all go through it. I don't know one artist who doesn't.

But at the end of the day, it's what we sign up for. High risk, high reward. You want to live a life where you do what you love and are able to make a living that way, work for yourself, travel the world playing your favourite music for crowds of people who love you... You're going to have to roll the dice on the security thing.

If you want to be part of the 1% who make it, you're going to need a spine 99% of people don't have. That applies to any entrepreneurial career, not just artists.

So, we’re already at the end of the interview. Thank you very much! Do you want to add something for aspiring producers out there?

Hope for the best, expect the worst, and appreciate everything that comes in between. Thanks!

Find out more about Paolo Rocco and RawMoments:

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