With the beginning of a new year comes the promise for progression; we need innovation and bright ideas to take us further. The music industry is by far no exception: to evolve, to catalyse opportunities and to inject young talent into the bloodstream is integral to its relevance in our world today.
This is what The Rattle is striving for. Imagine a collective of Grammy-winning musicians, label bosses and household names at your disposal, with the highly coveted know-how and international connections to promote your career and elevate you to the highest musical echelons. For such a revolutionary approach to the business of music, Soundsphere Magazine interviewed Bobby Bloomfield and Chris Howard, the great minds behind it, to see how The Rattle came to be.
We were intrigued as to how the concept of The Rattle was conceived, and how one can convert a passion into a business. “When we first came at this, we wanted to see if we could fund this like a tech-company, so we wanted to attract investors that were enthusiastic about the solution we were trying to build, and seeing if they would be a part of the journey by putting some money in, in exchange for some kind of ownership. Actually, when we started this, it fell flat on its face. When you say the word ‘music’, traditional investors just want to be sick on their feet with disgust. No one makes money in music. So at first, it was really hard for us. But we decided to take a different approach, and we didn’t use the word ‘music’. We decided to market it as a ‘co-working space’ – they love that. We found a way to message the business to be independent from music, whilst still being about art and culture at its core. It was important for us to actually have something to show people, not just an idea. The barrier to credibility is immense, you need more than just a concept for people to trust in you.”
One of the key reasons Soundsphere wanted to collaborate with The Rattle for this feature is because we share the attitude of wanting to help people out, and we want to make a difference in what can be a hostile, unwelcoming industry. So far, The Rattle have raised enough money to create three Rattle Spaces across London, which will be cutting edge studio complexes to accommodate talent to produce music – but what about the north? Providing the prototype succeeds in February 2018 with the first wave of 50 places, then the next intention is to expand into the north, which is often neglected without an established capital of a music scene. The Rattle intends to bring opportunities, where otherwise, there would be none.
We were also keen to know a little more about Bobby and Chris themselves, particularly their working dynamic and how they are well-matched as business partners in this enterprise. “We have quite contrasting but compatible styles,” Bobby told us, “I am a typically neurotic artist, whereas Chris is very much the optimistic entrepreneur. But we’re both nuts about music, we’re nuts about helping artists earn a living doing what they love. Initially we came from completely different angles, but we could both see the music industry had gone wrong. The most interesting thing about our relationship is when we fall out, and though it’s horrible, the things we fall out about are the things our community are going to struggle with. For example, we want our artists to pick up entrepreneurial practise, but the language and techniques around that are what a lot of them find soul destroying. Unfortunately, the dreamy, exploratory side to being an artist isn’t compatible with what your survival in the industry demands, and that can be a difficult thing for people to come to terms with.” Chris added, “When we both put our cards on the table about what we care about, I said I want to invest in an artist like I would invest in a tech company. Why isn’t that the case? And then Bobby came out with, “I don’t want Red Hot Chilli Peppers headlining Reading Festival ever again. I want the music culture. I want kids to go to festivals and see a band that is new, and not the same age as their grandparents. It shouldn’t be the case that you have to be so firmly established just to secure the top bill.” And so we spent the first five or six months arguing about which one was more important. It took us a long while to realise that they are the same goal – they’re exactly the same goal. They’re outcomes of creating a new music culture that puts the artist in the centre and allows tech to be the enabler for this entirely new approach.”
What The Rattle is devoted to achieving isn’t unheard of. The consensus, if you ask anyone involved with music, is that the current model the industry follows is obsolete and outdated: record labels are no longer inherent to success. “For lots of people doing this, this is a cultural change that we’re trying to foster. There can’t just be one player that does this. We all need to work together to create the new norm.”
Being rooted in the north, we asked the two co-founders a little more about their intentions to expand into the likes of Hull, Sheffield and Manchester, and the apparent north-south divide when it comes to both affluence and opportunities. “We want to be where the talent is, and talent isn’t geographically exclusive to the south. We want to go to cities where there is life and where there is a scene. We’re not following the money. The only reason we are starting in London is because we live there, but we are by no means a London company at all, and we have no intention to stay there.”
But what we were most eager to glean from Chris and Bobby was what advice they would give to an artist or a creative, particularly coming from a less affluent background, concerning how they would go about building a music career and network for themselves. “We’re actually running into this fully aware of how complicated the music industry is right now. We don’t have the answers. But what we do have is an amazing community of mentors, artists and technics. Don’t rush. When you do release a single, an EP or an album, make it fucking great: hone your talent and allow yourself to develop. Take your time. Then work on exposing your music to the right audience – the internet is on your side, it is the greatest equaliser. Also, realise that you yourself are a brand. Partner yourself with your music and create an image that an audience will want to invest in.”
If we have piqued your interest with The Rattle and want to discover a little more, then visit https://www.therattle.space/ to get involved. Be the pioneer that will revolutionise our culture.
Interview: Dom Smith | Words: Sophie Walker