Well, the Song, by Toad blog has become a focal point for the DIY music scene in Edinburgh, with album reviews, gig listings, podcasts, video sessions and plenty of, erm, robust debate in the comments section.  I have an audience, and I get a lot of correspondence from unsigned bands.  It made sense to bring the two together.


Song, by Toad Records has no ambition to have a major international star on our books.  The goal we’re focussed on is to support the more eclectic and less commercial side of the music scene.  We’d rather act as something of a nursery, and let bands move on should they get to the stage where that makes sense.

We’ll be releasing short runs of 300-500 handmade copies, all made in our house by us and the bands, painted, folded, screen printed or whatever it ends up being.  Any band who plays regularly will be able to sell 3-500 of pretty much anything, especially when you include the Song, by Toad international audience, and the community we’re a part of within the blogosphere.  That way every project, however small, will be designed to break even, so we can support the smaller acts without losing money doing it.  And if we think anyone has more widespread commercial potential then we can scale up the operation accordingly, but the grassroots fans will still have something special and handmade.

Label 2.0

The most important thing about Song, by Toad is that we really aren’t a record label, as such.  We are ‘also’ a record label.  But I will still work my arse off to support local labels and bands not on the label itself, getting them on the sessions, writing about their work, putting them on the bill at Toad Nights and so on.  The site itself is a community and the goal of this project is not so much to sell records, as to create an environment where music thrives, whether it’s ours or someone else’s, with confidence that the music will sell almost as a side-effect.

I’ll be using our contacts, our experience and our audience to help people with self releases, and also to support other fledgling labels in the area, of which there are a few.  We’ll also be collaborating with DIY labels in places like Portland, Oregon and Fife and pretty much anywhere, which is one of the odd paradoxes of the internet: it seems to be able to strengthen small local communities almost because it allows them to include people from the other side of the world.


I don’t mean to sound all altruistic.  A lot of what we are doing is altruistic in many ways, but I think that in the world of music obsessives, which is largely our core audience, this kind of integrity is crucial.  People involved in grass-roots arts movements can smell insincerity – I can myself, and I bloody hate it.  I genuinely think we have a far better chance of creating something lasting, successful, and something which people care about if we approach it in as honest and generous a way as possible.  So there is some sort of sensible business thinking behind the fluffy arty stuff – it is a proper strategy.  But this is also something I do alongside a full-time job.  It’s exhausting, but immensely rewarding, and to remain something that is rewarding and something to which I can commit this much time and energy, I have to do things in an idealistic way.  There’s just no point otherwise.

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