Thumbhole Records are gearing up for the release of the second volume of their Tracks You May Have Missed compilation on December 11! The record has 30 artists spanning a range of genres and representation from all over the world, showcasing some of the most exciting, emerging talent! We had a chat with founder Dan Allman about the compilation and tips for budding artists.
You’re set to release the second volume of Tracks You Might Have Missed. How did the overall idea come about?
Well I was brought up with the joys of the Punk-o-rama compilations and always loved them. I’d always be excited when a new one came out and get to check out all the new music. I recently found myself really struggling to find one decent place to find new music. All the ‘new and upcoming’ playlists in Spotify seemed to be talking about the same bands that weren’t so much ‘upcoming’ but more ‘had already come’. (haha)
So I decided to see if some of the more unknown bands I knew would be interested in putting a compilation together to showcase all their music. That was actually back in 2012 when we put out the first Punkalicious compilation. And it went down so well that we carried on doing it! Since then we’ve brought out 8 compilations of new bands and tracks… and Tracks You Might Have Missed v2 is going to be Number 9! All in all I think that makes something like 172 bands we’ve worked with now?
There are 30 different artists on the compilation, it was mentioned that you narrowed it down from over 500! How did you manage to narrow them down, particularly with the range of genres that are featured?
It was a toughie! We genuinely did listen to all 500 too… not always in their full of course. With all things like this we did have a few rap/rnb artist submissions that clearly hadn’t read the description before submitting!
We cut the whole list down to a list of Nopes, Not Quites, Maybes and OH BABYs first. Normally this works pretty well, you have about a dozen OH BABYs and you fill it in with Maybes to get a decent compilation together. But with the last TYMHM and this one, the quality of bands was so good we ended up with nearly 100 OH BABYs! This means then trimming it down not based on awesomeness, but on which bands would work and gel well together on a compilation. We don’t want to just bring out a pop-punk compilation. That’s boring. We want a compilation that if you like pop-punk there’s something you know you’ll like, but maybe something else you didn’t know you’d like until you heard it. And maybe some stuff you don’t… probably! But hey, it’s a compilation of bands from around the world you probably wouldn’t have heard otherwise! Of course there’ll be a bit of gristle in your compilation steak!
What do you as Thumbhole Records look for in an artist or band?
Obviously our first impressions are from our submission form. This is usually 10 questions like ‘band name’, ‘track name’ and some social links. Social is SO important these days, and we want to make sure the bands we work with are actively trying to promote themselves and not just after a free ride. The whole point of the compilation is if all the bands promote the compilation properly, then they cross-pollinate their fan bases with new music! It’s like one of those dodgy pyramid schemes you’re meant to avoid… but it’s music so it’s fine!
So yes, a first impression of filling in the form properly and having a social presence is big. We don’t mean we only take on bands with 1000s of followers, that’s not the point. But we want the bands to have some kind of online presence!
Next step is obviously listening to the tracks. We tend to filter out any that sound like the recording quality is too low – we’d love to showcase these bands more, but the reality is not many people want to play low quality tracks these days. The track needs to sound original (not just like every other band) and (cringe) we do look for a bit of x factor. If I listen to a track and I’m humming it the next day, then it’s on the compilation!
Professional attitude + Good songwriting + Good production quality. That’s our dream triangle of Thumbhole goodness.
With the ease of creating and getting the music out there, we have seen an influx of DIY bands, what advice would you give up-coming DIY bands who are looking to get signed or just to get their music out to people and not lost in the never-ending influx?
The scene is tough, and there are people who’ll take advantage of that. We’ve heard a lot recently about event companies/unsigned band competitions that force bands into spending money where they shouldn’t, and nothing comes of it.
Bands need to be smart about who they team up with. Look for companies who seem to be genuinely passionate rather than just posting BUY NOW BUY NOW BUY NOW posts all over their social pages all the time. They’re normally the ones run by people who have been in a similar situation to you and only want to see you succeed! Plus, get familiar with one of those companies, and 99% of the time they can then pass you on to trusted promoters/labels/radio shows that will actually help you out.
I suppose there’s a fair bit of making sure you massage the relationship too. If we work with a band who sends in their track, then we never hear from them again, chances are however good they were, we won’t want to work with them again and won’t be in touch when a decent offer comes up. These smaller companies like ours are run by passionate people that want to scratch your backs if you scratch theirs a bit too!
Just be careful with your music and your money. Spend it wisely and in the right places, or sometimes donate a track to an awesome compilation that wants to help you to succeed!
We also spoke to Dave (lead vocals/guitar) from All Tied Up, the Milton Keynes nu-wave pop punks whose track So Enthusiastic features on the compilation.