The Importance of Community
It is no surprise that mentorship is at the heart of Beached Records’ offering. Both co-owners have developed their own skill and knowledge within the vibrant experimental scene of Preston. As students at UCLan, Jonathan and Alanis had a lot of opportunity to engage with musicians like themselves, both inside and outside of the university.
When asked what made the Preston scene so special, both business owners rushed to mention their courses. According to the pair, unlike other music degrees throughout the country, UCLan emphasises drawing out each students’ unique talent; which draws a certain calibre of music students. Rather than focusing on a written method, the courses here emphasise creativity and pull together a community of like-minded individuals.
This isn’t an exclusive club, either. Both students and lecturers alike are deeply embedded in the local music scene, engaging people with no university affiliation at all. The most evident example of this is probably organised ‘Something for Everyone’ activities such as the Jigsaw Improv Sessions. Many events run by the school are open to the public and focus on the ‘avant-garde’ and ‘future sound’. By encouraging this cross-pollination between the local community and the university, a tight-knit, experimental and accepting scene has arisen.
“Beached Records is about connecting artists and forming an active community of creators. The Propeller Enterprise Award allows us to be an open door for artists and their development, and just as importantly, to give back to the community as it evolves.” – Alanis
Launching the Label
Jonathan and Alanis approached Propeller in February 2020, originally looking for general advice. As they already had a business plan in progress, their mentor suggested they apply for the Propeller Enterprise Award as the funding would allow for the pair to take control of cassette production for the launch event in May. This was, of course, when the final panel was due to take place in March.
Despite the panel being postponed, the couple went ahead with their May launch. To do this, they outsourced production of the cassettes to another company. Although this made the cost of production much higher, test-trading for the past few months has proved a beneficial experience for Jonathan and Alanis. When asked, they said it really helped to inform them about where to spend money to attract their target audience.
In the 2.5 months of trading, they’ve grown from 30 active listeners to over 800; quite a staggering feat for a low-key launch. For context, if they continue at this rate, they’ll grow their audience to 4,000 listeners within their first year.
Despite the quick growth in listeners, there weren’t many digital sales. According to Jonathan, this was to be expected, as the experimental music scene longs for something more tangible. Swapping cassette tapes is part of the community culture, which is why they are such an important part of Beached Records’ business model.