One dream can spark the dream of others. The story of a music record label for others might seem a bit uninteresting. We always hear inspirational stories from musicians and artistes, but what about the ones who took them in and create a path for their dream? Whether it’s playing on the infotainment whilst we drive, on the radio, or on our phones, music is everywhere. Music can do wonders to many, from bopping their heads to the beat or isolating them in the world of daydreams. It’s like magic. That is why the work of these creators of music and audio is very inspiring to many, whether they are in the music industry or not.
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words.”Victor hugo – French poet, novelist and dramatist of the romantic movement, author of les misérables
The Birth Of A New Record Label
I am no singer or musician but when I hear stories of young artiste’s dream turned into reality, it makes me wish to be as aspiring as they are. I had the opportunity to find out more about a personal growth story from Nicerrr Sound Record Label, a growing record label based in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This record label targets the youngsters for its hip-hop and R&B genre. Kevin Chiam, a young Malaysian, is the man behind this growing label. He labels himself as a creator and innovator, with many ideas to share with others in the music industry. Who would have thought that the days of freestyling and playing on instrumental bins with his friends can develop into something more?
I found it fascinating that when a group of people come together to celebrate common interests, there is this spark of light in them filled with inspiration and a vision. Kevin used to busk with his friends at a shisha store that he used to own. And from those many moments of freestyle and unplugged music, a spark lit up in him. He started to plan his dream with his friends who inspired him and started searching for more undiscovered singers who can help make his dream come true. Then in the year 2020, he established his own record label with the name Nicerrr Sound.
The Young Dream That Sparks It All
A spark might not be the only thing that ignites one’s dream. “When I grow up, I want to be a singer! When I grow up, I want to be a doctor!” The idea of having a dream as a child can be a flame that never dies out. It just keeps on getting bigger and bigger as you grow older and your motivation gets stronger. The strong passion behind it can create amazing things as they go on the journey to accomplish their goals.
Most people think that passion has to be something that you are so talented at, but it’s not necessarily true. What matters is how curious you are to take it further to the next step. Kevin has a strong passion for music where he looks up to top hip-hop artistes such as Drake, Kanye West and Yonnyboii (Malaysian rapper). From a young age, he would write his own songs and rap to their meaningful lyrics. However, he believes that his voice is not good enough, but that doesn’t stop him from establishing his own music record label.
“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”Thomas Foxwell burton (1369 – 1438) , an English politician and mayor of Bayonne, France (1428 -1435)
Behind The Curtain Of The Stage
When we watch movies, it’s always interesting to see the behind-the-scene footages. It’s not easy to create the perfect scene where multiple takes are needed. The same goes for the music you listen to, or the music videos of your favourite singers. Big music labels such as Universal Music Group and Sony Music, have a big production team with modern technology and multiple talented staff. But some small labels don’t have that advantage, and have to rely on their own resources and effort. Kevin Chiam is one of these people who grew his vision independently from scratch, with nothing but himself, his perseverance and the will to learn.
1. Growing A Record Label Independently
To create something from scratch can be challenging especially when you are doing it alone with no experience. Take, for example, baking a cake. If you’re baking a cake without those instant cake-mix at the supermarket, you’re bound to make mistakes on the first try. You know what people say, “practice makes perfect.” And with practice, time and patience, you might even achieve more than what you envisioned. But with all the failures and setbacks that you faced along the journey, it becomes a story for you to see how far you have reached.
I’m easily awed by the stories of individuals making their dreams alive on their own. Kevin’s story is an eye-opener for me. He established Nicerrr Sound from zero, as an in-house production. Everything from demos to promotional music videos are made independently. What caught my interest was learning that Kevin had no experience whatsoever in sound engineering and editing music videos in the first place. YouTube became his guidance to learn about the things that he should know when producing music. It’s inspiring to know how far one can go to achieve their ambitions. Anything is possible if you make it happen, right?
2. A Record Label’s Bond With The Artistes
When a group of people get together to achieve a common goal, the first and foremost thing to form is a strong bond and trust with each other. A record label plays an important role as the “investor” where they recruit artistes whom they see potential in. They have a responsibility to carve a path for the artistes and make sure that all goes well along their journey. So artistes have to be wary before they sign for that record deal. At the same time, the singers are considered as partners of the labels. This means that the labels have to trust the artistes to produce outstanding music that will capture many listeners.
Start small. Kevin currently has four artistes signed under his record label, and he aims to target their music to the Malaysian music market. He came across a few of these artistes and see potential in them through the platform SoundCloud. A well-known online community platform of creators of music and audio, where they can share their music worldwide for streaming. Many artistes in the music industry have launched their careers through this platform. Kevin used it to his advantage to scout around for untapped talents who are unique but very much have a spark. And what I love about their bond is the freedom that the singers have in writing their own songs, and how Kevin is confident in their skills. It makes it very meaningful and personal. So, what’s next?
“I aim to develop the existing artistes first. Nurturing their talents and creating a path for their success.”Kevin chiam, founder of nicerrr media
3. The Challenge Of A Record Label In The Digital Age
Nowadays, music is available at the tips of our fingers. We have access to any music on the World Wide Web. Whether it be vinyl records, cassettes or CDs, the new generation has moved on towards a more digital platform for showcasing artistes. YouTube, Spotify and SoundCloud, they’re all digitised for us consumers. This caused both a challenge and opportunity for artistes and labels. It’s an advantage to our planet where less printing is needed to be done when producing the albums. But it’s a challenge trying to get people to stream the music and actually appreciating it, rather than illegally downloading it without supporting the artistes.
As a child, I remember flipping through my father’s music CD cases of different artistes like Backstreet Boys, and Siti Nurhaliza. I see it as a way of appreciation towards the artistes. However, in this current generation, fewer people are buying physical albums. Streaming becomes the main source for artistes to generate revenue. Kevin stressed that Spotify is one of the platforms that he used to release the albums of his artistes. And from what I’ve read, Spotify generally pays around USD 0.003 – USD .055 per stream (replace with your own currency where relevant). But it really depends on where the music is released and whether the listeners have a membership or not. Now that sounds tough.
What Is Your Dream?
No matter how small the record labels are, there is always a potential for them to grow. Not according to the size or fame, but from how much they, as a family and team, have achieved as they go. I think this relates to not only the music industry but also to our own individual ambitions and dreams. How about you? What is your dream?
Having a dream can motivate you to achieve the impossible. But nothing will happen if you just sit still and wait. You need to hustle and work hard for it! Start planning and start doing whatever you can to get closer to your goals. Don’t mind other people’s achievements and focus on your own journey and progress. All the best everyone!
Do you have a music dream? If you have a passion for hip-hop or R&B music and an ambition to release your own music under a professional record label, do check out Nicerrr Sound. Send them your demo or even stay abreast with any live auditions they might hold in the future! But if you just want to be inspired by stories from other music lovers, Sara Cortez has a story of her own to tell about inspiring others with music. And stay tuned to the next part of Kevin Chiam’s story. We will go deeper into the importance of media in record labels in this current digital age.