It seemed a shame to have so much material around the place not going anywhere. I’d been making recordings forever and, outside of the ones done for commercial ends, most of them lay in state.
Could start a label. Time was when that was a soul-destroyer. It still wasn't a walk in the park given the to-dos. The compositions, the arrangements, the productions, the musicians, the studio sessions might all be challenge enough. Add financing, presentation and promotion to the mix, the treacherous tech to face down, the things that mess with the art, and it could be an uphill experience, especially to someone whose technical and business skills were minimal. Could start a label, well maybe not.
And yet, there were opportune factors...
In the autumn of 2007, after a long period doing speculative projects, I'd opened up my studio to all-comers again and not for the first time in a thirty-year career was immersed in talent. Inevitably new relationships formed leading to new music being made. Most of the makers were, like me, artists who operated off the grid, free agents not party to any record deal or sponsorship. Before long even more music was being added to the complement.
As well as the fresh talent-crop there was also new DIY technology to consider, specifically online distribution now available to everyone. Previously, making your work public had been for the privileged few, the ones who had woken up on the right side of a major label’s bed. Now we could all be at the party. Well, at least we could be less invisible, more discoverable. And not by the “biz” necessarily. Just by anyone interested enough to type a name into a search box.
So, might be worth a shot.
What kind of label? The material in the pool, new and old, crossed the board and much of it felt prime, incorporating works of pop, rock, jazz, celtic, country, acoustic, electronic, freeform and ambient. So that was an easy question to answer. It would be a multi-genre affair, a truly eclectic vehicle, a genuine reflection of my years spent as a writer/producer working with music of every character and kind.
With that, Legacy Scotland kicked off in April 2010. For the first couple of years a track a week went up on the website with a completed EP by each month-end. Album releases followed including some older indie band compilations from the 1980s. There was also a private collection of live recordings of Robert Burns's poetry alongside a suite of freeform pieces.
There were no illusions about commercial viability. Music labels are by nature long-shot affairs so this would be little more than a personal imprint. But the result was rich in lateral value - i.e. in relationship value and most importantly in art value. Which was fine as that was why the better part of us took to music-making in the first place. Online outlets at least meant that somebody somewhere in the world might hear our work most days, work that would historically have been banished to the storage bin. For that I was grateful.
I was also grateful to a host of others for their input: to the clever advisers who tolerated my bleating when the website wouldn’t play ball; to the designer who came up with the logo; and not least to the many artists and musicians who graciously gave of their talent and time, almost always for no money. Thanks all.