Label Focus: Xtra Mile Recordings
Xtra Mile’s main goal upon launch was to champion artists in the United Kingdom. The label has since flourished into a dedicated support structure for bands around the world, driving the success of musicians like Frank Turner, Oxygen Thief and Skinny Lister.
Founder Charlie Caplowe took some time to speak with TIDAL about starting the label, translating vision into reality and the necessary qualities to keep a label running.
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How did you get into the music business? What motivated you?
Very fortunately for me, my sister was working at a big record label and was motivated to set up her own PR company many moons ago. She was in need of an assistant, and as someone who had always been a keen music fan, I jumped at the opportunity. I learned the ropes for many years and ended up running the PR company as my sister diversified into being a photographers’ agent.
When one of the bands I handled for PR could not secure a record deal, I decided to take the punt myself and start a label (Xtra Mile Recordings) myself to release their debut album. I had a lot of faith in their abilities.
That band was Million Dead whose singer was Frank Turner, who I have also managed ever since he went solo over ten years ago. My motivation for starting the label was initially to just get an album made for one of my bands so that I could then get more PR for them and help build their career.
Did you have an initial idea of what the label should be and how it could evolve down the road when you started?
I had no idea of what the label should be when I started or even if it had any legs past just one release. I guess it evolved as we signed more and more acts. The way the label has evolved is more of a community/family vibe, with the bands touring together and the bigger ones helping the smaller ones up the ladder by offering advice and support tour opportunities. That works the same for the core of us at the label as well; we may not have the marketing budgets of the majors, but working together with a passion, enthusiasm and working closely with our bands, we at least give ourselves a shot at trying to do good things.
Which, if any, labels were role models or guiding stars when you started up?
When I was growing up, the two indie labels that I loved and would buy music from just because I trusted and loved their taste and ethos were Stiff Records and Two Tone Records. Both classic UK labels, they seemed to offer so much more than just releasing records and ‘shifting units.’
What does Xtra Mile stand for as a label?
Xtra Mile stands for independent sensibilities. For working closely and passionately with our acts and building a community for bands and fans alike in the UK and now further afield, especially in the North America. For hopefully bringing people together through music. As one of our most recent bands, Counterfeit’s, album title points out: Together We Are Stronger.
What has been your greatest achievement as a label?
I don’t think there is any one single achievement for the label, but some that spring to mind are: Frank Turner headlining Wembley Arena whilst still on the very small Xtra Mile label. BBC Radio 1 playing some of our bands. Being able to witness tours in many countries in Europe and North America that solely consist of Xtra Mile bands. Having Top 10 indie album chart releases. Being able to exist as a label in these tough times is sometimes achievement enough!
What do you look for when you sign an artist?
Great songs, greater passion, the desire or at least will to work incredibly hard and to know success is hard-fought and not a given. Team players who want to do this for a long time rather than just as a hobby; that is just time wasted for all of us.
Where do you want the label to be in ten years?
I’d like us to still be growing and signing acts and releasing music that brings pleasure to people across the lands!
How has Xtra Mile navigated the ever-changing music landscape?
We just try to keep at the forefront of the ever-changing landscape, and as a small company, we are able to move with the times and remain relatively nimble. We have good people advising us as to what things we should be doing and concentrating on in terms of how music will be released. I still have faith that there will be a desire and need for great music that will continue in whatever form it gets released out into the world.
How would you describe Xtra Mile without adjectives?
Independent. Passion. Sincerity. Integrity. Honesty. Community. Family.
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