James Willamor is the Founder and CEO of Croquet Records. Croquet Records is a nonprofit artist incubator and independent record label with the mission of promoting and developing emerging North Carolina bands and musicians.
Table of Contents
5:00 – If you had to describe yourself as a band, song, or genre, what would it be?
6:40 – Tell us more about Croquet Records.
22:10 – How can artists sign-up for Croquet Records?
24:00 – Three things artists should be doing today to grow their fan-base and move their careers forward
If you had to describe yourself as a band, song, or genre, what would it be?
I would describe myself as a singer/songwriter. I don’t know if that’s really a genre, but it kinda fits in with Folk and Americana. But also it can be more country influenced, because there is a lot of creativity there. If you go to the open mics, you see a lot of singer/songwriters that are writing new songs every week. That is one of the things that inspired me, going to open mics and seeing incredibly talented people and thinking: “These songs need to be recorded and shared.”
Tell us more about Croquet Records.
A little bit of background, this summer we formed a board of directors, we passed our by-laws, and did all the paperwork to become a nonprofit. I think it shows how much we are committed to this. It takes a lot of work to become a nonprofit. We just got approved this past December, and now going forward we’re getting ready for our first project.
Croquet Records is a nonprofit record label and band incubator. There are a lot of great arts organizations out there for young musicians. Here in North Carolina, there is School of Rock, Girls Rock, and for middle-schoolers or teenagers they are awesome.
But what happens next? You get into college, and you’re playing open mics and you’ve got these songs and you really want to do something with them. At that point, it can be hard to figure out how to do that.
Not only do we want to help artists and bands do that, we want to show them each step of the process. That way, they’ll be ready to graduate from us up to a larger record label.
How can artists sign-up for Croquet Records?
When we were getting started, not that many people knew about us, so I’ve been going every week to open mics and seeing who is impressing audiences with both the quality of their music and the content of their songs.
After that, I talk with them to see what their goals are. We want to look at their musical goals and help them reach those goals. And then we go from there.
Three things artists should be doing today to grow their fan-base and move their careers forward:
Tour the right way. Some people recommend not touring, others say go ahead and do because it’s a good experience. But I think there is a right way to tour. One of the key points is making sure that you are playing with someone local and has a local draw. Additionally, bands need to leverage local media contacts. Go to Wikipedia and search “college radio stations,” and you will find over 300 across the US and Canada, and they are always looking to interview touring acts.
Artists should network outside of their home city. Before setting up a tour, artists may consider doing a show exchange with another artist in a neighboring city. In North Carolina, that may mean going from Raleigh to Wilmington, or Asheville to Charlotte and vice versa.
Pay attention to public relations and help other bands when you can. For example, if you play in a punk band, you may not network w/ a local folk band. A lot of times, you will both be playing the same venue on different nights. So it’s important to be a part of your local music community in case they need something, or you need something.
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