Pool Valley Music is a student-led, not-for-profit record label striving to give exposure to rising artists. Based in Brighton, the record label focuses on the growth of promising artists in the area and within the ever-expanding music industry.
Aiming to bring you fresh, new music and acts whilst prioritising diversity and inclusivity, all with a sustainable approach to recording and producing music. Pool Valley also offers management services for song development, music production, creative marketing, and distribution.
Pool Valley is run by friends and current BIMM students, Angelika Juszczynska and Isabelle Elers. After meeting in class in their first year, they soon realised that their aspirations aligned. By December 2019 the pair had set-up an artist and event management company, named Velvet Thumb. The brand saw some success with a variety of club nights and management success with fellow BIMM student, Matilda Bond.
Flash forward, the pair are now working with over ten artists and manage twenty-four staff members across the label. Angelika and Isabelle’s vision of cementing Pool Valley Music as an important and recognisable asset in the Brighton music landscape becoming more realised by the day. Having studied Events Management and Music Business at BIMM, the pair have formed a perfectly balanced team for running the record label. Establishing not only a professional but a personal relationship has allowed them to form a bond and a trust in each other’s creative decisions which have elevated the campaigns they produce.
Catching up with Angelika and Isabelle
What do you both do within your roles?
Angelika Juszczynska: Pretty much everything related to running a record label and releasing music, for example; assigning tasks to the individual team members, checking up on our releasing teams and brainstorming with them, communicating with the artists, label accounting, distributing and overseeing our social media and branding activities.
Isabelle Elers: We’ve found a pace that works really well for us, dividing all different aspects like Jelly (Angelika) is saying. We both do pretty much the same things but have found some tasks easier for one of us to be more on-top off, for example, Jelly is checking up more on the release teams whilst I think more about branding opportunities. I’m also planning a live stream for our whole roster, which will be broadcasted in April.
What’s the process that you go through when deciding you want to work with an artist?
A: First and foremost, I need to generally vibe with their music. I also need to see that they are very passionate about their own brand and will be as involved in the campaign as the record label will be. They need to show me that they understand their artistic persona and will stay consistent and motivated. We’re looking for people who want to stay in the business for a long time rather than student projects.
I: The most important thing for me is that they are certain about their vision rather than us having to push the artist into any directions. I want to see ideas and goals when they come to us, as well as liking the songs.
What are you working on at the moment?
I: Right now most of my time is going towards the live stream for our roster, it’s around 8 bands being pre-recorded later in March at a venue in Brighton. We’ve also been working on some future releases, which has been very exciting. Since starting the role we’ve put a lot of focus on the overall branding which is still in the works and some new cool stuff will probably come in the forthcoming future.
A: Until the end of 2020 we mostly focused on our social media activities, implementing a new label management software – AMPsuite, hiring new staff, and A&Ring new artists. Right now we are fully focusing on our up-and-coming campaigns from Paris in May, AtticOmatic, Matilda Bond, and more. As the lockdown restrictions are easing out we can get more activities going. We are really excited to start releasing more music!
What has running Pool Valley Music taught you about the music industry?
A: Working with a record label has definitely opened my eyes to the value of music in the digital world. The amount of work and resources we put into each campaign does not in any way reflect in the monthly statements coming from the streaming platforms. It made me realise how hard it is to be a debuting artist these days! It’s great to see that there is a debate about this matter in the parliament, proposed changes could really help our artists.
I: Coming from a background studying event management more than music business-related topics, I’ve learned a lot during these past months. For example, how to submit music through AMPsuite as we’re doing our submissions alone this year and getting more familiar with the whole process of releasing tracks. As Jelly says I’ve also had a realisation from an emerging artist point of view on how hard it is to actually get your music across. That has made me very passionate about working with or finding new talent around the world.
How has BIMM Institute prepared you for this role?
A & I: As a start, the curriculum at BIMM is very directly targeting the reality of the music industry, and is setting a foundation for people starting out. Additionally, when we decided to create our start-up, we received a lot of support and advice from our tutors through tutorials. Lastly, the careers team has helped us in the application process for the internships with external companies which taught us the skills we are now implementing at Pool Valley Music.
Do you have any advice or tips for current students?
A: Don’t waste any second of your time at BIMM. Get to know your classmates, use all of the resources available, and don’t be scared to ask for help. BIMM staff are always there to assist you on anything, sometimes you just have to reach out! Every opportunity could benefit you in one way or another. The more trial and error you go through during your time at BIMM the more experienced and focused you will be when you graduate.
I: A tip I got at the beginning of my studies was don’t focus all your time on networking up, focus on the people you’re surrounded by, together you will create opportunities which will be more important in the end. If you have any ideas or aspirations just go for them, nothing is impossible.