Geoff Travis applies his Independent Past to his Folk Future - Noise11.com
Lisa O'Neill

River Lea artist Lisa O'Neill

Geoff Travis applies his Independent Past to his Folk Future

by Paul Cashmere on April 9, 2019

in News,Noise Pro

Rough Trade Records founder Geoff Travis has started a new label River Lea. The label is all about targeting people who prefer quality over quantity and would rather than listen to a physical disc than stream.

“I imagine about 70% of our sales are from people buying vinyl and CDs at the shows,” Geoff tells Noise11.com. “After the gigs when it’s a good show people line-up at the merch desk and they like to take home a record. I think that’s how folk acts survive. We are on the streaming services and there are some playlists.”

River Lea is all about monetising music away from the normal sales model. For example, synch deals are a high priority. “I’m hoping we will get some Hollywood soundtracks. Folk music does have its niche in the world,” Geoff says.

River Lea is a small operation.” It’s just the three of us,” he says. “We are outside the normal system so we don’t have the support structure except for Beggars Banquet. We plug into them for legal, accounting and synch”.

Geoff is working a whole new business model now with River Lea compared to his first label Rough Trade in the 70s. “When we put out our first record, the Stiff Little Fingers album, there was already an audience that was interested so we sold a lot of records very quickly,” he says. “It is much harder with this music because its much more spread out and the audience is smaller. It is much harder now than it was then. Some people stay within their tribes, others are interested in everything. It’s a matter of whether we can expand and get people to try new records by other artists of equal quality. That’s the key”.

Rough Trade also built a music community of followers that would investigate the catalogue because of the label. Digital delivery makes it harder for labels to form communities. “Growing up I was influenced by Island Records and the fact they had Fairport Convention and John Martyn on the roster as well as Roxy Music, Free and Spooky Tooth all on the one label. It meant you opened your mind. It doesn’t seem to be so mixed these days. It’s a battle. The streaming services don’t really tell you what the label is. You have to search for it and that annoys me. The idea that it was on Island or Elektra or Def Jam then you knew it had a certain quality and you checked it out. That has been erased by Spotify and Apple and everything. That’s a kind of not so special undercutting. It makes it harder but it’s a battle we are fighting. I am sceptical about how much weight a label carries in this day and age”.

Geoff is also mindful of the industry dumbing down audio quality. “I don’t listen to music on earbuds,” he says. “People who love music like sound. Teenagers are into half fidelity. Yes, we used to listen to music on our radios. I don’t worry about that too much. People listen to things in different ways and we accept a wide range of sound. There is definitely an erasure of the quality of the signal”.

One of his more recent finds was The Decemberists. “It took us a while to discover what a good songwriter Colin Meloy was in The Decemberists. I saw them at SXSW and they blew me away. You don’t always get it the first time but sometimes you do”.

The first River Lea signing is Lisa O’Neill. “She is rare. If I could find other people up to the standard of Lisa I would be happy. It is not something that would go to a major. But Bob Dylan was signed by a major because of John Hammond and he would have been dropped by a major if it wasn’t for John Hammond. You never know how people are going to develop. Lisa is a major songwriter and I think she’s got a big future”.

Follow River Lea Records on Twitter

Follow Noise11 on Twitter for news as it happens

For news as it happens follow Noise11 on Facebook

Noise11.com

Listen to the Noise11 Music News channel now at iHeartRadio

Comments

comments

Related Posts

Busby Marou The Great Divide
Busby Marou’s Tom Busby Now Has More Albums Than Kids

As Busby Marou prepare for the release of their fourth album ‘The Great Divide’ it has not gone unnoticed to Tom Busby that he now has one more album than he has children.

3 days ago
Bon Iver
Bon Iver ‘s Justin Vernon Regrets His Eminem Post

Bon Iver star Justin Vernon regrets being so public in his criticism of a controversial Eminem track he featured on.

August 22, 2019
Paul Kelly has a chunk of albums and a chunk of dates

In 1997 Paul Kelly released his first compilation ‘Songs from the South’. A second volume was released in 2008. Now 11 years later, the collection is getting another upgrade.

August 15, 2019
John Waters photo by Ros O'Gorman
John Waters to interpret Bob Dylan “for the ambivalent”

With John Waters goes out to perform the songs of Bob Dylan for the Dylan Revisited tour he wants the audience to known (almost) every song.

August 9, 2019
Gerry Beckley, America, Melbourne 2015. Photo by Ros O'Gorman
America Co-Founder Gerry Beckley Releases New Music

America co-founder Gerry Buckley has released new solo music. ‘Home Again’ is the first taste of Gerry’s album ‘Five Mile Road’ due in September.

July 27, 2019
Angus Stone Dope Lemon
Dope Lemon Sell-Out Sydney and Brisbane Gigs After Number Two Album Debut

Angus Stone’s Dope Lemon has sell-out shows in Sydney and Brisbane as well as Auckland after the number two debut of ‘Smooth Big Cat’ on the weekend.

July 24, 2019
David Crosby, A Day On The Green, Ros O'Gorman, Photo
David Crosby Performs Long Time Gone for Jimmy Fallon

David Crosby is doing the promo rounds in the USA and this week dropped by the Jimmy Fallon show to talk up his new biopic and perform his CSN classic ‘Long Time Gone’.

July 23, 2019