Marieke | From philosophy student to record label owner
By Tom Elffers
I grew up between London, The Hague, and Glasgow. I studied philosophy in Amsterdam, taking extracurricular courses in astrophysics, neuroscience, geology and religion studies. I rekindled my interest in spirituality during an astronomy lecture, when the science failed to answer ‘big’ questions related to the implications of concepts like time and infinity. It brought me back to the core of things - now I’m combining my interest in natural science and philosophy through a research master in Utrecht.
My other big love, however, is music.
I have done a variety of side jobs, but eventually decided to do something interesting and useful for my potential future career aspirations. I wrote a letter to a musician and industry professional that I admired, which eventually lead to a management job at his record company.
5 THINGS ABOUT
VISIONARY | INCOMPARABLY VERSATILE | 22 YEARS OLD | CONSCIOUSNESS | MUSIC
LEAP OF FAITH
Music has always been a passion of mine. I dreamed about starting something in this field that would go hand in hand with creativity, or if business related, an idealistic motivation striving to add value to the current music industry.
I had just moved back from living in Glasgow for a while, which really inspired me. The music scene there is great. Also, being in a different place geographically gives you a fresh perspective on things and allows for some space in your head for the seeds of ideas to grow. I was finishing my bachelor degree, was surrounded by loving and supportive people and it felt like the right moment to undertake something.
Quite spontaneously I decided to register my record label at the Chamber of Commerce: Mink Records. I didn’t think about it too much and realised whilst cycling back home that I just had become a company owner, in my mind and on paper now.
Mink Records is a record label and in a broader sense a music platform. We are based in Amsterdam, The Hague and Glasgow and release music that is genuine, unapologetic about artistry and unafraid of being slightly alternative. I started Mink because I felt there was a need for new and more independent platforms – e.g. labels, radio, tv, magazines, blogs etc. - covering music in The Netherlands.
In my opinion there could me more variety in these platforms and their sounds. The lack of these unfortunately sometimes results in artists making music more suited to the existing platforms. Genres like Jazz, Blues or Folk have a harder time getting airplay and media coverage in the Netherlands than they do in the UK. The issue is not the artists, it’s the platforms.
We scout artists and record and release their music both physically (e.g. vinyl and CD) and through online streaming platforms. We do all things record labels do for their artists but are also very involved in the creative processes of our artists.
You need a lot of time to set up the whole infrastructure supporting your company, e.g. legal, finances, a web shop. For me it was important to have that all sorted before undertaking anything. I found myself a good lawyer and accountant, but it definitely took a while before I surrounded myself with trustworthy professionals that are on the same page as me. Looking back this took about a year.
When investors started approaching me I realised I had to dive into the business side of my company. I attended a start-up business course and spoke to different investors about various investment constructions. I reached an agreement with the investor I felt most comfortable with. Although it all got more serious and professional at that stage, I was finally able to realise my ideas!
I teach mathematics to kids and work at another record label to get by. I am not earning from Mink at the moment. I don’t expect it to be my main source of income for the next five years. I am investing my energy and love what I am doing. The hours add up to a full time job, which is challenging at times as I’m studying a research master as well. As long as I enjoy doing it, I don’t worry too much about the financial side of it. I knew making money in the music industry is tough so I don’t expect to get. I just want to continue doing what I love.
THE TOUGH TIMES
You really need to believe in your idea, your way of working and the people you work with. The most important thing to me is trustworthiness. I learned that the hard way.
There are quite a few generalisations and misconceptions in regards to the music industry. Some people think there is a constant focus on the money and others deem labels unnecessary in a digital world. Overhearing this can be quite frustrating at time when you are not getting paid and work hard.
In order to stay energised I have to stay inspired. Due to my busy schedule and the amount of hours I work it’s sometimes hard to make time for personal interests that spark my own creativity. Outsourcing aspects of the back office helps free up time. Luckily we just hired an intern at Mink!
5 INSIDER TIPS
Surround yourself with people that energise you. Disregard everyone that is not supportive.
Believe in yourself. Be willing to go against the general accepted view. You might be looking ahead of other people. If you are wrong, at least you tried.
I learned that marketing, legal and finance stuff becomes interesting, applying it to something you feel passionate about.
I like music so I focus on music. If you really like shoes go and make shoes. Find out what appeals to you and try to make a better version out of it.
hen you are working, be there with your full attention and energy. If you are not ‘there’ fully, there’s no point in being there at all.