A brand new spotlight concept has emerged for WARM. Please welcome “Hot Talks” - a series of customer spotlights, shining a light on our dear users. For this third instalment, we had the pleasure to connect with Owen Kiernan, Head Of Digital at CR2 Records - Since launching, Cr2 has become a house music institution; boasting releases from some of the biggest names in house, techno and EDM including Eric Prydz, Steve Angello and many more. Owen's taking us through his own background coming into CR2, his own role at the company and future predictions for the label. Welcome, Owen.
Hi Owen, lovely to have you with us. First of all, what’s your own background coming into the music industry?
Throughout my 20’s I worked in record shops including a large branch of the chain HMV. When that closed down I joined Cr2, initially as an intern, then as digital assistant before becoming digital manager. After almost 3 years I moved to work at independent distribution company Kudos Records where I headed up digital and physical sales, before returning to Cr2 in 2021 as Head of Digital.
What was it that first made you decide to start at Cr2?
I’d loved the label since it’s early releases - Steve Angello & Eric Prydz’s ‘Woz Not Woz’ was a particular favourite of mine and when the chance came to work at a prestigious label like Cr2 I jumped at it.
What is your role at Cr2?
I’m Head of Digital at the label, which means I’m involved in every aspect of release creation, from commissioning artwork, to ensuring all the metadata is correct and delivering the release to our distributors. From there, I work with the global teams at our distributors and the DSPs themselves to present a full marketing plan for each record and making sure that everyone from club and radio pluggers, to DSP editors and the artists & managers are kept up to date with everything that’s happening across the release. There’s so much data available to labels nowadays it’s important to curate what people need to see and only present what’s relevant.
How do you feel the music industry has changed since you joined Cr2?
The biggest change has been that streaming has become the main way people consume music instead of downloads. That’s been great in most respects as it means older catalogue tracks can be easily discovered by a new audience, but it has meant that the compilation CD market has all but disappeared. There’s no need to spend loads of money licensing tracks now you can just curate playlists, but a lot of the art of curating a great selection of tracks has been lost.
Has the pandemic in any way changed how you’re doing your job today?
Not really, music really helped people get through the lockdown periods but things have more or less returned to normal now.
What are some of the challenges and benefits you are facing as Cr2 these days?
The biggest challenge has to be the sheer volume of releases coming out these days, the barriers to making and releasing music have never been lower, but it does mean we’ve got to work even harder to ensure our records cut through the noise. Every record we release now has a full global marketing plan behind it that we collaborate with our distributors on, and as a result we see significant success across multiple territories. The biggest benefit of this is that we can now have global hit records and work with teams in overseas territories more closely in order to achieve this.
What’s your advice for anyone wanting to build their own record label?
Make sure there’s a really good story behind each release - don’t just put out records for the sake of it. Make sure your label has a really strong visual aesthetic, and most importantly - work with people who are easy to get on with!
And lastly, what does the rest of 2023 look like for the label?
It’s busy! We’re approaching our 20th anniversary in 2024, so lots of preparations for that. We’ve got a few more releases planned from some exciting artists so keep your ears peeled for those.