Skrillex’s Label Boss Talks To Students

7 December, 2015

Tom Riley is UK leader for Skrillex’s label, OWSLA Records, and runs Catalyst Artist Management, based in Bristol.

Tom’s music career has seen him carve a niche for himself built around discovering and sharing the music he loves, and he was kind enough to come and discuss his career path and work methods with a full Masterclass at BIMM Bristol

While still a young teenager, Tom encountered a band named Koan Sound who attended the same high school. Tom loved their sound and became the band’s agent. He began to venture into the recording industry world, making somewhat naive trips (his words) to London, wearing, as he humorously described, oversized suits that he thought might impress down in the big city!

Tom’s persistence and belief in the music brought him and the band success, and more artists began to join his roster. Later, Tom discovered the Myspace page of the now world-famous EDM/Dubstep star, Skrillex. He loved the music right away and contacted Skrillex to ask if he had representation in the UK. He didn’t, and Tom became his UK agent. This fortuitous and skilled acquisition on Tom’s part led to his current role as UK leader for OWSLA Records, Skrillex’s label, which also has seven staff members based in Los Angeles.

After discussing this unique career path, Tom got down to explaining the nitty gritty of running a music business, showing the class some real spreadsheets that are used to organise the running of OWLSA and its multiple artists. Tom also showed examples of carefully planned strategies for new releases and revealed the type of information the label gathers for new artists, including online statistics, previous releases, live and DJ experience.

These proved to be new and valuable insights for the students, who were able to see up close the internal workings of a label, which in turn will help to guide them on their own path, either releasing or recording music. Thanks to Tom for giving us these excellent real-world examples and for a fantastic Masterclass.

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