Member Spotlight – Meet Borja, the record label owner
A speaker made out of a shoebox sounds like an odd starting point for a business. But a 12-year-old Borja Regueira Vilar built just that in the mid-noughties, and it ignited a spark.
“I got really interested in recording music from there and by 16 I’d made my first recording studio. It was really simple but I was recording there every week,” he recalled.
We tried to make a label in a different way, by giving more royalties and more rights to the artists.
Fast-forward 10 years and Borja is at the helm of his own record label. And at Manchester-based Sour Grapes Records things are done a little differently. “The contracts big labels offer bands are usually really strict, especially if you’re starting out,” said Borja. “So we tried to make a label in a different way, by giving more royalties and more rights to the artists.” In fact the label doesn’t profit from the artists directly. Instead they only make money on gigs and the merchandise they produce in-house. It’s a refreshing approach, and one that has already captured the attention of musicians across the country.
Not that Borja and his co-founder Alex Tadros are in a rush to fill up their books with a huge roster of artists. Instead they have found themselves a musical niche, focusing on signing up blues and psychedelic rock bands. And even more important is finding like-minded people to join the Sour Grapes family. “It’s about people who want to improve and who actually want to work in music full-time, not just as a hobby or a bit of fun…that’s so important.”
In return, they promise transparency and flexibility. Contracts are drawn up collaboratively and they are on hand to help at every step of the creative process. “Sometimes the band needs promotion. Sometimes they need to record a new album or just to come here to do a rehearsal,” said Borja. “We’ll do whatever we can to support them.”
He is also focussed on improving his own skills, juggling label responsibilities with studying sound engineering. And, while Borja relishes the creative side of his new venture, he admits being an entrepreneur is no easy option. “There’s a lot of work to do, from the minute you wake up you’re checking your email and resolving issues,” he said. “You have to constantly be focused because you don’t want this to end.”
Thanks to growing interest in the label, it’s unlikely Borja will have to worry about that anytime soon. Instead, looking for funding is next on the to-do list. But again, that will be about finding the right fit for Sour Grapes. Their main focus remains nurturing the foundations they have laid. “We want some kind of family relationship with our artists,” said Borja. The more success they have, the more demanding the business becomes. Time is precious. “We loved Tide because we had another business bank account, but it was hard to use… I just downloaded Tide, took some pictures of my ID, and I thought oh really, I have account number now?”
Our size means we can really fight for artists, and that’s a huge advantage.
For now Borja and Alex are enjoying being a small fish in the big music industry pond. “Our size means we can really fight for artists, and that’s a huge advantage.” He continued; “The music remains our biggest motivation and as long as it continues to be who knows what the future holds.”