IMS is supporting the next generation of industry innovators and influencers, providing a platform for their ideas to be heard, industry mentoring and support plus opportunities to network and develop their career or business with the most creative and forward thinking figures in the electronic music industry. The IMS x Mixmag Visionaries contest was developed to help the next generation of leaders. We caught up with Luke Hood, founder of UKF to discuss his journey.
In 2009 Luke’s passion for bass led to him setting a little broadcasting service for college colleagues. Thanks to his discerning ears, and ability to recognise acts with true potential, that little broadcasting service turned into the music brand phenomenon that is UKF. Switching shelf-stacking and forensic computing studies for a partnership with AEI within months of its launch, Luke has now developed UKF into a full brand with best-selling albums and events and festival stage hosting around the world. This development continues to this day as Luke directs the brand and applies his expertise and knowhow to AEI’s overall business development, inviting like-minded curators to join the company and helping them amplify their message and develop equally strong futures.
1) You were one of the early pacesetters in the YouTube music video phenomenon, amassing over 1 million subscribers within the first year of your UKF platform launching back in 2010.
Given how saturated the electronic music industry has since become, and how difficult it is to cut through the noise nowadays, what would you say the three most important things a young music professional starting out must do, in order to achieve a sustainable career in the industry?
I think in any creative industry, prescribing do’s/donts is not the way to go when you are wanting to get into the industry. Personally, and we’ve seen this a lot lately, that a majority of the innovation/disruption within the electronic space over the past 10 years has come from individuals or organisations that have not read any books, or learned how the traditional industry operates. It’s that beginner’s mind-set with no limitations based on other’s experiences that has allowed them to be inventive and service an audience that wasn’t previously served. Whether that’s starting a curation channel on YouTube and building a brand off the back of that, then expanding vertically into events, albums, editorial etc (like UKF), to giving away all of your music and allowing others to monetise it across UGC (user generated content) platforms (like NCS). If you studied the industry and its best practises before, these ideas would have seemed insane.
2) You became a Director at AEI back in 2013, and have played an integral role in the company’s subsequent ascension to the forefront of discovering, inspiring and investing in some of electronic music’s most revered talent.
Providing a variety of services from distribution, royalty reporting and A&R to live streams, content management and brand development, AEI continue to work with some of the biggest brands in electronic music.
A lot of your services are now fundamental aspects of day-to-day business for artists, labels and promoters alike, so what advice would you give on where to focus your time, effort and investment, if you’re just starting-out in the industry with limited resources?
Even if it’s a basic understanding, some of the most impressive partners are those that know their way around Photoshop, from basic coding, to social media strategy and marketing. It’s a lot to take in, but having a basic understanding of everything is so important in the early days (and saves a lot of money, and delivers vastly better results). As you grow, it becomes a case of working with experts that specialise in these different fields, staying on top of the latest trends in each individual area so you can focus on the core product.
4) What role do you think music tech can have in creating more opportunities and improving accessibility for people of all genders, ethnicity and disabilities, in order to help balance the industry’s status quo?
I think it’s already had a huge effect and that’s only going to go further. The barrier to entry has come down by such a long way, the number of producers who are starting out at 13/14 using their family laptop to first start producing, or gain an interest in music, has grown rapidly in the past few years. Ultimately you can live in the middle of nowhere and join an online community of whatever particular niche you enjoy and develop that passion further (part of the initial driving force behind UKF was it became one of those online hubs to talk about bass music)
Learn more about both IMS x Mixmag Visionaries & Accelerator here