Duncan At Work
You started the year with some epic plans including the 2nd year of Anjunadeep Explorations and the Acoustic Tour – sadly cancelled/postponed now due to the pandemic. How did you and the team balance recouping some of the costs vs managing fans’ expectations? Communicating the bad news of cancellations must have been tough.
It was. I think the most difficult part of that process was being stuck in the middle of so many competing priorities. As a label brand, we partner with promoters to bring events to life. We take varying degrees of risk: some, we’re equal partners in the property. On some shows, we’re simply taking a fee. A customer may not understand that, they see the artist name and expect a refund. The reality is that some of our partners were on the verge of total insolvency.
Fortunately, at least in our case, for every fan who was upset, another two fans kept their booking for a rescheduled date. I can’t stress enough how important that has been for our industry. If you can afford to keep your bookings, I recommend doing so. Same goes for restaurants and travel bookings!
Can you explain to us how you decided to create such a special virtual event for ABGT400? The whole experience was so special (especially the boat sailing under Tower Bridge & Tony recording all of it!) even though fans couldn’t attend.
The celebration on the boat was one of about 40 ideas we had floating around (pun intended). We settled on the boat because we’ve done some very memorable livestreams from boats in the past, and we knew that having a constantly changing environment for our camera crew would elevate the whole piece – it’s hard to keep a stationary outdoor livestream setup feeling fresh for several hours.
It also gave us a degree of flexibility around weather. The boat, unsurprisingly, had minimal bookings for the month of September.
The shoot was a military operation with drones, speed boats and a huge amount of cameras. Credit to my colleagues Annie and Gareth for pulling it together. Was a real buzz going through London Bridge while OceanLab’s ‘Sirens Of The Sea’ was playing.
What key decisions did you make in your career to get you where you are today?
At university, I thought that journalism was going to be my thing. I was discouraged after completing internships with two major media outlets in my hometown of Melbourne. These were not my people!
With graduation looming, I started applying for internships and volunteer roles at places where I could pursue what I love: music. I got involved in community radio, music blogging and DJing. The pieces started to come together.
If you’re unsure about your direction in life, go find your people.
What’s the best part of your job?
I get to make amazing things in amazing places with my best friends.
How does Anjuna’s approach to marketing differ from other record labels?
The community is at the centre of everything we do. I think a lot of other labels pay lip service to their community. We’re deeply embedded within it. We listen and watch our community closely. Even if we’re not engaging with the conversation, we’re watching it unfold. Similarly, we try to put a human face (or voice) to our marketing. By humanising our content, fans feel like they’re getting a personal recommendation instead of a sales pitch.
The connection between our artists, fans and staff is our superpower. It’s what has kept our business steadily growing for the past 20 years. It’s an approach that’s tough to scale though!
Duncan After Hours
Can you take us through your morning routine? How do you make sure you start off your days and weeks right?
I go through phases of being a morning person. I’ll have a six month streak where I’ll do yoga before 7am, then another six months of snoozing too late. At the moment, I’m on a roll! Alarm at 6:30, overdose on news (Guardian / New Yorker, Economist are my three go-to reads), do a stretching class (Roger Frampton is an Anjuna fan and I love his videos!), personal study for an hour (doing my MBA next year!), start work at 9:30.
You have one of the coolest sounding jobs of anyone I’ve interviewed. How do you balance work and play in such an effortlessly stimulating industry?
If I’m being honest, I’m rather poor at separating the two. Work and play become very blurred at times. I choose to see that as a positive thing. I feel rather blessed to work within an industry that has given me so much joy over the years.
Can you share some of your favourite artists and tracks with us right now?
Everything by Leaving Laurel. I think all your readers working from home will thoroughly appreciate their vibe. Here’s a good place to start.
What’s the best set you’ve ever experienced?
Daft Punk ‘s ‘Alive’ tour in 2007. If you were there, you’ll understand.
I also cried several times during Dolly Parton’s Glastonbury set in 2014.
Can you talk to us about any rituals you’ve developed over the years that help you stay on top of your game?
I feel like I’m a rather flawed individual and can be overly self-critical at times. When I feel that way, I have a little gratitude practice I run through. Perspective is everything.
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