NEW SYSTEMS: Becoming self-sufficient as an audio creator

In conversation with Foundation FM’s Heléna Star, and UK MCs Novelist, Manga Saint Hilare and Kadiata.

How are creators, artists and DJs adapting to this new normal? As part of our NEW SYSTEMS initiative to support creators during the global crisis, we’ve been speaking to artists, DJs, broadcasters and platforms about their thoughts and experiences of how the industry can cope and evolve through this process. We don’t have all the answers but we firmly believe that it’s through talking and collaborating with each other that we can build new ways of working that are both fairer and more sustainable for audio culture as a whole – not just during lockdown, but beyond.

Earlier this month we hosted two discussions with creators in different fields. The first, an IG livestream ‘In Conversation with…’ Foundation FM’s Heléna Star, and the second a roundtable where journalist Grant Brydon spoke to Novelist, Manga Saint Hilare and Kadiata about releasing music in isolation. 

Heléna speaks about how, as a full time DJ, her income has been put on pause for the foreseeable future, and how this has led her to re-evaluate how she can become more self-sufficient, and in her words, “anti-fragile.” Nevertheless, as she’s been working out her next moves, she’s found herself reaching out to her community more than ever – collaborating, brainstorming and connecting with friends, fellow creators, and even artists she’s never met before.

She tells us that as a radio station, Foundation FM is well placed to continue reaching and connecting people through its broadcasts, and that she feels there’s a new-found appreciation for radio. For her, as Foundation resurfaces older shows in its broadcasts, this feels like a time to “look backwards, to go forwards” – digging deep into where they’re at and work out where to go next. Tune into their radio archives and support Foundation FM on Mixcloud SELECT.

In contrast, Novelist, Manga Saint Hilare and Kadiata discuss how, as as independent artists self-sufficiency has become second nature and despite the loss of gigs and traditional promotion they’re able to adapt easier to lockdown than artists relying on large teams or major labels. “I actually shot another video in my house on a green screen” says Kadiata, in a bid to continue putting out the music video’s he’d planned before isolation.

Connecting with fans and other artists online, teaching themselves new skills to fill in the gaps and continuing to drop music has allowed them to keep a level of normality and revenue despite the situation. In Novelist’s words, “people don’t forget when you interact with them,” touching on the power of connection through technology with his fans in times like these. Taking that mind-set to new levels, Novelist’s just launched his SELECT and is putting his supporters front-and-centre from the off. Producing a beat live on Instagram, his SELECT supporters can unlock the stems to “Bezerk Riddim” and submit a rework for the chance to be released as part of his new Novelist Selects Vol 1, 2 & 3 series.

Our mission working towards a fairer, more sustainable future for the creative community has never felt more urgent – we’re waiving our SELECT revenue share until the end of June and offering extended 90 days Pro trials so you can fast-track to SELECT and start getting paid for your work. Find out more here.

What challenges have you faced as a creator in lockdown? Join the discussion and let us know your thoughts. We’ll continue to work closely with the creator community to workshop solutions for how we can change the music industry for the better. Check out our article on four ways audio creators are responding to COVID-19.

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