Label in Focus: Big Scary Monsters


Fortunately, the days where bands required major labels in order to establish fanbases and get anywhere with their careers are long gone. Of course, a major label backing does bring along a lot more money and commercial success but there’s a general consensus, especially outside of the pop industry, that independent labels and DIY are becoming the way to go. There has been a tremendous surge in the alternative scene over the last few years with bands deciding to go DIY with their music. By going it alone, the band have far more options for their material, they are far less constrained than they would be had they been signed by a major label. Signing with a label often means artists are pushed to meet specific deadlines that are set in accordance to business plans, and often artists end up rushing out music they aren’t 100% happy with. Along with this, major labels are known to take unrelenting percentages of earnings from their artists via merch sales, royalties and ticket sales. For many alternative and indie bands money is already short, and when you can see huge chunks of your own income being snatched by people sat in offices, it can only be soul-crushing and annoying. However, not all record labels are villains. Big Scary Monsters (ironically) are a perfect example of this.

Big Scary Monsters are an independent record label originating in Oxford back in the early 2000’s. Since their incarnation, the label have become renowned for their work as well as putting on their own music festivals, pop-up shops and even annual footie tournaments. BSM take the DIY approach and give artists a helping hand. They may be a label but every bit of their DNA is rooted in DIY philosophy and their approach is not only successful but its heartwarming. At the core, this comes down to founder Kevin Douch who himself took the DIY approach with the founding of the label. Starting from complete scratch with little industry ties, he would lend hands to bands wherever possible, setting up stalls at events wherever he could. Fast forward to 2020 and BSM is thriving. The label has a remarkable set of artists on their roster including the likes of; American Football, Gender Roles, Gnarwolves, Joyce Manor, La Dispute, Modern Baseball, Tiny Moving Parts, Mom Jeans and Single Mothers.

BSM host a variety of emo, punk, indie and alternative bands and are a truly established force in the alternative music scene in Europe and USA. At the core, the label are determined to bring out the best in their artists, allowing for talent and potential to come through without a major label’s looming pressures that would be forever present. Their presence is a bright shining ember at the end of a pretty dim tunnel we call the music industry and their work means music fans like myself can support great bands, releasing stellar albums and playing outrageously good gigs at independent music venues up and down the country. Their work is substantial, and the punk scene as well as the alternative scene have benefited greatly from the labels rise. Many awesome up-and-coming bands signed to the label can thank BSM for their success and I can certainly see many more inexplicably good new bands gaining success as a result of their signing to BSM.

You can check out more of Big Scary Monsters at their website.


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Psychology student at UoS.

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