How to run a label
Founder, Transgressive Records
At 32 years of age, Toby L could be considered a music industry veteran. For over half his life he has immersed himself in the business, accumulating an outstanding CV along the way. He is already founder of a leading online music publication and live promotions company, co-founder of a highly successful record label, publishing and management company, and has served as founding partner and creative director at one the fastest growing music media companies in the business.
Whatever hat he’s wearing – serial entrepreneur, filmmaker, journalist, TV producer, TV presenter, promoter, or creative director, his list of career accomplishments reads like a highly successful professional approaching retirement, rather than someone that not long ago entered his thirties.
It all began for Toby at the age of 15, while still at school. As he would admit himself, he just started blogging about what he loved – going to live music gigs, listening to new music – long before anybody was calling it “blogging”. This soon became Rockfeedback.com, which he founded in 2000 as “a new view on music”. The site intended to provide quality, discerning editorial around music, formed from a wish to promote and nurture up-and-coming talent and bands, hosting early interviews with the likes of The Libertines, Gorillaz and Bloc Party (he cites one of his fondest, earliest memories of this period as scoring one of the first UK interviews with The Strokes in their hotel room, when aged just 16).
It wasn’t long before his venture expanded into the world of live events and, in 2002 Rockfeedback Concerts was born. Starting out as The Basement Club in Islington, in association with The Strokes producer Gordon Raphael, the night was sold out every month and featured many of the country’s future mega-stars months before they would hit the charts.
In 2004, he co-founded the independent record label Transgressive Records with his new partner in crime, Tim Dellow, working with and signing artists such as Foals, At The Drive-In, Two Door Cinema Club, Graham Coxon, Regina Spektor, The Shins, Africa Express, and Johnny Flynn (recent artists signed to the label include Flume, Songhoy Blues - nominated as Best Newcomer at AIM Awards and Q Awards in 2015 - Alvvays, Blaenavon and Gengahr). Transgressive Publishing and Management soon followed.
In that same year, he evolved Rockfeedback into TV production with 'Rockfeedback Presents’, a series first commissioned by MTV, and later picked up by Channel 4. Running for six series, the critically acclaimed show documented live music events across the world, from Sao Paulo to Iceland to America to Japan. This experience, working with brands and broadcasters, as well as artists, on music TV output allowed Toby to hone the Rockfeedback platform into a slick and highly respected TV and online video production outfit. From its humble beginnings as a webzine, the Rockfeedback media brand was now synonymous with some of the UK’s most influential and leading edge music content, be that editorial, online video, TV or live performances.
It led to a spin-off operation, the music media company LoveLive, in 2008, where Toby became Founding Partner and Creative Director, whilst still overseeing Transgressive and Rockfeedback. As Creative Director of LoveLive, he facilitated the production of multi-platform content from over 500 shoots and live performances per year. He directed and produced projects for some of the world’s biggest brands and music artists – including in recent years Rihanna’s 777 tour, BRIT Awards, Yahoo! Wireless Festival, Adele’s ‘21’ album launch, BT’s 2012 Olympics activity, to name but a few. He launched LoveLive’s YouTube channel that hosted live streams and exclusive content from artists including Madonna, Muse, Plan B, Rihanna and Ellie Goulding, which gained in excess of 5m views and 130,000 subscribers in just five months. He was instrumental in LoveLive’s rapid growth that saw revenues double each of its years, the company going on to employ over 50 people in London, New York and Los Angeles.
Stepping aside as LoveLive’s Creative Director in 2016 to focus on the continued evolution of Transgressive as well as Rockfeedback’s festival properties, the last two years have seen Transgressive’s first Grammy win (Flume - ‘Skin’), the launch of a new major festival in Margate (By The Sea Festival), plus Toby being awarded A&R of the Year at the Music Producer Guild Awards (2017).
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