IDOL Insights: meet Bingo Bass
Producer of international acclaim, DJ Zinc hit it big with his 1999 release”138 Trek”, a single that would go on to rank 27th in the UK charts. In collaboration with DJ Hype, he produced the artists Ganja Kru and True Playaz. In the early 2000s, DJ Zinc founded Bingo Beats, a label mainly focused on drum n bass and breakbeat. In 2009, he started Bingo Bass, a sublabel that releases electronic music, to broaden his horizons. Over the years, Bingo Bass has proved to be tenaciously independent in today’s market. In this interview, Benjamin Pettit explains how he managed to remain a reference in his scene, and relevant in the music industry. Though it’s no secret, the key to success is being able to rely on yourself… with a good distributor!
How did Bingo Bass get started and how did it get where it’s at today?
I started Bingo Beats in 2001, with the focus firmly on vinyl. By then, I had been producing and releasing music for 9 years on various labels, but that was the first that I owned on my own. We released mainly breakbeat/garage and dnb until around 2009 then started to release house too – now we release all these and anything else that fits. Since around 2007/8 the focus has shifted to digital sales – we don’t make any vinyl now.
What are the benefits you draw from staying independent? And what are the problems this status represents?
The benefits are being able to make choices freely (no accountants arguing about costs, no A&R people arguing about which tracks to release) and the ability to be nimble. For example, when Covid first came about we could adjust what we were doing immediately.
The problems are having to do all the boring stuff ourselves, having to stay on top of schedules etc. I mess up loads of stuff but we always work it out.
What have been your highs and lows of running your own label as an artist yourself?
The lows are that I don’t have a label team around me, like someone helping with social posts or whatever, but the highs far far outweigh the lows. Being able to decide what is released and when, how much to spend on promo, all that kind of stuff works well for me. And when you do it yourself you aren’t worried that if you are dropped you’ll flop – I think you get a sense of self assurance from being independent.
How important is the support structure when you’re a small label?
I get support running the label from my manager, then sometimes pay consultants to make assets for socials… Other than that the support comes from IDOL: having music delivered correctly by IDOL and knowing that they have good relationships with the DSPs is very important. I have released music via Distrokid so I understand that method – but I think having a good distributor is definitely the best route.
You have remained relevant throughout your illustrious career. What’s the secret?
Hmmm such a good question – I’ve pondered for years and years why some bands or artists disappear after a few years, why people often write their best music in the first 5 years of their careers, and although there are a few theories and considerations, I still don’t really know.
I’ve been motivated by different things as time has gone by, initially by aiming to make music that would fit in with the scene I wanted to be involved in, then later experimenting with different genres.
I find it such a challenge to make music, but really enjoy the challenge. I still watch production tutorials every day and can’t see myself losing interest in it for a while yet!
I guess one thing is that if I get bored of a sound or scene I find something that I’m really into and pursue that, rather than flogging a dead horse!
Why do you think Independence Is A Strength?
Independence is a strength because if you’re the only link there can’t be any weak links.
I’ve seen people have their career derailed because an A&R has left the label they signed to, because the label postponed their release for 18 months to avoid clashing with other acts on the same label, by labels mismanaging releases. It’s kind of scary but very liberating to know that you only have to rely on yourself, and your distro!