(Original Photo By: Courtesy of Sense Traxx)
It can be tough to break into the music industry. When referring to mainstream music it is a behemoth industry where only a few major labels control a lot of the action. However, the dance music world allows for much easier entry from independent artists and record labels. Dance music is based more on singles than albums, and artists can connect with their fans in smaller venues than larger pop artists. For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, you can make a name for yourself in the dance music sphere. That’s what Simon Birkumshaw has done with his label and events brand, Sense Traxx. The UK house and techno label has become well known over the past four years. Additionally, he runs Kerri Chandler’s MadHouse and MadTech record labels. For Simon, he always had an itch to work in the music scene.
“When I was younger I knew that I always wanted to work in music; I was often told that it required luck and that I need to get a sensible job and do something that’s realistic. Well, I believe that it was a challenge to prove them wrong. I jump at every opportunity to get involved with music, whether at a club, in live performance, music production, or even other skills like social media and admin – anything that will gain me the industry experience I need. I’ve always made sure that I am putting myself in positions that could open up doors and give me the opportunity to progress in a career I’ve always wanted.”
Armed with a drive to prove himself and an eagerness to learn literally every aspect of the industry possible, Simon set about doing just that. He worked at record labels and clubs, and of course founded his Sense Traxx party, which started as a gathering at his house, and now attracts thousands of people to larger events on the Southend of England. He has also brought Sense Traxx to London, Ibiza, and Switzerland. Again, a “can do” attitude and a thirst for hard work are what helped bring Simon to where he is today.
“I was working with events and nightclubs for a while, but when I landed my first full-time job in the music department at Defected Records, that was definitely the moment I realized I was not going to let anything get in my way to get to the top. Since then I have put myself in as many situations to increase my knowledge and develop my skills, always trying to be as humble and give as much of myself as I can. It’s now four years down the line and I am running three high profile record labels, regular events, and other projects.
If you want it that much, you have to go out and get it, and do everything you can to make your dreams come true. Never give up. Just try, and don’t be afraid to fail – nothing comes easy. If you want it, you have to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and put the hours in.”
Overwork can take a toll on an individual, however. It’s important for anyone to be mindful of their workload and maintain some type of work-life balance. We’ve seen the biggest stars succumb to rigors of fame, a loaded travel schedule, et al. Fatigue affects everyone, and sometimes it can start negatively impacting our work and personal lives without some perspective and rest. Simon ended up feeling the pressure, and he took some much needed time off and sought assistance. It’s all worked out for the better and after several months away, Simon is now re-energized and more motivated than ever to pursue his dreams. But, the stress almost derailed him, like it has so many other people.
“Over the years the challenge to make music a successful full-time career has definitely brought plenty of stress. At one point I actually felt that this was having a negative impact on my passion and enthusiasm to work hard and achieve the goals I was setting for myself. When I was so driven, working every hour of the day and channeling all my energy into my career, I forgot about my own health. At the start of 2017 I made the decision to speak to someone about it as I felt very deflated and had a loss of motivation and direction. It was only after 8-10 months of talking to someone and reassessing my career and life that I have gotten myself back on track. I am now more motivated than ever before. But, I have learned a lot about myself and understand that it’s important to take those breaks and step back now and again to assess how I’m doing. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in your own world you forget about everything else around you.”
After seeking out help and stepping away for an extended period, Simon is now back and better than ever. His label has been consistently pumping out quality releases and he threw a wild party for Sense Traxx’s fifth birthday just last month. As Simon reflected on his time in the industry, he advised that while there’s no right or wrong way to achieve success in the business, there are always opportunities to learn and diversify your skillset. It’s all about getting better results.
“I have had the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the best. The most important thing to me is not always learning how to do things the right way, but understanding the importance of a well-planned and mapped out campaign. Planning is so important and I know that by being organized and having a strategy for each project – a release, event, or general brand awareness – can really help you maximize results. I try to be a sponge by watching and looking at everything else, and then trying to think of creative ways to make the projects and campaigns I am involved with impactful and stand out against everyone else.”