Behind The Brand: Grahame Farmer / Data Transmission | Soundspace

Behind The Brand: Grahame Farmer / Data Transmission

Industry Insider: Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer is the founder of Data Transmission, a UK-based digital magazine that has reached over 40 million people since launching in 2008.

Now ten years on, Grahame has launched DT Radio and co-founded his own record label – Shanghaied Records. We spoke to him for the inaugural edition of Behind The Brand to hear how fitness and family influence his working life and what the future might hold for one of Britains most engaged tastemakers.

So where did the idea for Data Transmission come from?

In December 2005, Data Transmission started life as an in-house A5 print magazine at Turnmills night club, we wanted something to showcase all the events for a three month period that we could put in the flyer packs instead of the standard batch of flyers. The magazine also included some interviews, that we conducted with the headliners and we even included a drinks token. It also contained the announcement of the first Metro Weekender, which was year two of Get Loaded in the Park & SW4, they then merged later down the line to just South West Four.

Then in late 2007, we at the club learned the it was due to close in March 2008 and Danny Newman who owned Turnmills asked if I wanted to turn Data Transmission in to an online magazine and then myself, Ben Gomori (editor) and Mark Batchelor (Sales) launched on February 1st 2008.

And did you face many struggles in the beginning?

In the beginning not so many, there wasn’t as many magazines around at the time us, Resident Advisor, Mixmag, DJ Mag, possibly FACT Mag so getting access to content was a lot easier.

Social marketing hadn’t really started, so there was plenty of advertising budgets for magazines, which meant there was less pressure on creating interviews and your time having a value – in today’s society this has flipped and a big chunk is spent on social marketing and now you are still asked for the longer time consuming content and your time is expected to be unpaid, so you have to balance the ones you want to do and hustle more.

The real struggles came in the middle when we scaled too quickly and had too many staff, hiring staff that weren’t doing much and also negative staff need to be removed quickly if they remain negative as it effects your whole working life and office. We didn’t jump on a few things we should have in that time as well and regret not using a space we had in an office live streaming.

We launched a video series on YouTube way way back before some of the others and didn’t put enough time in to it, so got behind. Silly things really, when you look back and think. Not giving myself more time to look at the businesses long term goals and being a bit to narrow on my thinking.

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day usually starts at 5am, I like to have a few hours to myself clearing emails, writing news content, I listen to a load of YouTube to try and improve myself and the business in this time. It’s nice quiet time, no messages are pinging, the phone isn’t ringing. You get to give time to research things you wanted to give some time to and also schedule social media posts for the day.

Last year I started running and ran a half marathon after four months of training and have kept this on since and now run three or four times a week. Now i’m getting closer to 40, I feel my health is really important and i’ve put a load of focus on getting that back in check, I want to be able to do things with my daughter.

Then a usual day balances between listening to new music, creating news content for Data Transmission and this usually comes in many forms either from a PR agent, social media and world news – I feel that if you are the first to a big piece of news you win and get a load of great traffic.

I do a lot of searching smaller blogs, SoundCloud, Spotify and Youtube for music. I really like to look at my homepage and have a ton of content that others don’t have and I find a load of magazines just filter down the news that the big guys get as exclusives – which isn’t that great for them especially only a few hours after as people have already read that news or seen it on social media. I’m also constantly searching for new artists especially women and want to find the best out there, I find that only a few women regularly use press agents and to find the real good music you need to dig a bit more.

I also do all the sales and media partnerships and marketing for the brand so usually need to take some time during the day to make sure i’m closing deals and working out who we are supporting in the coming weeks for clubs shows, months for bigger festival deals. I’m building a new network with Alex Jukes from Jukebox PR called The Tribes where we connect brands with 20 music platforms across the electronic music sphere.

The day usually ends about 10pm.

Which project makes you feel the most proud?

In the last twelve months we launched our radio station (DT Radio) which is an online radio station and in under a year we now have 90 record labels and DJs producing exclusive shows for us. It’s been an exciting experience I honestly love radio, i’ve always listened to it, I love it in the car, in the kitchen. I really enjoy well produced shows which have a happy medium between playing music but actually the features and the interviews. We are growing that this year and bringing on more shows, we are working with festivals on whole take over days.

Tell us the worst job you had in the past?

The worse job I ever had was cleaning monitors when I was really young for a summer, I had to use some stinky cleaning stuff (probably white spirit) to basically refurbish these old monitors, then test them and stick them in a bag. I think I did that for a few weeks, it wasn’t great to be fair.

What are your main goals for 2018?

My main goals for 2018 are to be healthier, getting closer to 40 has been a real change in the past six months or so, i’ve started running and did a half marathon and my main focus is now to be much healthier.

Other than, the same as every year, work hard, hustle and try to grow in the right direction and make a decent living. Try to hunt down new artists other sites and blogs don’t know about and shine the light on them first.

As a father with a daughter, try to help increase women’s rights within the industry in any way I can, which for me includes finding more female artists and shining a light on the best. There is a great inequality in this industry not just at the DJ level but across most of the behind the scenes roles and there is a lot of work being done to fix that, and i’m trying to help as much as possible.

What projects do you have running right now?

This year we turn 10, so we are building loads of cool content and events around that. I’m also building out my new personal brand through my Instagram where i’m trying help DJs, producers, blogs and labels to give them for free, my 15 years of being in music to daily helpful tips and advice to help them grow.

We are growing our record label, Shanghaied which we launched last year. We had a great first year for the label and we put out some great records and using our network we got some really good chart places and I feel I really learnt a lot from the process of putting out a record.

Our end of year compilation was number one on Traxsource which was a great feeling, we got a load of new artists we are bringing in to the label for 2018.

I’m also working on a company with Alex Jukes called The Tribes that connects our network of websites to brands and also creates brand partnerships with festivals.

Lastly, give us a track you can’t seem to turn off at the minute?

Tracks wise, things that go on repeat are usually from our artists so new Wax Worx, Ben Sterling or Archie B tracks. I also have just mixed the Data Transmission podcast for the first time in ten years as a 10 years special, picking loads of music i’ve loved over the last 10 years and artists we’ve support. I managed to get 40 tracks in an hour & half, but it could have easily been 50-60.