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By Jay Jervis and
Kirstie Houghton
At the Beginning....
On the 20th February 1976, the Rough Trade shop on Kensington Park,
Ladbroke Grove was opened by Geof...
Moving Forward....
In 1977, Richard Scott became Rough Trade’s Distribution worker.
Richard worked towards distributing to...
Successful chart positions....
Rough Trade soon became a record label producing lots of different singles and
albums for a...
Holding onto the success created....
The problem independent companies including Rough Trade had were holding onto
their s...
Change in decade and direction....
1980 was the start of the new decade and direction for the Rough Trade records, Rough
T...
Financial Difficulties....Rifts and Disagreements....
In 1982 Rough Trade had to overcome a number of difficulties, this b...
The Smiths....
The Smiths were the band who went to Rough Trade to get a record deal, when Geoff Travis heard
the song, he...
Conventions and Mimicking....
With the success of The Smiths, Rough Trade
began to become and development in an all
round ...
Demise and end of Rough Trade
In 1991, The stats showed that 90% revenue was
from the distribution of singles and albums.
...
Rough Trade Reborn....
It would be the best part of a decade before Geoff Travis
and Jeannette Lee could reacquire the rig...
New start, new beginning....
The rebuilding process of Rough Trade was in
process, the priority was to create stability,
t...
21st Century....
Now in the 21st Century, Rough Trade wanted to
continue their success like Pulp with another
band, along ...
30 Years since the beginning....
30 years on and Rough Trade has had the ups and the downs in the
thirty year period, but ...
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Rough trade 2

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Rough trade 2

  1. 1. By Jay Jervis and Kirstie Houghton
  2. 2. At the Beginning.... On the 20th February 1976, the Rough Trade shop on Kensington Park, Ladbroke Grove was opened by Geoff Travis, the name Rough Trade came from a Canadian band. The Rough Trade shop was a shop that sold Punk Tracks, but soon developed a relationship with the Reggae community around them, therefore creating an alliance with them and selling Reggae tracks as well as the Punk tracks. Rough Trade soon had a band called the Buzzcocks. The Buzzcocks had a single in 1977 but did not have a record company, therefore this made it hard to market the song and also distribute the song. The positives were that the band gave the shop the idea to promote independent artists without a record label, soon becoming the D.I.Y culture of society. This new culture would then open the doors for Rough Trade to create their own record label.
  3. 3. Moving Forward.... In 1977, Richard Scott became Rough Trade’s Distribution worker. Richard worked towards distributing to a range of independent companies within the country and also trying to secure an worldwide independent distribution deal. By 1978, the distribution system was going really well with the emerging D.I.Y culture and soon gave Rough Trade the chance to create their record label. The first release under the record label was from a French band called Metal Urbain, the band has the distinction of being the first Rough Trade release and was swiftly followed that year by an eclectic further eleven singles, many of which stand today as classics of their genre.
  4. 4. Successful chart positions.... Rough Trade soon became a record label producing lots of different singles and albums for artists, the big Album for them coming from Scritti Politti called ‘Stiff little fingers’. This proved to be Rough Trades most successful album to date reaching number 14 in the charts selling 100,000, the first ever independent to sell 100,000 copies. The album gave Rough Trade revenue that they had never had before, therefore this money was used to produced and promote more of their artists such as the Raincoats and also The Specials who went on to sell 375,000 singles with their song ‘Two tone’. By the end of the decade there were over 800 independent companies, this emphasising the impact and growth of independent companies in such a small period.
  5. 5. Holding onto the success created.... The problem independent companies including Rough Trade had were holding onto their successful bands they have created. The success of Stiff Little Fingers was soured when they became the first band to leave Rough Trade. At the beginning Rough Trade did not agree or even create a contract with the band, therefore having no guarantee of holding onto them. Stiff Little Fingers went to sign for a bigger record label, this being a positive move for them because it guaranteed them security in the industry and also success, therefore they did not have any over choice but to move on and become a major record labels band. Soon, other bands began to follow the trend and leave Rough Trade for the major record labels, thus creating Geoff Travis to create stability and a contract for their new bands to sign and guarantee at least three albums.
  6. 6. Change in decade and direction.... 1980 was the start of the new decade and direction for the Rough Trade records, Rough Trade records had a new bigger accommodation at Blenheim Crescent and began to sell a new genre, Black American Pop. The first song on the new genre was the song ‘Sweetest girl’ by Robert Wyatt, the song sold 60,000 singles and reaching #64 in the charts. Other songs by Robert Wyatt included the famously made song ‘Ship Building’ , for the soldiers fighting the country which reached # 36 in the charts.
  7. 7. Financial Difficulties....Rifts and Disagreements.... In 1982 Rough Trade had to overcome a number of difficulties, this because the company was beginning to lose all its money, therefore resulting in Geoff Travis and his associates to cut back their resources. Cuts backs resulted in the shop were it all began to be sold to three of workers in the shop, that is still owned by them to date and also in a difficult position to decide whether to cut back further or release some bands. The difficult period became even more so difficult because of a rift between the Record label manager Geoff Travis, and also Distributer manager Richard Scott. Both believed that their side of the business needed the more money and this resulted in them not agreeing on where the little money should be put in to. this rift would never be resolved at the time and not to date. The Lifeline The rift did not help the company move forward and with the little amount of money to spend, Rough Trade looked like they were stuck, but an unexpected man went to Rough Trade and gave a demo to Geoff Travis to listen to, listening to the song over the weekend, Geoff decided to sign the band ‘The Smiths’, the band that saved the business from extinction.
  8. 8. The Smiths.... The Smiths were the band who went to Rough Trade to get a record deal, when Geoff Travis heard the song, he signed them to Rough Trade Records and for the first time had a written contract with a band, the conventional contract stated that ‘The Smiths’ would produce four albums with Rough Trade Records and this therefore guaranteed that they could not lose the band to another company like in the past. The Smiths single ‘This Charming man’ reached #26 in the charts. The Smiths continued their success as they produced a second album and a third, but early loosing the band to EMI with the third album. The Smiths had a #1 album and 16 top 20 singles, thus showing there success and drawing attention from the major labels. The band was later singed to EMI, but due to the contract of Rough Trade they secured three albums and gained lots of revenue for themselves, therefore being able to fund a new band such as The Sundays with their song ‘Wooden Tops’ that reached #4 in the British charts.
  9. 9. Conventions and Mimicking.... With the success of The Smiths, Rough Trade began to become and development in an all round business. Therefore Geoff Travis decided to higher staff to meet the needs of the business, also the management was handed over, a HQ was established and also the financial pay changed, where staff were given a salary where it could be different to another's. This new idea of new management and business ideas are good for the business but some could say a contradiction of Geoff Travis’s morals, this is because Geoff Travis wanted to create a company for the independent bands to create a platform and become successful, but Geoff at this point is creating Rough Trade to be like a major label, a way Geoff said he didn’t want to be...
  10. 10. Demise and end of Rough Trade In 1991, The stats showed that 90% revenue was from the distribution of singles and albums. With the contracts of their artists expiring and Rough Trade unable to match the money of the major labels to compete and keep their bands, Rough Trade had no more money to continue the business and as a result 2/3rds of Rough Trade staff were axed. Following a series of unfortunate business decisions and credit issues affecting distribution, Rough Trade International, the parent company, went into Administration. All of the assets, including the record company and the rights to the Rough Trade name itself, were sold off in an attempt to cover Distribution’s debts. The Rough Trade story, at least for the moment, was over.
  11. 11. Rough Trade Reborn.... It would be the best part of a decade before Geoff Travis and Jeannette Lee could reacquire the rights to the Rough Trade name and begin again as a record company with the help of trading partner Sanctuary. Once again the old Rough Trade ethos came to the fore – an openness of mind, a willingness to be moved and an unswerving belief in the vision of the artists. They were back in west London, too, which has always seemed the spiritual homeland of Rough Trade. In Spring 2001, Geoff and Jeannette DJ’d at the V&A for the 25th anniversary party of the Rough Trade shop and the good faith elicited convinced them that they were absolutely right to re-launch the label. They had already released a trickle of albums and singles but it was an unsolicited tape from New York they had received a few months earlier that would spectacularly give them they ammunition they needed.
  12. 12. New start, new beginning.... The rebuilding process of Rough Trade was in process, the priority was to create stability, therefore Geoff Travis and Jeannette Lee moved into a small office to run their business, after loosing everything even the name of the business, therefore one of their priorities was to get the name of Rough Trade back. The next upcoming were low key until 1993 when Rough Trade came across Jarvis Cocker and his band Pulp. After working with Geoff Travis, Pulp released their debut song called ‘Common People’, this reached #2 in the charts. To follow their debut single, they soon followed with 5 consecutive top 10’s Pulp brought Rough Trade’s record label back and signified the new beginning of Rough Trade’s resurrection.
  13. 13. 21st Century.... Now in the 21st Century, Rough Trade wanted to continue their success like Pulp with another band, along came The Strokes. A risk was made when Rough Trade began to promote and be the record label for the band, but chose not to put the band on a contract, therefore this being risky because the thought of loosing out to the major labels in the previous years. The Strokes were Rough Trade’s biggest band to be signed. The following band were The Libertines, following The Stokes success, The Libertines continued the success for Rough Trade and was the point of where both bands were the reason of Rough Trade’s reestablishment.
  14. 14. 30 Years since the beginning.... 30 years on and Rough Trade has had the ups and the downs in the thirty year period, but to date is running very successfully. The most recent singer part of Rough Trade is Duffy, a contract with her was made and it stated her to make four albums. Her debut single ‘Mercy’ had a brilliant response and reached #1 in the singles chart, this is the first time Rough Trade had ever had a #1 after 30 years on. Through the years Rough Trade has produced many great artists and to date are still going strong, hoping in the near future that another #1 will be made.

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