Space Yacht Founders Talk Brand Growth & The Importance of the Local Scene
In the last six years, Space Yacht has grown beyond an event series into a brand. Space Yacht founders Rami Perlman and Henry Lu saw their platform as a way to share their love of house music within their community while also giving rising local talent an opportunity to showcase their art. As COVID-19 forced many music industry members to pivot, Rami and Henry both found themselves with time on their hands, something they had been struggling to have more of prior to the pandemic. Creating opportunity out of adversity, Rami and Henry sunk their teeth into new projects. They talk about how building consistent habits have helped them grow into a brand and their commitment to remaining authentic in every endeavor, especially on social media. The founders also discuss why talent comes first over social following when it comes to music.
Hi Rami and Henry, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with 6AM. How is 2021 treating you two so far?
RP: Thanks for having us! 2021 is going great so far. We had a lot of plans for this year that we started [conceptualizing] months ago, so it’s nice to put some of these new initiatives into action! Lots of activity for us on the record label, live streaming, apparel and crypto-art side of things.
HL: I appreciate you having us. I’ve been on the 6AM newsletters for a while now, and it’s nice to work with other independent folks. We’re only a few weeks into 2021, and it’s been about building insane momentum with the projects we started in 2020.
When it comes to the music business there is no straight path to follow, and no matter what you are trying to achieve, passion for what you do is most important. […] I’d also tell myself that paying dues lasts longer than a few months. I feel like you never really finish paying your dues.
Space Yacht co-founder Rami Perlman on the importance of mindset for creating success in the music industry
Congrats on the upcoming Space Yacht birthday. A lot has happened in six years going from small showcases to festival activations, and now growing more branches in your brand. Before jumping into the evolution of Space Yacht, what’s one thing you’d tell a younger version of yourself when it comes to the music business?
RP: I’d tell my younger self to be patient. When it comes to the music business there is no straight path to follow, and no matter what you are trying to achieve, passion for what you do is most important. I believe this applies to both musicians and people trying to work on the industry side of things such as management, production etc. I’d also tell myself that paying dues lasts longer than a few months. I feel like you never really finish paying your dues.
HL: My answer goes hand-in-hand with Rami’s–it’s to keep at it. Keep being consistent. Keep being persistent. Results don’t happen overnight. Worth noting though: we didn’t start Space Yacht with a grand plan. It was extracurricular, so we had the luxury of taking our time and just having fun at our pace with no real expectations.
Spotting emerging talent is your bread and butter, and the Tech My House compilation is a nod to that. Were all the tracks handpick personally? With so much music out there, what are you looking for when listening to demos? After all, music is subjective…beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.
RP: The Tech My House compilation is a true representation of the Space Yacht community of house music producers and DJs. We had a music-first approach as opposed to trying to get huge names. Clout was not a factor for us. Every track on the compilation is from someone that has either played one of our past events, or we that we found through our Twitch show TuneReactor. For those that are not familiar, Tune Reactor is a show where Henry and I listen to demos submitted by the community and give feedback. 70 percent of what’s on this compilation are records we heard for the first time live on air during Tune Reactor, and signed pretty much on the spot.
HL: We’ve always preached about Space Yacht being a community, and this compilation definitely reflects that. We also realized that since the clubs are closed, people might be listening to this in more of an at-home setting, so we wanted to make sure all the tracks had a cohesive overall sound, similar to an album. While there’s a ton of sonic diversity on the compilation, all of the tracks mesh together really nicely.
We want to hear where you are going, not where you’ve been (in response to managers and artists who send long detailed historical EPKs, but no unreleased music and forthcoming info).
Space Yacht’s Motto
Would you say Tune Reactor was a COVID-19 baby, or was this an idea you all already had in the works just hadn’t had time to execute? It looks like it’s become a nice way to stay connected with your community.
RP: With Tune Reactor, we’d always be getting all these great unreleased tracks from producers who wanted to play our events. We always asked for unreleased music. As Henry puts, “we want to hear where you are going, not where you’ve been” (in response to managers and artists who send long detailed historical EPKs, but no unreleased music and forthcoming info). Once our events got shut down last March, we still wanted to be able to promote new artists and stay connected with our fans. It took us a few weeks to figure out the tech to do the show remotely, but once we did, we decided we had to make it a regular thing, if only to stay connected with our community. A few weeks into the show, we were receiving all of this incredible music, and it became apparent that we should probably take on another project we had been talking about before COVID hit… the record label.
HL: Mainly no, because it was already on our list of ideas, but also yes, because all of a sudden we had all the time in the world to execute the vision. Most of the things that came out of Space Yacht during COVID were either ancillary activities on top of events like live streaming or hosting talk-radio, or things we had planned to do eventually. COVID just made these ideas super immediate, because all of our bandwidth freed up overnight. Even pre-COVID, we as entertainers were figuring out ways to put what we do on the internet, and turn them into entertainment and programming.
courtesy of Eden Shohat @edenskiz
Space Yacht grew out from word-of-mouth, but you also had to have intentional efforts (aka self-promotion) behind its brand evolution, right? What do you think has contributed to your growth? (online platforms, trends, partnerships, etc.)
RP: I think consistency has always been one of our keys to growth. Pretty much after our first Space Yacht event in 2015, we made the decision to make it a weekly event. People knew that no matter what, if it was a Tuesday, Space Yacht was happening. Same with Tune Reactor, which we do religiously three days a week. The other key is to deliver a top tier experience and keep doing that over and over again. We have been lucky to be able to deliver our promise to our fans. For events, it’s the promise of seeing talent that you might not hear for a few years otherwise. On the Twitch side, it’s delivering the idea of uncovering talent and then promoting them through our label and (once COVID is done) our live events.
HL: I’m really thankful we are united and consistent with our mission. We’re here to forward the next generation of electronic music, so our day-to-day tasks are born from the question, “what can I do today to increase our ability to do this? Events (where we started) are one way, but what else?”
People often think having massive numbers on social is the important part–that is SO far from the truth. Social media is important because it’s a free tool for you to connect. The numbers are a byproduct after you start doing it right. So use it to connect!
Space Yacht Co-founder Henry Lu on using social media with intention and authenticity
How important do you think social media is for an artist? Was this an important tool for you when it came to discovering talent and music (pre and during COVID)?
RP: Social has always been the backbone of what we do, for both marketing and talent discovery. As with all companies, social media is an extension of the brand as well as a marketing tool. When it comes to music artists and social media, I think it’s important, but the music has to come first. If you have the music, the rest will fall into place. But no matter what, one’s social presence must be authentic to that person. People can see when someone is trying too hard from a mile away.
HL: It’s very important, but don’t get it twisted, because you need to make a very important distinction. People often think having massive numbers on social is the important part–that is SO far from the truth. Social media is important because it’s a free tool for you to connect. The numbers are a byproduct after you start doing it right. So use it to connect!
Are there any tips aspiring artists can keep handy when submitting music to Space Yacht?
RP: Tune Reactor is actually the best way to get our undivided attention. We do most of our A&R live on air. We do listen to other demos that people email us, and have signed records outside of the show, but if you are someone new to us i’d say tune in and submit your demo!
HL: Tune Reactor is the superior form of A&R for us by far. [The] instant feedback, undivided attention, and you get the energy of the crowd in the chat which is often also full of like-minded producers. We’re now seeing producers export music at 3:30, have it heard by us at 4 p.m. when we turn on our Twitch, and post our reaction to their track on their Instagram by 4:30–it was never like this in the past.
Anything else you’d like to share?
RP: In addition to the record label, we are really excited about a few initiatives for this year which include the continued growth of our apparel business and our newfound entrance into the world of crypto art. We see both as a new outlet for creativity for our brand. In both cases, we are working on a bunch of new products, collaborations and content that we’ll be dropping every month. These are two areas of our business that have taken on a life of their own but still connect with the core values of our brand.
HL: I’m really excited for all these projects to start reconnecting as they grow into real things. Now that we’ve spent over 10 months strictly on e-commerce, streaming, and leveraging digital/virtual media, I’m excited to see how they tie back to our IRL activities like concerts, in-person merch booths, on-stage interviews, and all that. I think the synergies are going to be insane as events hopefully return.