Our History

I (Huw Roberts) started Serein as a hobby in 2005. It was a so-called net-label, meaning all output was made freely available to download. Creating any kind of physical media was not really considered early on, but after the success of an EP by Nest, which got tens of thousands of downloads and a lot of attention, in 2009 I thought it might be worth giving music a shot on proper 'grown-up' terms (y'know like making records).

The first properly commercial release was an expanded version of that Nest EP, Retold. I pressed 1000 copies, it got album of the week on Boomkat (it was a big deal at the time) and sold out pretty quickly. Me and Otto were super surprised and happy about this and it gave me a lot of confidence about running a label.

Between 2009 and 2022 I put music out by a lot of really good producers and musicians. Almost all of it was available either on CD or on vinyl. Only very late on during this time were a few things released without any kind of physical accompaniment. I am really grateful to everyone who was involved in one way or another during this time - all the great musicians, producers, artists and engineers I worked with helped me shape the label and I am really proud of everything we made together.

In 2016, the UK (not me!) voted to leave the EU (Brexit). This made running a label harder. Postage costs went up and consequently people bought fewer records. This was particularly hard on our many fans from overseas. Previously I had been shipping all over the world - everywhere across Europe, Australia, Canada, the US and all very regularly. At the same time, vinyl pressing costs were going up, lead times were up, the world was burning and I'd pretty much had enough of trying to make a commercial success of this thing I started for fun so long ago. The start of COVID in 2020 was the last straw and things were almost exclusively digital from that point on.

From then until now (I'm writing this on October 20th, 2023), the main outlets for our music have been Bandcamp and Spotify. I know streaming is a mixed bag for most people, but it's been a positive for Serein on the whole. I've had tracks get placed in editorial playlists long-term and the payouts are good when that happens. Of course, it's still rare and a bit of a lottery. Bandcamp on the other hand has been a reliable partner in making music available and it is reassuring that people are still happy and willing to pay to own digital music. At least there's still good ol' Bandcamp... *facepalm*

In case you haven't followed the news, Bandcamp got bought by Epic then acquired by Songtradr. If you are unaware, I suggest you read this Pitchfork article by Philip Sherburne (who charted Nest / Retold in his 2010 end of year for The Wire): Is Bandcamp as We Know It Over? and this one by Peter Kirn for Create Digital Music: Bandcamp layoffs reportedly cut deep into customer service.

I am sad about this news. Bandcamp always felt liks this kind of pure, benevolent force in the world of music. Everything about it seemed to have integrity; the little things like suggesting you price your music honestly without the age-old marketing trick of rounding down to the nearest penny, (£8 instead of £7.99) which I was probably guilty of. I don't believe this was all a ploy to get us all signed up so they could cash in, I don't really know what happened or why they sold, but it's so disheartening that yet another small company has been gobbled up by the corporate world; a sad lump of meat being bought and sold, diced and canned for some shareholders to make a few more pennies.

So what's next? I don't know, but I am sure that Rune Grammofon were right: Money Will Ruin Everything

The name Serein was taken from a meteorological dictionary, it is used to describe ‘fine rain falling from a clear sky after sunset’. We pronounce it seh-rain, you can say it however you want.


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