Meet The Team: CI

CI, formerly Consolidated Independent, makes important stuff happen for the independent label community.

The UK-born company offers digital supply chains to many of the biggest record labels, aggregators and distributors in the world.

Importantly, it does so without any major label involvement in its business whatsoever, and no venture capital investment either.

The firm made 16 million digital deliveries in 2014 to over 200 services, and holds a total catalogue of more than 1.8 million tracks.

As such, it powers a ginormous amount of business for the independent music sector. No pressure.

The Independent Echo caught up with its London-based team to learn more about the company…


KIERON FALLER, General Manager


* What’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to you at CI?

Selfishly, the coolest thing is working every day with labels that I’ve idolised since being a teenager – XL, SubPop, Drag City, Matador, Bella Union and Heavenly, to name a few.

Some we work with directly and some through their distributor. Knowing that our team has had a hand in their releases getting to listeners is really special.

The other contender is being poured pints at a party in our downstairs bar by Al Doyle from Hot Chip & LCD Soundsystem – he used to live in the building where CI has its office, and Hot Chip still use the studio downstairs for writing and rehearsals.

* What does CI mean to you and why are you proud to work there?

We’re a company that have been under the radar for many years, quietly helping independents all over the world stay independent in the digital age.

We do a complicated and tricky technical task at massive scale (delivering a track every 2 seconds, 24/7/365) on a very modest budget.

What we do enables huge amounts of the revenue from recorded music stay within the independent sector rather than get siphoned off by the majors. Basically, we’re sticking it to the man.

“We enable huge amounts of revenue from recorded music to stay in the independent sector, rather than getting siphoned off by the majors.”

A big part of how we do that is to help the sector understand the technical areas to be conscious of, and improving the quality of digital music products over time – better quality artwork, higher quality audio, more consistent metadata.

All of these things are sometimes forgotten in the rush to get products to hit release date, but they are subconscious cues for the consumer as to the likely quality of the music itself. In an age when everything is available, you really shouldn’t handicap yourself by making your consumer put up with something less than excellent.

CI helps indies hit that target of excellence.

I’m also really proud of the way we run our business internally – we work very hard to support our team, and we hugely value each team member’s expertise, dedication, professionalism and integrity. We treat everyone we work with, inside and outside the company, as people. Not many businesses can say that and mean it.

* What do you hope to achieve at the company in the future?

As established market leader in the UK, US and Australia, we are now making good progress in the Asian region in general.

Helping that whole region to professionalise their digital music industries would be a big win for the global industry in terms of access and content flow in and out of the region.

Personally, I hope to help the company to continue to support the independent sector everywhere, both through extending the services we offer over time, and in helping the sector understand how they can make the most of the massive opportunities in the digital world.


SHAUN YULE, Support & Business Administration

 

* What’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to you at CI?

The coolest thing(s) would have to be my two visits to Tokyo for TIMM (Tokyo International Music Market).

It’s somewhere I’d always wanted to go and so to do it as part of my job was amazing.

I remember watching this insane 10-strong idol group called Alice No. 10 who were dressed in Jason hockey masks at a J-Pop showcase and just feeling really honoured to be there!

* What does CI mean to you and why are you proud to work there?

I’m proud to work here because for a small and completely independent company we certainly punch above our weight with regards to the clients we work with and how we’re regarded by them.

You only have to look at the nominations of the AIM Awards to see how much of it passes through our platform in some form or other.

I also think we have a great team and are on a similar wavelength in many respects.

* What do you hope to achieve at the company in the future?

Just to continue growing along with it, helping more content owners from around the world get their music out there on their own terms.


ALEX MEIN SMITH, Operations Manager

 

* What’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to you at CI?

  • People like Peter Christopherson, Chris and Cosey or David Tibet wandering in to see how it’s going.
  • Checking top hi-fi equipment (for work of course).
  • Trips to NY and Paris (for work of course).
  • Being literally the only representatives of the indies at technical conferences.
  • Nerding out at Cedar Audio and discovering later that the person who had been explaining everything was Gordon Reid.

* What does CI mean to you and why are you proud to work there?

As far as today’s music is concerned, the indies seem to be responsible for pretty much everything that matters from an artistic perspective.

I am glad to be a part of putting that out into the world.

* What do you hope to achieve at the company in the future?

I think CI and the companies that use us represent a more “pure” idea of what music is supposed to be about, and as the wider industry evolves rapidly I am expecting that we will stick around through it all, and actually become stronger – precisely because of what we represent.


SUMMER KIM, Head of Business Development

 

* What’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to you at CI?

Everyone spends so much time in front of computer these days that everyone constantly suffers from back and neck pain. CI became a standing office earlier this year.

Everyone has their white shiny standing desks and long chairs. Yes! Exactly what the future will look like.

You can walk around the office while developing amazing ideas. You can also sit on a chair and ground yourself.

This big change in our office space made my aches and pains go away, and also positively affected the dynamics in the office. I’d strongly recommend this to any creative companies!

* What does CI mean to you and why are you proud to work there?

CI made me see the music industry from a different angle altogether. I love the spirit of the company.

We believe in the power of music, and particularly the great music from indies. However, technology is always evolving and new innovation comes to the industry overnight.

CI has been here for long time to make this expensive investment for labels and distributors easily accessible at very low cost.

Also, our vast network also gives us the opportunity to work with any content owner from anywhere.

We are working with companies from over 20 countries. I am very proud that we can help lots of different music become available for music fans worldwide.

* What do you hope to achieve at the company in the future?

We are small but clever. I believe our collective knowledge at CI is future-proofed.

We just need to continue focusing on what we are good at and by doing so, we can continue to provide our essential service into the future.