In the pre-internet days, discovering unusual music was an arduous task. The arbitration of musical taste in the late 80s was left to a handful of magazines and broadcast tastemakers, who had little to say about progressive music. David Robinson, founder of F2 Music, found himself hitting this wall just as the likes of Marillion were piquing his interest in the genre.
After striking up a conversation with Galahad’s Stuart Nicholson and discovering he wasn’t the only progger feeling this way, he decided to do something about it. Thus began the series of events that led to the creation of three editions of The Directory Of British Progressive Rock in the 1990s, the accompanying cassette samplers and eventually F2 Music, which now incorporates Festival Music and progrock.co.uk, an online music store.
“The label was initially set up as a vehicle to release the debut CD by The Fyreworks in 1997,” explains Robinson. “But it was when I signed Magenta [featuring former Fyreworks keyboardist Rob Reed] that people really sat up and listened. I heavily assisted and worked with them on nine releases on the label, bringing them to the attention of prog fans around the world.”
F2 has gone from being a Brit-focused alternative brand to one that stocks 2,500 prog releases from all across the globe. But while the prog e-revival of recent years has swelled Robinson’s client base and made discovering new music easier, it’s actually made it even harder for bands to make a living off their music, or even make an impact.
“I think it’s as tough as ever to make any money, or even cover costs, for artists,” Robinson says. “You work hard to record an album but very few people know about it, let alone get a chance to hear it. There’s more to it than just sticking a ‘buy’ button on Facebook!”
His operation, made up of just him and his wife, is buoyed by his fervour for the genre. “I honestly believe it’s not the size of company that matters, but the passion and energy that goes into it,” he explains. “I live and breathe this stuff!”
Explore the label and the store at http://www.f2music.co.uk.