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Moray's Duncan McBean launched his record label Flick in 2021 with support from Impact30.

Working with Impact30

When 29-year-old Duncan McBean heard about our IMPACT30 programme, he realised it was just what he needed to launch his record label. An experienced DJ, having played since he was 15 years old, he knew what he wanted to achieve with his label. But, as Duncan points out, you can only launch a record label once, which is where IMPACT30 comes in.

“I’ve never had business mentorship,” says Duncan. “I saw it and thought, ‘that’s exactly what I need to do’.” He applied online in February 2020 and was accepted in July of that year. FLICK was launched in October 2021.

From bedroom DJ to music producer 

Duncan, who lives in Forres, grew up in Elgin and attended high school there as a teen. He had an older group of friends who DJ’d, and he would watch them play and be transfixed. A chance trade of his motorcycle for someone else's old set of decks when he was 15 years old led to three years of practice alone in his room, honing his set and building his skills and confidence. He began by playing at friends' birthday parties before landing his first club gig at Joanna's, a nightclub in Elgin. Duncan then won a competition for a support slot at the Tunnels in Aberdeen, where his set was so well received that he was rebooked several times.

Duncan, who had an entrepreneurial streak from a young age, would run a bus from Elgin to Aberdeen on nights when he was performing at the Tunnels, filling it with other electronic music fans from his hometown. He now believes that this helped him get booked in the early days because the clubs were guaranteed not only a quality set but also a busload of customers who would arrive early and stay all night. Since then, he's been DJing on a regular basis, as well as running club nights in Forres and fostering a community of other local music fans.

In 2017, he began releasing his own music commercially. "It was great working with other labels and artists, but I wanted to put into practice everything I had learned over the years and release music on my own schedule,” Duncan says.

To follow FLICK’s progress, you can follow the label on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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Duncan McBean of record label Flick
Having 121 support was really beneficial. Having someone to keep you accountable. I could bounce ideas off her, and share issues or scenarios - that extra support was really great.
Duncan McBean, Owner, Flick
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Balancing IMPACT30 with a full time job

Duncan's DJing gigs were cancelled when COVID-19 hit, and he suddenly found himself with the time to focus on his label plans, which is when he applied for IMPACT30 after hearing about it through XpoNorth. Duncan, a self-professed "big believer" in learning and development, has applied for various funding and training over the years, benefiting from music-making assistance from Help Musicians UK and Creative Scotland. When he joined IMPACT30, he was assigned a business enabler for one-on-one support, invited to relevant webinars, and introduced to other participants.

“It was really good,” enthuses Duncan. “Being involved in that community and being set up with Claire Smith from AAB - a business enabler - who I could speak to every two weeks for guidance was really beneficial; she kept me accountable. I could bounce ideas off her, and share issues or scenarios. The one-to-one support was really great, as was meeting everyone else, the contacts and the webinars.”

Before being accepted into IMPACT30, Duncan had to persuade the programme leaders that he had the time to participate. While music is his passion, he also works full-time as a waste management officer for Scottish Water. But it's clear after only a half-hour conversation with him that this is someone who relentlessly follows through on his ideas.

“I remember getting a phone call before I was accepted - they were worried about how I was going to balance IMPACT30 with my job. I never had any worries about that as I’ve been doing it for years. I work during the day, walk the dog, make dinner then sit in the studio every night. I also seem to spend a lot of time taking records to the post office - they know me by name there now!  While I was on IMPACT30, I’d quite often have calls with Claire at 4pm as soon as I finished work - it worked well.”

The future for Flick

Duncan launched his label with the release of a track of his own, and being a part of IMPACT30 provided him with the tools to execute the launch flawlessly. He learned how to use Trello boards, created a day-by-day timeline, and ensured that everything was ready for the deadline - artwork approved, press shots completed, physical records pressed, digital distribution organised, and promoters secured. All of his preparation paid off when, a few weeks later, his track took the number one spot within the Raw, Deep, and Hypnotic genre on global electronic music platform Beatport.

“Getting the number one made me feel like I’d done everything right,” says Duncan. “The track was picked up by some big name DJs, and the online broadcasting platform Boiler Room played it on a livestream. I was out walking the dog and I heard it come on - it was an amazing feeling.”

FLICK is clearly off to a good start, and Duncan's plans for the label do not stop there. He's already working on his next two releases (both EPs), and by the end of 2022, he hopes to be taking on other artists.

It's clear that for Duncan, the community aspect of music making is just as important as record sales. He's driven to grow his label so that he can support the young DJs emerging in Moray; despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, he wants to keep putting on gigs, running open deck sessions to give newcomers a platform and mentoring and coaching.

“I want to build the community back up after COVID. I think it’s important. If I stop doing this in Forres then there are no live electronic music gigs happening here. I feel responsible because there’s a knock-on social and economic impact if the gigs stop and people aren’t going out - on taxis, pubs, restaurants, the kebab shop at the end of the street.”

Duncan doesn't hesitate when asked what he would say to someone thinking about participating in IMPACT30. “Definitely do it! Getting that level of support from HIE and AAB is invaluable; there’s a wealth of information there and the support and guidance available is first class. I would encourage anybody to apply,  no matter what stage you’re at - even if it’s just an idea that you have.”

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IMPACT30 is part of the Northern Innovation Hub, a programme funded through the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal - a joint initiative supported by £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, HIE and University of the Highlands and Islands. This programme also receives financial support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Innovation strategic intervention.


Find out more about the programme here


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