He’s A&R for the mighty R&S as well as a DJ, promotor event organiser, music consultant and general all-round music industry player. For the first of this month’s The Business Of Music interviews, we speak with Raj ‘Rags’ Chaudhuri.
Raj Chaudhuri’s LinkedIn says ‘freelance music guy’. That’s because it’s hard to pin down what he does exactly. Alongside DJing at his own parties Livin’ Proof, Bubble Chamber and on NTS radio, he’s a freelance all-rounder: a trusted tastemaker, organiser, creative and visionary in music. An adaptable jack of all trades, Raj has heard a lot and seen a lot and sits within a network of major contacts who bring him when they need the magic ‘Raj’ touch. Whether it’s heading A&Ring projects for R&S or overseeing a pop-up shop for Bleep, he has you covered.
Attack Magazine: What is it you do and how did you get here?
Raj Chaudhuri: I started working in Deal Real in Carnaby Street when I was 18. It’s probably the best job I’ve ever done and I’ve done some pretty cool jobs. After I finished at art school I became Marketing Manager at Bleep. The whole time on the side, I was running parties and DJing. When the Livin’ Proof party I ran got more successful, I left my day job and was like ‘I’m never going to work for anyone again.’ I really focused on travelling whilst still being able to earn money through the parties, DJing and running Bleep’s record label on a freelance basis.
I loved being able to travel and still work at the same time. Then I was offered the role of Head of Music at Boiler Room and Blaise the founder of Boiler Room basically said – “I’ll pay you to travel the world”. It was an opportunity too good to turn down, so I decided to dip back into full-time employment.
After an amazing 3 and a half years, I again left Boiler Room and a full-time job – basically itching to be my own boss again. I went travelling for a long period again, ha. I do a lot of music consultancy now, I A&R for R&S records. I still do projects with Bleep and Boiler Room. Programming, event organisation, record labels, A&Ring, I do all of it really, consulting with different companies who want advice… it’s quite a broad thing.
People in record stores generally know their stuff so being surrounded by music fanatics is amazing. Having those conversations with artists, label managers, distributors, and customers all day every day. Music retail, distributors, artists, labels. It’s invaluable. There’s something quite special about being introduced to that infrastructure at an early age; it’s where you cut your teeth. I don’t think I’d be where I was if it wasn’t for that first job.
What did you do as head of Music at Boiler Room?
I signed off every show essentially. The worldwide programmers would report to me and we’d go over what shows were happening. I’d overlook strategy, prioritising shows, and of course, I was booking shows myself: the big projects with partnerships, festivals, branded shows as well as personal smaller passion-projects. I was also the go-between for the music team and the rest of the different departments and the people at the top.
Looking back, I made some really great friendships, like, Errol who now does Touching Bass was originally in the editorial team, Ahad who now does More Time Records was in the marketing team and I brought them both in the music team to program their first Boiler Room shows and they both just thrived. It’s great to see them all doing their own things now with DJing, labels and parties.
My best friend is a junior doctor and was telling me about the whole PPE situation at the beginning of lockdown. It was so depressing, I felt I had to do something. Bandcamp announced they were doing their Bandcamp Day and I said to R&S ‘let me do a compilation for it.’ I had nine days to put it together. I got together 43 tracks, Andy the label manager put together the t-shirt and Beau mastered the tracks very late the night before release so it was all very much ‘all hands on deck’. We raised over £45k with the compilation.
I’m also going to be doing a 12” series for R&S over the next 12 months focused on new artists which I’m really excited about. More details to follow…