Label Mates: Alex Esser / House Music With Love

Malmö-based record label and blog House Music With Love have been sharing deep and organic club sounds for more than ten years, pulling in audiences in the millions across SoundCloud, YouTube, and Spotify.

Their label has seen releases come from names like Tensnake, Urmet K, Niconé, and Sofiya Nzau – and they’ve already got 2024 off to an impressive start with music from Soul Star, Touzani, Seba Campos, and others dropping since the new year.

We spoke to House Music With Love founder Alex Esser to talk all about why they decided to start a label, how things have developed over the years, and who else we can expect to see release on the imprint in the coming months. Read the full interview below.

You first launched the label back in 2014, what made you decide to become a label owner?

Time flies indeed! You’re absolutely right. We began in 2014 when our good friend Edgar Ariza (also known as Ascorbite here in Malmö) sent us his first EP in search of a label. Originally, HMWL was a music blog, and we had no intention of becoming a label. However, as more talented producers in our circle created exceptional music but struggled to find suitable platforms, they turned to us for support.

Eventually we agreed to release their tracks as we already had an established brand and platform for electronic music. That first Ascorbige – Filten EP did great, scoring over two million streams. Great tracks by a talented artist. But since it was also our’s and Ascorbite’s very first EP, we got lucky I guess.

What are some of the biggest hurdles you faced in the very beginning?

It was initially a hobby project, and we found it challenging to break even or make any profit during the first few years. In 2014, during the peak of blogs, we had 2000 daily visits to our website. However, generating significant revenue on platforms like Spotify and Beatport proved to be quite difficult for a newly established label. We would invest €1000-1500 of our own money into each release, only to see some releases barely make €10 in return.

You’ve released music from artists like Amir Telem, Urmet K, and Wassu – what’s your typical approach to bringing in demos and signing new music?

I would also mention Sofiya Nzau, El Mundo & Zazou, Dan Bay, Tensnake, Jordan Arts, Arina Mur, HOVR, Niconé and David Hasert. In addition to being a label, we’re also a premier channel with 186,000 followers on Soundcloud and 260,000 on Spotify. Consequently, we receive a vast amount of music submissions, around 20+ emails daily. While we do our best to listen to everything, some emails unfortunately get overlooked. Apologies for that.

Quality is a subjective term but at least we know what we like and what resonates with our nearly 500,000 listeners on Soundcloud and Spotify. It’s easier for us to approach artists as we’ve already established numerous relationships and can request demos or remixes. You can always send your demos to – we really try to listen to everything. If you don’t get a reply please send a reminder after one week. Be persistent – the same goes to pitching to other labels.

One role in running a label that most people might not be aware of?

Growth hacking. While most people might find it tedious, I personally enjoy it. I spend a lot of time every week optimizing our Instagram ads and strategies to grow followers on Spotify, Instagram, and Soundcloud. Thanks to this our own Afro house and melodic house playlists generate around 30,000 plays per track per month, reducing our reliance on editorial playlists.

Having robust channels provides us with an advantage. Artists releasing with us know they’ll receive substantial exposure on Soundcloud, Youtube, and Instagram, leading to increased Spotify streams and track sales. This enables us to take risks on new and unknown artists if we believe in their music.

What advice would you give to anyone that wants to launch their own label in 2024?

Simplicty, focus, determination. With over 100,000 tracks released every day, it’s crucial to stand out and identify your competitive advantage amidst the noise. Find a channel or platform you’re comfortable with and focus on building it for growth and longevity. Whether it’s a Spotify niche playlist, a Youtube radio channel, or a TikTok account. Find one platform where you aim to cultivate a following of 100,000 fans. This ensures that every new track you release will have an eager audience awaiting it, eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel each time.

Who can we expect to hear on House Music With Love in the near future?

We have an all female EP dropping in March which features Lex Ludlow, Tigerbalm, Rïa Mehta, and Arina Mur. Then remixes by Hernan Cattaneo & Kevin di Serna and Budakid. New releases by Eric Sharp, The Oddness, Lex Ludlow, Dan Bay, Nes Mburu, Jordan Arts, and Gobi Desert Collective.

What’s your favourite label?

I’m a big fan of Get Physical. It’s a veteran label but they’re not afraid to work with new artists and explore new concepts like Kindisch, Africa Get Physical, and Body Language. Despite having a classic catalogue with MANDY, DJ T, Samim, Booka Shade, and Modeselector generating significant revenue, they continue to invest in emerging talent such as Samantha Loveridge, Rockin Moroccin, Helsloot, and Thandi Draai, thinking outside the box.

Chris Nhii does an amazing job with his Brooklyn-based label Sounds of Khemit. They stay true to their organic house roots. But their music is always funky, fun, and ready to rock the dancefloor. I also make sure to check out every new release by Sol Selectas, 3000 Grad, Stil vor Talent, and Songuara.

Anything else you want to mention before we go?

Many people are intimidated by the current state of the music industry, with an overwhelming amount of music being released daily. However, as an artist or record label, don’t be discouraged. Continue believing in your craft and releasing quality music. Regardless of whether a track receives 100 plays or 100,000,000, its quality remains unchanged. Stay committed, and eventually you’ll achieve success. And don’t forget to have fun! Moreover, there’s still a lack of recognition and attention for female/non-binary musicians and producers. I urge every label boss reading this to sign more non-male artists.