2020 was tough for many businesses as the COVID-19 pandemic became widespread. With everyone trying to adapt to the changes, people had to move their businesses online, and many regulations like travel bans and social distancing were put in place to curb the further spread. Among those greatly affected was the music industry losing considerable sums in revenue, especially when live performances were canceled.
Two years in, the world is slowly starting to open with many of these regulations lifted. Cafe De Anatolia, a leading independent music label, shares with us how COVID affected their business and how they have managed to thrive amidst the pandemic.
Cafe De Anatolia is a European-based record label founded by Zoran Iliev, also known as Billy Esteban, Monika Ilieva and Nikola Iliev aka Nickarth & Rialians On Earth. Brought together by their love for electronic music, they wanted to empower and support young talents in the industry, and so started their own label.
Cafe De Anatolia has produced and promoted several tracks helping artists grow their fan base and establish their spot in the industry. They have worked with various artists, including names such as Tebra, Rodrigo Gallardo, Nadav Dagon, Rialians On Earth, Jad Halal, Andre Soueid, Ghenwa Nemnom, Boudi Hamad, Special K, Manuel Defil, DJ Brahms, Dominique Zuniga, Billy Esteban, Clive Vaz, Veytik, Stephane Salerno and many more.
According to Nickarth, before the pandemic struck, they were planning a mega-festival that was set to happen in May 2020. They were also preparing for their residency in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Dubai to promote their artists and help other electronic music DJ’s and producers in those countries.
"In March 2020 I participated in a seminar in Munich, Germany. Whilst being there, the world had first cases of the pandemic. It was still unbelievable to make assumptions about what will happen in the following 8 months. When I came back, I saw the airport full with people going back home and I realized that this is really happening.
The same night I came back, 3 event managers called me and canceled everything till September 2020. The next morning was even worse as we had a meeting in Cafe De Anatolia's office and we decided to cancel the festival that we wanted to organize at the end of May.
Since then we still work remotely. After the first lockdown, all CDA's events were canceled for 2020.
This was not something that any promoter, label owner or artist would want to happen but the world was silent and we had to endure.
I always say to myself - "Adapt and survive".
It was a tough time for us as a record company but also was an opportunity to grow and work on our online community. "– says Nickarth.
However, they were forced to cancel most of the plans due to the pandemic and move their operations online. Billy Esteban, who is also Cafe De Anatolia’s resident DJ and artist, explains that with the cancellation of many live events, they had no platforms to play their music. This forced them to start thinking outside the box and come up with creative, new solutions.
Cafe De Anatolia began working more on their online brand, making sure to upload engaging content every single day. This helped them build a solid online community, with their songs gaining millions of views. Cafe De Anatolia owns 15 YouTube channels to post the music mixes and tracks they have worked on with other artists. They have won several awards, including getting Silver YouTube creator awards on eight of their channels.
They have also expanded their record label by investing in digital assets and creators. Monika Ilieva notes that they have added eight people to their team, helping them promote music and create a strong brand. This has given them the much-needed support to grow their online presence.
Cafe De Anatolia has worked with various companies, including Halkbank, helping them release an album. They were part of Halkbank’s promo campaign entitled Halk Cafe. The opportunity helped them grow their brand even further, and as stated by Rialians On Earth, they gained over 1,000,000 fans on all platforms since the start of the pandemic.
As the first quarter of 2022 comes to an end and the world has started opening up again, many businesses are also starting to pick up. The team at Cafe De Anatolia says their goal in the coming months is to expand their venture, helping more artists. They have signed many great artists such as NU, Armen Miran, Felix Raphael, Jose Solano, Jerry Spoon, IV-IN, Ravestronauts, Zuma Dionys, Savage & Shē, Zuma Dionys, Stone Submarines, Ivailo Blagoev and many more for the last two years.