It takes a lot to make it in the music business. Sure, you need musical ability and stage presence and, you know, talent. But you also need to know how to self-promote. You need an image.
That’s were Phantom City Records comes in. The Dallas-based record company wants to help develop local artists by giving them both brand recognition and recording studio time.
Chris Nicolaou, aka “Poofy Man,” a Dallas based hip-hop producer, founded Phantom City Records in March 2017. The company claims to be Dallas’s first music label created solely to serve and source the city's vibrant hip-hop community.
“Dallas has never been able to ... provide a legitimate business platform that’s been organized in such a way that it helps people in a synchronized mechanism on where they want to go,” Nicolaou says.
Phantom City is a by-appointment record service. As soon an artist walks in, staff members provide feedback on his or her music. After that, they offer a full-service packaging service.
Prices vary depending on services, which include logos, icons, promo brands and other brand-specific marketing assets. For recording sessions, hourly prices are $40 for a track session, $30 for mixing and $60 for mastering. Vocal coaches and writers are also available. Phantom City is currently working with Nick Nowell and Azziza Isis on their EP.
“What we’re trying to do is bring people in, see what their vibe is and what they want to do,” Nicolaou says.
Nicolaou, a graphic designer, says he has seen artists with no image who have a difficult time making it in the music industry.
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“A lot of artists in hip-hop, especially in Dallas, they don’t even know what they’re looking for and what they need,” Nicolaou says. “A lot people think it's just music, but unfortunately — it's sad, but I have to say this — music is 40 percent of it and 60 percent of it is ... how you present yourself, what’s your niche? Who are you targeting? What do you want to look like?”
Ladarrion Burton, better known as 7 Tha' Great, a Dallas-based hip-hop artist, is the face of the Phantom City. He has 10 years of experience in the Dallas music industry and is president and CEO of the company.
Burton says he joined the record label because he knew it was going to push his career further and he liked Niccolaou's mission.
“Phantom City Records is trying to become the first full-service record label in Dallas. That’s a big step as an artist to be a part of that,” Burton says.