Lavatory Records: Identity is more than just a name

Lavatory Records

In recent times and since the inception of Lavatory Records, many have been particularly intrigued by the choice of name that is “Lavatory Records“. Self-admittedly, when choosing this name – I fully was aware of the “shock factor” it would induce upon people hearing or seeing it. One of the reasons I liked the name,  was the “in your face” factor it carried. The name was coined around 2005/ 2006, my understanding of branding at the time was that a good brand has the ability to stay in peoples’ minds. This was when I was just cutting my teeth as a rapper, and had hardly come up with an alias for myself. Now we are in 2015, the question is – why did I choose to KEEP the name Lavatory Records?

If one looks at the time that I had initially thought of the name, the music recording industry was in terminal decline whereas the internet revolution was now in full force. The profit margins had been dwindling, and album sales and revenue were also plummeting. A dismal business performance is usually described as “having gone down the toilet”. As a business graduate, what sparked my curiosity concerning the internet was the ignorance of music company executives about its impact; and their attitude of rather shifting resources into legal battles that didn’t solve the problem. I had also found that the industry I loved so much was truly headed “down the toilet”, because business administrators were guilt-tripping consumers into parting with their money due to their own lack of business planning for the future. It was a wake-up call that the industry waters had clearly become “murky” (sewerage like) and a clean-up job had to be done.

What I find quite alarming is that it’s not the “left-brained” business professionals who question the choice of name. It is the analytical professionals who are logical and deductive in thinking, who get that there’s a reason behind the name. Normally they ask why I went with the name Lavatory Records and just let out a chuckle because they see the humorous side of it. They don’t take it too seriously or see it as egregious for a person in the creative industry to exercise their poetic license. To my surprise, it’s been my fellow “right-brained” colleagues who have asked in a rather condescending manner, as to why I named the company Lavatory Records.

Lavatory Records

Let’s get into industry jargon and align it with symbolism, given that Lavatory Records is not a traditional record label but a solutions-for-artists organisation. First of all, the lavatory is not just the “toilet”, it is the WHOLE ROOM, including the sink and any complementary accessory found within that space. Lavatory Records tries to give everything (solutions) to artists. We add value but also know our limits and that’s when we then outsource or refer to key strategic partners. Entertainment by way of live performances usually takes place in a dome-shaped arena or stadia (the Coca Cola Dome, Standard Bank Arena anyone?). These arenas are usually called “bowls”.

Lavatory Records

The Stadium Bowl in Tacoma, Washington

Compared to other rooms in the house, the entire room known as the lavatory is a relatively complicated structure. Think of all the work that goes into this intricate room and the importance of it to any building structure. This is similar to artistry and entertainment – pipelines in media content, aided with technological inter-connectivity! The lavatory is also known as the “out house”, and what gets put “out” in the arts and entertainment is film or musical productions, music albums, paintings, publications, press releases etc.

Lavatory Records

Let’s not forget the popular euphemism associated with the use of a lavatory, that is, to “do your business”. Lavatory Record’s main focus is to help artists with business support and administration. Those who are parents will also know that one of the most emancipating early life achievements in the business of parent-hood, is when their precious little one is potty trained. This is no doubt one of the first steps of independence children learn. So now the question is:  Does what we do as a business make our name? Or does the name of the business make us any less “professional”? Is plumbing not a profession? Yes, it may be a “messy” one, but it sure helps you get your sh*t (pun intended) in order! To paraphrase the Ghost-busters theme song, “when something stinks and the water-flow is blocked… Who do you call…?” A plumber! So ultimately, what’s in a name?

Lavatory Records

Nobody seems to remember that the Virgin group of companies started as Virgin Records, before it transitioned to the businesses that we’ve come to know today. Let’s be real now, the term “virgin” is most likely to be associated to its sexual connotation upon initially hearing it. It’s only after years of hearing and seeing the company name that the taboo element of it can be overlooked, and when mentioned now one thinks of the owner and founder, Richard Branson. Apple is a technology company named after a fruit for one. Does this name even remotely give you a hint of what this company does? But I bet you Steve Jobs had his reasons for the name. The industry has seen so many suspicious company names such as Death Row Records, Murder Incorporated and Bad Boy Records just to name a few; but did all these labels not produce some of the most iconic artists and classic records, resulting in platinum plaques to their names?

Lavatory Records

Moral of the story is, your reputation precedes your name when it comes to business. This means you are ultimately judged by your actions. The bottom-line (no pun intended) Lavatory Records will stay Lavatory Records! One can’t undo their identity and genetics. The name embodies our experiences that no matter what we face, we will flush it down!

Thato Keikelame.

Founder and MD of Lavatory Records

Lavatory Records

Thato Keikelame (Founder and MD of Lavatory Records)

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