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Derby's Tom Rose on a life filled with music
By Oliver Claxton
BBC Blast Introducing reporter

Tom Rose
Tom Rose's Reveal Records was recognised with a prestigious Music Week award

Tom Rose is a man Derby music fans are more than likely to recognise.

If you bought any music in Derby between 1999 and 2006 it's highly likely you got it from his hugely popular Reveal Records store.

The speed with which Reveal Records shop became popular took Tom by surprise.

He said: We started off just offering independently distributed music on vinyl and CD and weird and wonderful stuff which no one else had.

"As our customer base increased rapidly and the punters wanted all sorts of music…Reveal just grew and we opened upstairs too and then moved to a larger shop in 2004/5."

It was in the same year as the move to St. Peters Street store that Reveal was awarded the 'Best UK Independent Music Retailer' accolade at the Music Week Awards.

Maximo Park
Maximo Park attracted a big crowd for their in-store gig

The reputation of the store was cemented by in-store performances from artists like Seth Lakeman, Brendan Benson and Maximo Park.

But despite the huge popularity of the store, which at its "peak in 2005/6 we had loads of staff working in the store, over three floors selling just about every conceivable genre of music both online and in store", the decline of CD sales more generally lead Tom to rethink his situation.

The decision was made to close the shop for good was made in 2007, before the choice was taken out of his hands.

Richard Hawley
Richard Hawley busks outside the shop on St Peter's Street

He said: "I am glad we were able to get out of retail the way we did, all the staff and customers were given lots of notice of our intention to close, staff found new work.

"I could pay all the suppliers in full etc so when we did close there were no debts owing or people unemployed.

"Personally, I just needed to do something more flexible as I had a young family that I wasn't seeing enough of when I was running a shop".

But it wasn't the end of Tom's involvement in music or indeed the name Reveal.

Although the shop shut its doors for the last time in 2008, Tom has found further success in the music industry.

Tom chose instead to focus his attention on a record label. While his shop had been popular, he had "released a couple of local singles".

The record label Reveal started years before though, when Tom put out a "short run 7 inch single for an arty Derby/Nottingham lo-fi band called Johnny Domino in about 1996 (I think it was), that was certainly the start of the name Reveal and the label"

However, it was a number of years then until Tom was inspired to really concentrate on setting up his own record label.

Joan As Police Woman
Joan As Police Woman is the most well-known act associated with the Reveal label

Under the same name as his popular record shop, Tom founded Reveal Records the label after seeing Joan as Police Woman support Rufus Wainwright in 2005.

He said: "Her performance just changed my life. I couldn't believe this amazing artist didn't even have a record deal yet and was touting her CD at the interval herself, so after emailing Joan and selling a few boxes of her CD e.p. in the store in Derby, I decided to offer to set up a label properly and get her music out to more people".

This proved a very fruitful relationship, Reveal Records and Joan as Police Woman's debut album, Real Life, was certified silver in Europe, and three years later, was chosen as one of The Word Magazine's 'Albums of The Decade'.

Joan as Police Woman has put out a further two records on the label receiving equal amounts of critical praise.

Further success was found in the shape of Kris Drever, who upon Reveal's release of his debut Black Water won the Horizon Award at 2007's BBC Folk Awards for Best New Artist.

Tom and Kris Drever's working relationship continued when Tom took up managerial duties of Kris's band Lau with incredibly successful results.

Lau perform at the BBC Folk Awards after winning Best Group in 2010

The Edinburgh based band have not only released highly praised 2007 record Lightweights and Gentlemen on Tom's label but won 3 successive BBC Radio 2's Folk Award for Best Group three years running (2008, 2009, 2010).

Reveal Records Label has gone from strength to strength too, ending 2009 with a double nomination in the Swedish Grammi awards for latest signing A Camp, fronted by former Cardigans front woman Nina Persson.

Recently Tom has begun consulting for Navigator Records, a label whose roster he used, adding to his own selection of Reveal signed bands when preparing a 30-track mix tape for The Independent's website which was downloaded more than 40,000 times.

Currently Tom is promoting and booking events for Nottingham's The Glee Club.

The venue already puts on comedians like Rich Hall and Mock the Week's Andy Parsons but Tom has been planning specialist music shows and is looking forward to Lloyd Cole's Small Ensemble on 29 October.

He said: "Lloyd's one of this countries finest songwriters and his new album "Broken Record" features Joan As Policewoman and is produced by Dave Derby from the Reveal label, so it's a perfect fit as an opening music show for me at The Glee Club".

So whilst Derby's music fans may miss Reveal Records store- fans of the shop still get in touch through email and Facebook - the decision has allowed Tom to achieve further success in the music business, something he is clearly proud of.

And long may it continue.

Oliver Claxton

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