Time to pose a question – did Ears To The House get it wrong on Sondela?

Those of you who read this site will be well aware that we’re not afraid to call things exactly as we see them. Ears To The House doesn’t shy away from asking the questions no one else will, even when they’re difficult – and we never will.

Having said that, probably the only people we hold to higher standards than everyone else is ourselves – which is why we’ve been thinking again about some of our past articles. And it’s led to us asking whether we got it right or wrong on Defected empire sub-label Sondela.

The afro-house label was launched by Defected early in 2021 after they held a few events early in the previous year. But this wasn’t originally the plan – our sources have told us Defected was planning on launching Sondela towards the summer of 2020, but uncertainties caused by pandemic restrictions forced a delay of several months.

We were quite critical at times of the label, questioning how much focus Defected were giving it and the lack of full time leadership at Sondela’s helm. But as 2022 went on and pandemic restrictions were unceremoniously binned en masse, Sondela started to shine more in its own right. And what was the reason?

To quote Harold Macmillan, “events, my dear boy, events”. Defected is not a record label anymore in the traditional sense – it ceased being that over a decade ago. Nowadays, Defected is an events company which happens to have a record label attached – the events drive the label, the artists on the label drive the events and so on.

Sondela hasn’t previously been able to take advantage of the business model due to the events business effectively being on hold – but 2022 finally allowed Defected to showcase its newest sibling to the world. And we’re not afraid to admit it – this celebratory Instagram post by former Defected boss Simon Dunmore got us thinking…

Dunmore’s long-held strategy of playing the long game seems to have paid off yet again – and Ears To The House is pleased to see it. The only question now is whether Wez Saunders, the new boss of the Defected behemoth, will keep to this strategy – or will a more commercial mindset start to seep in during 2023? Only time will tell…

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