Black-owned, Richmond music label aims to diversify industry

Misha Davis and Des Newman, owners of Siren Vibes Records, seek to change the music industry by creating an inclusive environment for Black women. Photo by Wessam Hazaymeh

Anna Parada, Contributing Writer

When people hear the name Siren Vibes Records, owners Des Newman and Misha Davis want heads to turn.

The new record label currently features artists from Richmond, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia, and it was created with the intention of making the music industry a more inclusive environment, the owners said.

“Not only are we women, but we’re Black women,” Newman said. “There is no glass ceiling. Women deserve a seat at the table.”

The label launched last October but went public in January, said Newman, the group’s CEO. She invited Davis, a friend she connected with over music, to be a part of the team.

“Growing up, I always went to concerts, and I always thought ‘How can I be a part of something so great?’” said Davis, the label’s creative and artist development executive.

The original goal was to change the role of record labels, which typically work behind the scenes in the music industry. Davis’ role also helps develop new artists. She is dedicated to providing each artist new outlets for their skills and growth, Davis said.

“I am connected to all of our artists with knowing that each and every one of them are different,” Davis said.

Newman, who worked as an artist manager for two years before Siren Vibes Records’ creation, said the label aims to take small artists and prepare them for a job in a music industry that’s difficult to navigate.  

“The artists may not be developed enough to understand the business and they get signed to these major labels,” Newman said. “Nobody is giving them good direction.” 

The label currently has three artists on its roster — Jehmilaa of Northern Virginia, Montro Hefner of Richmond and Big Holly of Washington, D.C. 

“Being able to work with our artists hands on and being able to develop them is super amazing,” Davis said. 

Jehmilaa anticipates new music to drop this summer, including an EP, the lead single of which is set to release in June. Montro Hefner is releasing an album called “Going Hollywood” on April 22.

Richmond is a secondary market for music, Newman said. Part of the mission of Siren Vibes Records is to put Richmond on the map and have other big labels pay attention to who’s coming out of the area. 

“This is Virginia, this is the new sound, this is the future,” Newman said.

The currently signed artists are regional, but Newman and Davis said they want to branch out to major music hubs, such as New York City, Chicago or Los Angeles to bridge the gap.

The owners have high hopes for live shows when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, but for now they stream performances on Twitch. 

“I honestly feel like people want to be entertained even more now with having to be home,” Newman said.

The record label expects to reach out to other bigger artists from the mid-Atlantic region in the near future. The label plans to travel to different cities within the next few weeks, hoping to expand its network and create long-lasting connections that will take the name to the next level. 

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