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Rise Music

Rise Music, an independent record retailer based in Bristol, Worcester and Cheltenham, use our on board Wi-Fi to do business. While travelling around our network between stores, MD and co-founder, Lawrence Montgomery, can plan his next in-store gig, order stock, update the website and liaise with suppliers.

“Being able to be connected on the train is really important because the record industry is always moving full pelt.”

An interview with Lawrence Montgomery, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Rise Music.

Who are you?
My name’s Lawrence Montgomery, I'm 27, I was born in Glasgow but I've lived in Bristol for the last ten years and I'm the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Rise.

What are your passions in life?
Well music is one of my main passions. I collect records myself, although with having the shop, I don’t buy as many albums as I should because I always think of the shop almost as my own sort of collection. I may have a few hundred really, but I try and just have albums that I find really important to me. I like going to gigs a lot.

Is getting the work/ life balance difficult?
Yeah definitely. It is difficult to separate it. [I’d] still be ‘Oh we could do this better, we could do that’. Like, we had a girl called Julie Holter, she was one of my favourite albums two years ago and she played in the store, it was a massive coup to get her. You couldn’t fit any more people in the shop, and it was brilliant but it was very difficult for me to enjoy it. I was listening to it and thinking ‘Oh no is something going to go wrong with the sound.’

What’s a typical working day?
I try every morning to get up early just clear down emails in the morning and make sure orders are placed by 12 o'clock. I try to be freer in the afternoon, so whether that's going in to the store to be able to speak to the staff or going to another store, whether it's Worcester or Cheltenham or going to meet a supplier. Then there's always things that just get thrown in. I suppose that’s part of the charm of the shop.

Does it fulfil you?
It can be incredibly fulfilling in the store. I mean, the best moment of the business probably was when we had Edwyn Collins play in the shop and he’d suffered from a really bad stroke a couple of years previously, and he'd brought a new album out. The shop was packed, it was completely sold out and to be able to see people’s reactions was really humbling.

How does your business use Great Western Railway?
Being able to be on the train and use the Wi-Fi whilst you’re travelling, generally between Bristol and London for meetings, is really helpful because it means that that hour and a half is not dead time.
You can still keep up to date with your work and you know you’re not, at the end of the day, coming back to 200 e-mails in your inbox and having to catch up. I can also check up on stock levels, reply to general e-mails and set up in stores and events. Being able to be connected on the train is really important because the record industry is always moving full-pelt.

How did Rise begin?
Rise started in 2007 in – our first store was in Cheltenham, which we still have seven and a half years later. Everything was £5, we just stripped it back to basics. It was so simple and so easy to run. It was quite a short term idea, we just wanted to open the store, and we had a six month lease and wanted to see how it went and the company has kind of snowballed from there really. Now, we’ve started to grow the business in other areas and in different formats. By diversifying, changing the offer, changing the focus and we’ve now got to the point that vinyl’s have become our biggest format. [Vinyl’s are] now selling more than CDs.

How is Rise more than just a record store? I think that the strength of the store is that it's many things to many people. There's so many things to tell the customer. We’re a bookshop, we have a vintage clothing concession, we have vinyl, we have CDs, we have DVDs, we have the café, we have events. Do the events make Rise quite unique as a store and music venue? We’re lucky we have the ability to put bands on in the store, and with the space we have. I always think that the gigs are our marketing, like for someone to be able to say “Oh Rise, that’s the shop I saw First Aid Kit, or I saw Mumford and Sons or Laura Marling”. We had The XX and 30 people turned up, it was our first ever in-store a few months after we’d opened.

What’s the music scene like in the west? Bristol has a great music scene. Portishead, Massive Attack, that kind of sound, which I think borrows from Bristol’s heritage. It’s always been big in terms of electronic music, hip hop. Five or six years ago it was big in terms of dub step, which ended up being a global phenomenon and a lot of that came out of Bristol. Also, he’s not originally from Bristol but George Ezra went to University in Bristol, and he’s massive now, even in America. He played here on Record Store Day last year and you couldn’t get anyone else in the store, it was just full of like his fans going wild, there’s a session of him on YouTube playing on a sofa from three and a half years ago and it’s got over a million plays, and he used to come in and buy lots of records from us. What’s great about Bristol is it never rests on its laurels and it’s always got something new and fresh going on.

Find out more at rise-music.co.uk

Rise Music

Address: Rise Bristol, 70 Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1QU
Phone: 0117 929 7511

Rise Cheltenham
Address: Unit 19, Beechwood Shopping Centre, Cheltenham, GL50 1DQ
Phone: 01242 228 515

Rise Worcester
C15B Chapel Walk, Crowngate Shopping Centre, Worcester, WR1 3LD
Phone: 01905 611273