by: Melisa Yuriar
April 8, 2022
For more than six years, electronic music label Quality Goods Records (QGR) has been led by UZ artist and co-founder Mouna Dif, who has shaped the imprint’s vast reach and diverse talent. Under Mouna’s leadership as COO and Artist Manager, QGR launched the careers of some of dance music’s most esteemed artists, including Rome In Silver, ATLiens, Oski, Nitti Gritti and Jon Casey. On March 31, QGR announced a merger and distribution deal with Universal Music Group/Virgin Music Artist & Label Services; Dif was the main driver. “Quality Goods Records is all about nurturing the next most cutting-edge artists of our generation in electronic music, no matter how big their sphere of influence, social media numbers, their country of origin, the presence of the digital streaming platform, or whether they are actively touring or not. It was all about music and taking risks. On this day, I am happy that we stuck to our guns from the start and never strayed from the vision UZ and I had for QGR,” she said.
With the support of Virgin Music, the team will continue to expand their reach and roster, focusing on upcoming artists and bringing them further into the spotlight. With access to additional resources provided by UMG, QGR intends to advance artist development, streamline larger releases and projects, and continue to expand its sonic reach, with a focus on on singers and songwriters in particular. “I plan to be deeply involved on the A&R side with UZ. Finding powerful vocalists and songwriters to really amp up the level of every song. I’m excited to use my background and lozenge as a songwriter -performer to organize these releases. And UMG/Virgin Music will certainly help facilitate this process as well with their large and diverse roster in the world of pop and rap,” said Dif.
Driving force behind the acquisition, Mouna Dif, an independent artist who has become an independent artist-manager and head of a label, deserves a look as an influential woman in the electronics industry. The daughter of an Algerian father and a British mother, Dif never wanted to be the singer for the label and the QGR brand, but alas, after two decades of triumphs, trials and tribulations in music, she established herself as a revered industry veteran and pioneering woman at the helm of an independent label.
In the early 2000s, Dif was a singer-songwriter performing under the name Moona in France. Exploring electronic hip-hop with her friends in the city by night and studying architecture and photography by day, it was during this part of her life that she forged her character, learned to develop an artistic vision and ultimately honed his unwavering determination to find success in the music industry. “I was never a traditional learner. I like to test things and experience the results for myself, to be analytical of those results. I’ve never been afraid to ask for anything either. My first-hand experience as an independent artist, like booking shows, releasing my own music, as well as promoting everything, has really helped me and shaped my abilities to do the best job possible as a artist manager and head of a label,” she said.
From 2002 to the early 2010s, Moona continued to perform in a live acid-jazz band (Moon and the Funky Satellites), working with French duo Walter Sobcek, German nu-disco band Les Loups, Anoraak (which she now manages), Foreign Beggars, and future QGR founder turned label partner DJ Troubl aka UZ. The couple met on a fateful night in Strasbourg, France in 2009, Mouna responded in a 2020 interview with noisprn. His best friend was an active electronic music and hip-hop promoter who had booked two-time world champion DMC, as well as French rapper-graffiti Grems, for a live event. During the event, the two connected; they would keep in touch and over the next few years Dif would become increasingly involved and challenged by the business side of the industry.
Like many independent artists, Moona’s foray into the industry would be plagued with ups and downs. After seeing the success of several singles, gaining support from Diplo through her “Diplo & Friends BBC Radio Show”, and placing an original composition in the title track of a popular children’s show (for which she was never credited or paid), Dif was frustrated. by the limited possibilities for an indie-electronic artist with a small team. “Only a few artists were successful back then with few managers, plus labels and marketing teams to back them up. The possibilities were pretty limited unless you had a big team around you. pushed at a time in my career as an artist to reconsider my goals and explore other avenues while remaining immersed in my passion, music. I simply wanted to help artists so that they don’t make the same mistakes. than me,” Dif said.
In 2014, she was approached with an offer to become UZ’s tour manager, handling day-to-day logistics and “set stuff”. Soon after, she would become the artist’s full-time manager and label partner QGR. “I’m grateful to UZ for believing in me and giving me the benefit of the doubt. Trusting me with his plans and his overall vision not only for his career but also for the future of QGR. We’ve known each other for over 13 years now, and we’ve always been driven by the same passion and vision for music as a whole. It’s always allowed me to follow my instincts and trust my insight and my decisions from the beginning until now.
For Dif, having an inclusive roster and a diverse team working alongside him has always been an essential part of his work with QGR and its international team of artists and partners. “Diversity is wealth because of the valuable knowledge it brings, allowing you to see the endless possibilities the world has to offer from the rich and timeless art and music it contains. It’s very important for me to highlight artists from all over the world because everyone’s vision is different. Their own creative process is very inspired by traditional tones and emotions. Their culture, their perception of life and their personal experiences in general are which makes the project beautifully original in a scene where artists are often included in mainstream trends,” said Dif.
However, since its founding in 2016, Quality Goods Records’ roster has signed fewer than three percent women or artists who identify with its label. When asked if she expected that percentage to change in the future, Dif noted that there is “still a lot of work to do within the electronic music community.” “For there to be change, there must also be equal representation of women in the leadership of the industry. We need more female managers, engineers, booking agents, label managers, and more. And as long as we continue to stand up and push for change, we will all see more and more women and women-identifying artists join this industry,” she said.
Of course, the new partnership with Virgin Music and UMG represents a great opportunity for growth and change for the label. With Dif spearheading this new acquisition and planned efforts, rest assured that the next chapter of QGR will be scalable. “We are inspired by the music we receive and discover daily, and want to share it with the world. It’s all about the music and whether we vibe with it, not what subgenre it is or how it would be labeled,” Dif said. “We have some great releases planned for the coming months: D&B, wave, rap, house and trap! And with UMG’s support, we feel more comfortable and excited than ever to explore these new paths.
Featured Image: Diane Sagnier
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