Father-daughter duo want to open musical doors in Arkansas

Goal of local label is love for all kinds of artists

Raquel Thompson poses for a portrait, Monday, February 13, 2023 at the CACHE studios in Bentonville. Visit nwaonline.com/photos for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
Raquel Thompson poses for a portrait, Monday, February 13, 2023 at the CACHE studios in Bentonville. Visit nwaonline.com/photos for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

If there's one family in Northwest Arkansas that knows the music business, it's the Thompsons.

Raquel Thompson is CEO and founder of Love More Records, while Greg "G.T." Thompson is its chief operating officer. The two worked together on creating a music label to represent local artists in an equitable way, one that gives musicians and performers more autonomy while still receiving the professional guidance that would help them become successful in the industry.

The two aren't just business partners, they also happen to be father and daughter. Speaking frankly, Raquel admits that family dynamic is a huge part of what inspired her to be in the business herself.

"As a person who grew up in the industry, I've been around it since I was a literal baby, because my father has been a touring musician my whole life," Raquel Thompson says. "I've been exposed to the processes and how everything went from an early age."

G.T. Thompson spent years touring nationally with The 17th Floor, then went on to be music director and drummer for Usher, one of the most popular pop-R&B artists in recent years; afterward he became music director and drummer for TLC.

Being so deeply involved in the music industry meant that Raquel was well acquainted with all aspects of it, not just the glamour or fame of being on stage, on the front of album covers and magazines.

"I was exposed to the negative sides of the industry and how it can be predatory," Raquel Thompson says. "It can take advantage of people at times and use them so they don't get the advantages they thought they were going to get at the beginning."

Rather than continue to sit around and talk about the downsides with fellow artists, Raquel wanted to do something to change those trends.

"Some of those things she's seen in the past has been through the lens of my involvement in the industry," G.T. Thompson says. "I want to see her develop this new thing for the industry. I want to help her create that ... of just totally blowing up the current music situation and the relationship between label and artist and come up with something new."

Love More Records officially launched in June 2022 with the help of CACHE, the Creative Arkansas Community Hub and Exchange, for a launch party and studio space for their recording artists. Currently the music label represents Pura Coco, BAANG, Lil Yei, Sarah Lily and H3ad Cannon, all of which are Arkansas-based talent.


If Love More had to sum up their services in a single phrase, it'd be "artist friendly." Each one has full say in what Raquel and G.T. do for them, as the duo constantly invites their opinions and makes efforts to prioritize their mental health and well being.

"If we see them super freaking out on the side of the stage, we're like 'Hey, you good?' 'Do we need to update things or figure things out?'" Raquel Thompson says. "That's what we're pushing for."

There were many times in G.T.'s early career that a music label put the artist at a disadvantage, often through a lack of transparency on financial matters, whether that's by not being upfront about how the money would be spent or where it would ultimately go.

"By giving you these advances, everything is recoupable ... and sometimes they don't say that, they just spend it," G.T. Thompson says. Everything spent on an artist at a major label has to be paid back -- the expenses for music videos, cars, rentals, clothes, watches, you name it.

"A lot of times, your favorite artists, who look super wealthy and rich, are broke," Raquel Thompson says. "They don't see a lot of that money. At the end of the day, it's going back to the label."

More often what young or new-to-the-industry musicians are apt to do these days is to swing too far the other direction. Recording software, social media and music sharing platforms make for a siren song for a seemingly easy enough do-it-yourself introduction to becoming a well-known performing artist without the hassle of the many things that you might experience at a big record company.

"That's just the opposite, but it's bad on both ends," G.T. Thompson says. "What Love More does is meet in the middle. We function as an independent label, self-funded ... We want these artists to grow with us and create the story together and figure out exactly how to make this thing work."

For now, Love More doesn't have any additional funders or sponsors, which gives the Thompsons the freedom to run the music label the way that they've always wanted.

Raquel and G.T. found their first five artists by conducting their research throughout the state of Arkansas and along its edges -- going to lots of shows, reading music news and keeping an eye out for folks in the music scene. They met with lots and lots of artists, talking with them about their needs and offering them the extra support.

Most surprising to them was that despite having high quality music and performances, the movement behind them in terms of streams and activity online was relatively low, often bringing in less than 500 followers or listeners.

"It was like 'Oh man, we've got to change that because it's so good,'" G.T. says. The music label helps the artist with booking gigs, distribution, the recording process, songwriting sessions, artist collaboration, publicity, development, help touring and whatever else they need, the pair says.

They tend to ask the artist what they need in that moment. If the answer is a music video, they go about the business of how that's going to get done. If it's a gig, they use partnerships to help get them on stage. Then they turn around and help with the marketing magic, all the promotion and all the strategizing that goes behind it.

"Everything we do has an angle, it's detailed and calculated," Raquel Thompson says. In this DIY music industry, an artist might think they're going to record a song, put a cute little cover on it and release it into the world via Spotify, then find themselves wondering why they received zero exposure or feedback. "We have a full-scope plan for how to do a rollout, how they're going to expose a song initially, how to get all the crowd interaction ... whether it's a single or a full-scale album, different things make it successful. You have to have a plan. You can't just put it out there and hope for the best."

Since connecting with them, Coco opened for Japanese Breakfast, while BAANG opened Big Boi and Run the Jewels. The opportunities with national acts both took place at the Momentary. Some of their artists have had shows in other states, and most are currently working on new music set to release in late spring and early summer.

"We're starting to see a build," G.T. Thompson says. "These artists just fit right in. Those shows out of state, they went in and killed it representing Arkansas."


What makes Love More Records an even more ambitious undertaking is the fact that its founder is still in college. Raquel is a senior marketing major at the University of Arkansas, where she's also involved with the student-run music label Hill Records.

The past few years on campus have expanded her knowledge of music history and the legal aspects of the music business, but she's been getting paid gigs as a DJ for years, says G.T. School has enhanced the information she's picked up between DJ'ing middle school dances, hearing stories over the dinner table of his work and getting her feet wet with event promotion as she grew up at his side.

Raquel got so much experience as a child that the two can't agree what her technical first gig was. Raquel remembers a certain end-of-the-week celebration for Fire Prevention Week being the very first paid gig she got at the ripe old age of 11. She learned how to mix with a DJ app and an iPad and that early event taught her that electronic music wasn't as mainstream as she thought, so she stuck to more top 40 stuff until she was older and could find an audience that appreciated what she liked most.

But for G.T., he'll never forget her taking over a certain Susan G. Komen race in Little Rock. He was working for the city at the time and emceeing the event that day when an obstruction caused a backlog of runners to pool in front of the stage he was sharing with Raquel.

"I'm trying to talk and promote and all this stuff, so Raquel played the music for me," he says. "I'm thinking I'll have to tell her every song to play, but next thing I know, she's got this group of people, thousands of people in pink, just dancing and having a good time. I was like 'Whoa, wait a minute, what's going on here?'"

Growing up in the Thompson household meant music was ingrained in everyday life. Raquel was played calming music while in the womb and entered the world to the song "Isn't She Lovely?" Going to G.T.'s family reunion can sometimes mean hearing her relatives burst into random, albeit perfect, harmonies, and her little brother is a multi-talented artist of his own who hopes to secure a place at Love More Records as a rapper one day.

They never discriminated with their music tastes. What Raquel and her brother listened to had quite the range -- the Beatles, Korn, Coldplay, Fleetwood Mac all got the same air time. That makes sense when you look at the range of artists they represent now, with Reggaeton, hyper pop and alternative rap. The diversity of the music allows them to be more creative.

"The goal is just love, at the end of the day," Raquel Thompson says. "Love for people and the quirks we all possess, and that includes all kinds of music and welcoming all kinds of artists.

"That's the reason we wanted to do that, to hear the different perspectives."


Love More Records

Find out more at lovemorerecords.com.

  photo  Raquel Thompson poses for a portrait, Monday, February 13, 2023 at the CACHE studios in Bentonville. Visit nwaonline.com/photos for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)


Love More Records

Find out more at lovemorerecords.com.


  photo  Raquel Thompson poses for a portrait, Monday, February 13, 2023 at the CACHE studios in Bentonville. Visit nwaonline.com/photos for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)

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