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Free as in Netlabel

The proprietors of three established netlabels (Andras Hargitai of Complementary Distribution, Nathan Larson of Dark Winter, Pedro Leitao of Test Tube) discuss the cost of free downloads, the online community of uploaders and the transition from physical distribution to virtual

By Marc Weidenbaum

Come 2006, there are more than enough netlabels to fill even the most discerning of harddrives. A “netlabel” is a web-based distributor of music that charges nothing for the music it promotes. Though the concept seems to not only flout but upend conventional wisdom about how a record label functions, there are hundreds of these enterprising organizations around the globe, the significant majority of them focusing on electronic music.

Releases on netlabels are often the focus of the Downstream section of Disquiet.com, in which each weekday I recommend a free downloadable piece of music. From that Disquiet department’s beginning, in the fall of 2003, netlabels have been a major source of its material, including such destinations as 8bitrecs, Stasisfield, Kikapu and Monotonik.

To dig a little deeper into the subject, I ran a short-term discussion group earlier this year with the administrators of three exemplary netlabels. As with a previous Disquiet-based online discussion (“After ‘Thursday Afternoon,'” on the 20th anniversary of the Brian Eno album), the conversation transpired in private via an Internet-based forum, and what appears below is a transcription that was lightly edited after the dialog had reached its natural conclusion.

The participants were Andras Hargitai of Complementary Distribution (bitlabrecords.com/cod), based out of Budapest, Hungary; Nathan Larson of Dark Winter (darkwinter.com), based out of Minnetonka, Minnesota; and Pedro Leitao of Test Tube (monocromatica.com/netlabel), based out of Lisbon, Portugal.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, the discussion ranged from the theoretical to the practical, at times serving as a sounding board, at others as a technical support group, as Hargitai, Larson and Leitao discussed the cost of free downloads, the online community of uploaders and the transition from physical distribution to virtual.

Message: 01/56 From: Marc Weidenbaum/Disquiet.com Subject: greetings from San Francisco Hi, everyone. Greetings from San Francisco. All four of us are now signed up for this netlabel discussion group: Nathan from Dark Winter, Andras from Complementary Distribution and Pedro from Test Tube.

As I type this note, Nathan and my days in the U.S. are just getting going, and evening will soon be under way for Andras and Pedro, across the Atlantic. I hope that over the next week or so, this list becomes a place you look forward to checking in on, whether to post your thoughts, or to see those of your fellow discussants.

By way of introduction, though, let’s start off simply. Could you each introduce yourself, talk about when you started this netlabel of yours, what got you to launch it and what your biggest surprise has been in the process of running it?

Best,

Marc

Message: 02/56 From: Pedro Leitao/Test Tube Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Hi, everybody.

Since I’ve got some spare time to think and dissert about Marc’s questions and thoughts, I’ll make my first post now. Please, Marc and Nathan, try to ignore my grammar and/or semantic errors as I’m not native English speaker, but I’ll try at least to be understandable.

My name is Pedro Leitao, Portuguese, born in Porto (yes, region of the famous Port wine) but living in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, since 1995. I came to Lisbon to study architecture, and I was near to finishing it, but then I started hanging around with some artists, musicians and such, and my major was put aside when I decided to get into music publishing.

I started a “regular” label (I really don’t like very much to split them between “regular” or “web”-based — after a couple of years or more browsing the netlabel world, I found out that artistic quality or similar appreciations are exactly the same for both cases). I was saying: I founded the label in 2001, right after the beginning of the music-industry decline. People said I was crazy to do such a thing, but hell, I wanted to say something, to put out something new, something that made sense to me. After a couple of releases, I realized that 80 percent or more of the music that was arriving to the label as demos, was of the experimental kind, not likely mainstream material, not likely to sell enough to meet break-even, and pretty much impossible to make a profit on. So I “snatched” the netlabel concept from others into the label, turning a sub-label into a netlabel. At first the main goal was to deliver the raw and experimental material that was coming into the label, making it available, “testing” it out there, checking if it was artistically acceptable or not.

To my surprise, the feedback and download traffic after a few months was overwhelming. I realized that this was the beginning of something important, much bigger than I anticipated. When I started Test Tube, almost two years ago, there were two Portuguese-based netlabels, and today there are at least six or seven. Maybe this doesn’t look like much, but in my country, a country technologically 20 years behind the average European one, it means something. This netlabel thing is also starting to get to the attention of media people, newspapers, radio (with some local programs exclusively dedicated to netlabel music), and also TV. With the continuous growth of the MP3 market and industry, people are beginning to realize what it means to be a netlabel, what’s the cultural role of them, the freedom brought from the Internet into the creative minds of the musicians. Actually, some of the artists that started out on Test Tube are touring the country, playing live, got their works (published on Test Tube) reviewed in national newspapers and so on. Some started their own CDR labels, others started their own netlabels, others are putting out on the net immense archives of late-1980s and ’90s Portuguese live gigs, from bands that disappeared.

I believe that this is just the beginning. And I’m glad to be part of this, of something this new.

Peace,

Pedro

Message: 03/56 From: Andras Hargitai/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco My name is Andras Hargitai, and I live in Hungary, Budapest. To be precise, I live in the outskirts of it. Budapest is my native city as well. I am 21 years old. I am a DJ, producer, CDR label and netlabel owner. I study English literature, linguistics and aesthetics at P?zm?ny P?ter Catholic University in Piliscsaba, Hungary. I have also started the English teaching course as well. I launched my netlabel in September 2005, so it is pretty young. I was already familiar with netlabels at that time, and noticed that there was only one netlabel which had owners in Hungary. I was thinking about starting a netlabel to release more works I like, and finally in August a concept emerged in my mind about how the label would look like, what would be released there, etc.

I already owned a CDR label since April 2005, and I didn’t want to do something that is too far from or too close to my physical label, Bitlab. I was thinking about words and concepts for days. One day the definition of “complementary distribution” in linguistics crossed my mind: “Complementary distribution in linguistics refers to the relationship between two elements where one element can be found only in a particular environment and the other element can be found only in the opposite environment. It often indicates that two superficially different elements are in fact the same at a deeper level,” according to Wikipedia. I said it would be a bright idea to apply the rule in a way to solve my problem. So when Xrc and I finished working on Aprilis 6, I launched Complementary Distribution.

What was my surprise? Actually, I was amazed when Lomov decided to give my label a full-length. He was pretty helpful with that. I love his Cod album Trident, and I have listened to it billions of times. Actually, further things did not come as a surprise to me but they were of course positive. I mean, all the feedback, replies, the non-requested/requested links/references, reviews and so on. To put it bluntly, my biggest surprise in the process of running my netlabel is that I was chosen to be a participant of this discussion.

Best,

Andras

Message: 04/56 From: Nathan Larson/Dark Winter Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco My name is Nathan Larson, and I live in Minnetonka (just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota). I am originally from Duluth, Minnesota. I moved to the Twin Cities in 1998, and in 1999 I co-founded the Green House Music label. The label focused on atmospheric music and we released seven CDs by artists like Vir Unis, Alio Die and Antonio Testa. We had a good thing going but we still had to pitch in money for every release! So, in 2002 my partner decided to back out of the label for financial reasons and in the end GHM closed its doors for good.

At that time I still wanted to release new projects (including my own) so I went off on my own and created the Dark Winter label. I started the label as a CDR label and actually released the first five albums in CDR form. Things were very slow for me releasing CDRs and I found it difficult to get airplay and reviews in magazines because of the releases being “CDR.” A lot of people seem to have the idea that CDR releases are not as good as CD releases, or they are worried they might not work in their players. I was creating the releases on an “on demand” basis, to keep overhead low, but after awhile, the demand for promo copies and the amount of time and resources needed to make each disc started to wear on me. I wasn’t enjoying the process as much as I did with the GHM label. So I decided to convert to a net.label. It was so liberating! I was now not tied to financial obligations (other than server space) and I could expand as fast as wanted to. As soon as I converted to a net.label, people started downloading! That for me was the biggest excitement. The whole idea of having a label is to get the music out to people and with the MP3 releases the music was being listened to more than ever before!

There are a lot of net.labels out in the world these days and for Dark Winter I have tried to keep a consistent feel with the releases. I don’t want to be a label that releases every style of music. I would like to stay focused on dark ambient. I try to treat every MP3 release in the same way I did while working the GHM label. Quality is very important to me and I feel that the releases on Dark Winter are very consistent with this while still being very different and original. That is my goal with Dark Winter.

Best,

Nathan

Message: 05/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Thanks for the introductions. It’s interesting to me that you all had some experience moving from a “traditional” (physical world) label to a netlabel. Was that transition difficult to make?

Marc

Message: 06/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Marc wrote: > Thanks for the introductions. It’s interesting to > me that you all had some experience moving from a > “traditional” (physical world) label to a netlabel. > Was that transition difficult to make?

I think I didn’t really have to “move.” We’ve been doing lots of Internet promotion so far, most of the reviews of our releases are on the net, and there are less of them in newspapers or magazines. So, it was not really difficult in my case…

Nathan wrote: > Things were very slow for me releasing CDRs and I > found it difficult to get airplay and reviews in > magazines because of the releases being “CDR.” A > lot of people seem to have the idea that CDR > releases are not as good as CD releases, or they > are worried they might not work in their players. > I was creating the releases on an “on demand” > basis, to keep overhead low, but after awhile, > the demand for promo copies and the amount of > time and resources needed to make each disc > started to wear on me.

I really know what Nathan’s talking about. Releasing a CDR is obviously not an easy thing to do. We burn our releases ourselves and we check each release after burning, plus we have already met people who didn’t want to sell our releases and one reason for that was the CDR format. You can only keep it up after hard work and advanced calculations, but of course without good distribution it will be always much slower than releasing in the online format. I am familiar with the main disadvantages of CDR as well, like data loss after a while, and possible incompatibility with several CD players, but I believe that all formats have more or fewer disadvantages. A guy at Phonocake netlabel said once to my mate that he used to think of MP3 as the format which is almost perfect, but after a while he missed the limitations of a physical release, and that is what I miss as well: The case you hold in your hand, the disc you put into the player, the cover art you see on your table or bed or shelf or whatever. Consequently, it is not by accident that netlabels start to issue CDRs and DVD-Rs nowadays, like Pedro’s Test Tube label, or Monohm.

We need the physical existence of a release, that’s what I say, and I am happy about that.

Pedro has mentioned a process which can be seen as live events of his netlabel’s artists, the changing of the attitude of physical media, and so on. This is again a series of physical, real-life manifestations of a netlabel which is needed.

I also think that the promotion of an MP3 release is quite difficult! A netrelease’s URL is there in review pages, forums, groups, emails, and IM windows. But wait a sec, these are also online. Physical releases are in a shop or at a live event at least, in physical reality. That is a kind of promotion itself which a strictly online release would never have. Mainstream or non-mainstream physical releases are now officially available online, and they use online promotion as well. I think it is high time that netlabels started using physical promotion at least as many times as they can. Finally, I can only repeat myself now that it is really good to see those physical releases from netlabels.

I am really looking forward to reading your replies and other questions.

For me it’s really sleeping time here, so I’ll go to bed.

Best,

Andras

Message: 07/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Marc wrote: > Thanks for the introductions. It’s interesting to > me that you all had some experience moving from a > “traditional” (physical world) label to a netlabel. > Was that transition difficult to make?

Yeah, Marc, you’re right. But I didn’t put aside the physical label, although I know exactly what Nathan meant with his experience with his GHM label. I also had an associate who left the label, pursuing a different goal in his life. If it was difficult to pay for the releases before, it got even worse after he left. But the biggest difference between a physical label and a netlabel (and the biggest problem too) is without a doubt, the distribution. With a netlabel, you control your own distribution, of course, making it very easy and lifting a huge weight from your head.

Anyway, I don’t feel the “transition” that Marc pointed out. I just move from one to the other, and back. But there’s a big structural difference at present, because while I release one or two records a year on my label, I release between 20 and 30 on my netlabel. That’s like 15 times more!

Pedro

Message: 08/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco I agree with Pedro. I never felt a negative feeling with the transition. If anything I found myself enjoying the work once again! Now that the general attitude toward net.labels is improving it’s making it easier to get the material out there via radio play, podcasts, and e-zines.

While Dark Winter currently operates as a net.label, I do plan to release in other mediums in the future (CD, vinyl, etc.). I am not sure if I will create a new label or just release CDs on Dark Winter (can I call it a net.label then?). Even when I do return to making CDs, I will never be able to release the amount of projects I do today with the net.label. That’s why I will continue releasing in this format in the future.

Best,

Nathan

Message: 09/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Nathan wrote: > While Dark Winter currently operates as a > net.label, I do plan to release in other > mediums in the future (CD, vinyl, etc.). I am not > sure if I will create a new label or just release > CDs on Dark Winter (can I call it a net.label > then?). Even when I do return to making CDs, I > will never be able to release the amount of > projects I do today with the net.label. That’s > why I will continue releasing in this format in > the future.

I agree with Nathan. MP3 is very close to infinity. I thought of more simple things as well as physical stuff connected to netlabels. I am working on an EP now which will be out at 2063music, and that label’s owner mentioned that he finds extra graphic artwork attached to his netlabel’s releases more and more important. Q-Man, the owner of Zerinnerung DJ-mix netlabel, said to me that high resolution cover images have to be sent by the artists because many people would love to print them out.

These words directed me to the decision that I am going to ask my mate to design a flyer which announces the release of my EP at 2063music. It is needed here I think because many people don’t really accept netlabels, and in my opinion, one reason for that could be that they feel this online world is really far from them. So why not try putting some flyers of netlabel releases into record shops, cafes, and other venues? If you have ever done this before, I would be interested in the reactions.

Best,

Andras

Message: 10/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco I couldn’t agree with Andras more about the high quality images! That is one goal for me this year, to make formal printable album art for all Dark Winter releases. Right now I have them standardized, but the more and more I visit net.labels, the more I appreciate the level of detail that goes into the layout and design, especially coming from a CD label where layout was extremely important!

A newer label called Silence Is Not Empty is doing a great job, just a simple foldable sleeve template but it looks fantastic! Maybe he will let me borrow his template!

As for announcements, I haven’t done much more than post flyers and ads for local performances featuring Dark Winter artists. My link is always there on the flyer and I get them just about everywhere around town (record shops, coffee shops, etc). I can’t say if this has ever really helped though. I find that where I live, most people catch on to what’s going on after it’s a bigger thing elsewhere. During the GHM years, we sold more discs out of state and out of country than we ever did in Minnesota. After a while we did sell more locally, but it seemed that the Internet was more powerful than local promotions.

Best,

Nathan

Message: 11/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Nathan/Dark Winter wrote: > I agree with Pedro. I never felt a negative > feeling with the transition. If anything I found > myself enjoying the work once again! Now that the > general attitude toward net.labels is improving > it’s making it easier to get the material out > there via radio play, podcasts, and e-zines.

I was reading through your responses to my question about the “move” from physical to virtual — and how that transition hasn’t been an issue for you all. I wonder if it may be a matter of when, as much as if. The period I was reflecting on happened a decade ago, in 1996, when as an editor I switched from print to the web professionally. So much that felt new then now feels familiar, even ordinary. The ramifications of netlabels may be far-reaching, but the experience of participating them is more commonplace.

It’s ironic that as I type this, after a long day, the music I’m listening to is on a CD, of all things. Well, not on a CD, really — first thing I’ve done is ripped it to my hard drive, so I can listen to it easily on my MP3 player tomorrow. At that point the CD is just an archival object, though the liner notes are always helpful.

Dark Winter wrote: > A newer label called Silence is Not Empty is > doing a great job, just a simple foldable sleeve > template but it looks fantastic!

Thanks first off for recommending Silent Is Not Empty (silence-is-not-empty.com). I’ve never visited that site before. I’ll check it out immediately. Have you ever checked out the minusn.com netlabel? Some of its releases come with covers that move: small, square-format images that resemble the dimensions of a standard CD (or, I suppose, LP and single) release, but that are actually Flash animations that refute the idea of a static piece of jewel-case liner art. It’s an interesting parallel to the MP3 experience — saying, in effect, this is an inherently un-physical release.

Marc

Message: 12/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: hard or soft releases > Anyway, I don’t feel the “transition” that Marc > pointed out. I just move from one to the other, > and back. But there’s a big structural difference > at present, because while I release one or two > records a year on my label, I release between 20 > and 30 on my netlabel. That’s like 15 times more!

At the risk of dwelling on the subject of the distinction between hard and soft releases, could you talk a bit about one or two of your “physical” releases, and why those recordings got singled out for that sort of treatment, versus the ones that are straight MP3 releases?

Marc

Message: 13/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: promotion Andras Hargitai wrote: > It is needed here I think because many people > don’t really accept netlabels, and in my > opinion, one reason for that could be that > they feel this online world is really far > from them. So why not try putting some flyers > of netlabel releases into record shops, cafes, > and other venues? If you have ever done this > before, I would be interested in the reactions?

I like the idea of netlabel flyers — you could trade them, ship boxes to one another, and have them dropped off in countries other than your own.

So many labels, and websites in general, have little buttons that serve as a way to promote themselves on other sites — it’d be cool if labels provided downloadable files for flyers, and you could just print ’em at work, slice ’em up and drop ’em off at cafes.

Marc

Message: 14/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Andras Hargitai wrote: > These words directed me to the decision that > I am going to ask my mate to design a flyer > which announces the release of my EP at > 2063music. It is needed here I think because > many people don’t really accept netlabels, > and in my opinion, one reason for that could > be that they feel this online world is really > far from them. So why not try putting some > flyers of netlabel releases into record > shops, cafes, and other venues? If you have > ever done this before, I would be interested > in the reactions.

That’s a really good point. And an excellent idea, Andras.

Pedro.

Message: 15/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Dark Winter wrote: > I couldn’t agree with Andras more about the > high quality images! That is one goal for me > this year, to make formal printable album > art for all Dark Winter releases.

I want that too. I’m a very visual person, and artwork is a really important part in an audio release. This is one of the things that make me sad, in all this digitalization of music, the growing lack of good artwork. But I also plan to improve the artwork of Test Tube releases in the future, and like Nathan, a couple of physical releases on Test Tube are also planned.

Pedro.

Message: 16/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > I was reading through your responses to my > question about the “move” from physical to > virtual — and how that transition hasn’t > been an issue for you all. I wonder if it > may be a matter of when, as much as if. The > period I was reflecting on happened a > decade ago, in 1996, when as an editor I > switched from print to the web > professionally. So much that felt new then > now feels familiar, even ordinary. The > ramifications of netlabels may be > far-reaching, but the experience of > participating them is more commonplace.

Yeah, I know what you mean. CD is becoming more and more a thing of the past. Younger generations — and I have a 16-year-old kid at home… — don’t see CDs or vinyl records through the same eyes that we do. They want the music right away, as fast as they can, and in their minds, a physical medium is just an obstacle in their plans. They have to rip it out first, before they can use it on their iPods…

But even iPods are doomed. In a couple of years — or even less — cellphones will have all the capacity MP3 players now have, even if they won’t have 30gb hard drives. Why carry a cellphone and a media player when you can carry both things in one machine. Makes sense. CDs will become more and more audiophile objects, things of the past (even if the audio quality is better than the highest bitrate MP3). I carry on collecting CDs and vinyl, like I always did, but I have one question in my head that remains unanswered: Will my kids do anything with my audio collection in the future?

Pedro

Message: 17/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: hard or soft releases Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > At the risk of dwelling on the subject of > the distinction between hard and soft > releases, could you talk a bit about one > or two of your “physical” releases, and > why those recordings got singled out for > that sort of treatment, versus the ones > that are straight MP3 releases?

Sure, Marc.

Well, the first thing that makes me pick one format or the other is market acceptance. Meaning: It’s very difficult to invest money in a 100% experimental work that — without proper distribution — will be forgotten in most of the shelf spaces at record stores. And locally, the Portuguese experimental music market is very, very small… selling 100/150 copies of a release like Minus Pilots and Kenneth Kirschner, for instance, would be really great. And such small CD pressings are way too expensive to meet break-even. We would have to put a price tag abnormally high. I don’t want to do that. I think a digital release will find more public than a physical one, in those cases. I don’t care if I don’t make money in the process, that’s not at all the issue here.

The music I choose to release physically must have that “mainstream” feel, but without being really mainstream. Last year I licensed Nicolette’s latest album, Life Loves Us, for the Portuguese territory. Because she is kinda well known as one of the female precursors of trip-hop and breakbeat, I risked a CD release and I’m happy with it. Perhaps sales could have been better, but overall, they went OK. I got media coverage, reviews and everything, CDs are in the stores, and well, Nicolette is Nicolette. I loved the album, especially because it wasn’t that easy as the others. I like difficult music. Another example: Our latest release — which is going out next Monday, February 13 — is a classic 1960s pop album, made by a Portuguese guy. Sometimes I think, “What the hell am I doing, releasing experimental and instrumental electronica and classic pop records at the same time?” Some people might think that I’m mad or something… but it makes sense to me, because I love it all, the easy and the uneasy, the mainstream and the underground. This ’60s guy I’m about to release is all over the news lately, some people are already calling it best new act, one the best of 2006 and everything… Will that make me forget about what I’m doing with Test Tube? Fat chance. I need the other side of things, to feel complete — I don’t know.

As for the ones that go straight to MP3, well, actually I’m thinking of signing some of them to the physical label, because they have accomplished something important: a solid fan base. And that’s a pretty good reason to issue a record. Also, they are playing live and their music is really getting somewhere and they really have something new to say.

Hope that I made some sense.

Pedro

Message: 18/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Well, I don’t really like flashy-shiny design. I always feel that the music is lost somehow. That is why my netlabel is designed like that, it is close to zero in a way, and I wouldn’t like to standardize anything.

I always imagine my netlabel as a bookshelf in my room, with different books on it.

Nathan came up with an important topic, the simplicity or minimalism regarding artwork, consequently, regarding information. Just have a look at Quiet Zone, Top-40’s sublabel (I hope I’m correct with that statement): top-40.org/quietzone/quietzone.html.

When I extracted the first release, I found a 1181 x 1772 tif image among the files. There is no tracklist on the image, no artist info, nothing. What you can only see is some well-designed shades of blue. I really love this concept. Quiet and lovely ambient that makes me think and doesn’t bore me. The second release didn’t really touch me, though.

Best, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 19/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: promotion Nathan mentioned that they were not really successful with flyers. I completely understand that this is indeed is possible in my case. On many occasions we promote our parties, and we design, cut and distribute the flyers ourselves. What I would say here is that bright ideas and good distribution can save you. E.g. we had a party once and we named it Elektrodisko. So we collected many hundreds of old floppy disks and my mates stuck the minimal data (event’s name/address/djs/entry) on the disks’ labels. My mate designed refill cases as well, not letting the disks to form a hill with the other flyers, then we entered to the shops with all that stuff, and people were amazed. :) Another thing is to give the flyer to people’s hands as many times as you can. Many flyers are just dropped to the shelves of shops and other places, then they simply vanish in the crowd of flyers. But it is really hard to maintain the whole thing, I agree. A downloadble flyer is a good idea as well! You can do the promo stuff with the introduction of well-designed stickers, many people love them. The funniest and most clever thing I saw was a matchbox which promoted a Radioactive Man live show here. :)

Best, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 20/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: hard or soft releases Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > At the risk of dwelling on the subject of > the distinction between hard and soft > releases, could you talk a bit about one > or two of your “physical” releases, and > why those recordings got singled out for > that sort of treatment, versus the ones > that are straight MP3 releases?

My situation is a little bit different from what your question points to, so I am hoping I won’t talk kind of rubbish. :) I’ve read Pedro’s words and I completely understand what he feels with the ‘sides’. That is the same case with me. Firstly, we would not have started a label. I was talking with Cooler, a talented Hungarian producer many times in 2004 and 2005. I was working on the SG album L’etoiles Souriantes, wrote articles, and published email interviews. I could make an interview with ISAN as well, and luckily we were still emailing with each other after the interview was out. One day I asked him if they could do a remix of one of my almost-finished tracks which I showed to them.

To my greatest astonishment, they simply said yes. I was talking with another guy those days, he promised me that he would release it on vinyl, etc… Most of you are familiar with those ‘great promises’. :) Nothing happened, so I said to Cooler that why don’t we put out the whole stuff somehow. At that time we had a Cooler remix, and a HdjTom remix as well, and after some calculations and preparations we launched Bitlab. We still have some copies, but we receive good reviews and feedback, and I think that’s what I love in the whole thing… The whole Bitlab project and its feedback help us to “transmit” our emotions, as Tolstoj says. :) Why did we start a physical label? My answer is simple: Because we indeed wanted that. Because we love physical releases. Why did I launch a netlabel? Simply, I did it for the same reason regarding netlabels. :)

Pedro would love to sign some of his netlabel’s artists to his physical label and he has good reasons to do that. I don’t have any reason to think about that yet, but I am planning to release an audio-visual physical release at cod which would be a diskmag-like stuff with articles, but that is quite far from our present time, I think.

Best, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 21/56 From: Dark Winter Subject: Re: greetings from San Francisco Thanks for the links guys! I will check them out right away! That’s one thing I have noticed during my travels is that there is just sooo much music out there! What I mean, is there is such a lot of ‘good’ stuff out there and for free! I find myself constantly finding new labels, new music and I love it! It’s nice to see the artists grow as well, releasing work on other labels in other formats. I was a huge CD collector for many, many years until I moved to Minneapolis and I had to sell almost all of them to get by before I found a job. It was sad to see so much music that I had paid tons of money for leave. After that, I stopped buying a lot of music and started to look towards the Internet. This was the time before the legal issues surrounding P2Ps started. You could find so much music out there, anything you could imagine! When the heat picked up, I stopped, but I still longed for more music to listen to. I started listening to a lot of artists on MP3.com but it was sometimes hard to find a particular feel that I was looking for in the mass of artists available. Then along came net.labels! What I really enjoyed about the majority of them was that they all seem to cater to a specific or similar type of music. When I find something that I like, I want to hear more similar stuff. I think net.labels really deliver that.

As for Flash, I kind of agree with Andras. I like Flash animations, but for a label layout and design, I really try to keep it very simple and straightforward. But I do think using Flash as animated album art is very original! As for Flash, I do have a Flash animation on my video page right now actually, but you must download it to view it. I think Flash is very good when it comes to an artists homepage where you can really get abstract and creative.

Talking about the standardizing thing, we had a lot of discussions about this during the early GHM years. There are a lot of positives and negatives for both. Standardized layouts make your albums very familiar to the listener. Personally I am not a fan either because it feels too much like being trapped in a box that you can never escape. I like a lot of color and if you have the space why not use it!

Best, Nathan wwww.darkwinter.com

Message: 22/56 From: Dark Winter Subject: Re: promotion That floppy disc flyer design is awesome! Great idea dude! I also agree with you on the ‘hands on’ approach to promotion. Where I live there are a lot of musicians and there are always a ton of flyers in the pile in every store. It’s better to just stand outside of them and hand them out to anyone who will take them!

The idea of promotion made me think about this. Our goal as net.labels is to promote the music and increase downloads, right? With increased visitors comes increased fees for more bandwith (unless you run your own server). As the numbers rise, are any of you guys thinking of ways to cover your expenses? That brings me to my topic: Advertising on your site. My friend keeps bugging me to add some pop-up ads to make money off the downloads. So when they click on the download, they will have to follow a link or something before they get begin. I would get paid and they would get a ‘free’ release. My biggest concern is alienating the listeners that visit my site. Personally I hate pop-ups and redirects, and while I know they are necessary for ‘free’ services to be offered, it still bothers me. So I have decided not to have ads. I still worry though for the future. Right now, I can handle the bandwith, but I have been over a few times and if I go over my monthly bandwidth I will have to move up to a dedicated server at almost $80 a month! With a baby on the way I can’t fork over that kind of cash so ads ‘do’ sound enticing! For now it’s OK, though. What are your thoughts on ads on websites?

Best, Nathan

Message: 23/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: Re: hard or soft releases Well Marc, I am not quite there yet with Dark Winter. My last label, Green House Music, I co-ran it for almost five years and I never put out a CD of my own. I was not a well known artist, so taking the chance on a physical release was hard to do at the time. We always hoped that the next release would be the next ‘big one’ that would solve our problems and pay for future releases (including my own). The fact of the matter is, ambient and experimental music just doesn’t sell like top 40 music does. Sure we sold discs, but never enough to totally pay for the next release without us pitching in. My partner demanded a release out (rightfully so) and because of this, it materialized. I kept putting it off hoping the next release would be the one to dig us out and find cash for my project, but it never happened. So I guess it was my fault for waiting!

Now when Dark Winter eventually creates a physical release I will be the one coming up with 100% of the funding. So, guess what? The first release will be mine! :-) If things go well and I am in a good position to continue releasing physical works, my selections for release will be based on several things. First off, if it’s an established artist, what do their download numbers look like? Also, the release will have to be pretty special because of the amount of funding involved in the project. I would also be interested and willing to work with artists who wanted to get financially involved in releasing their work on the label. We would have to establish agreements and such, but I would have to problem putting down 50% on a project and give it priority. I really respect artists who are willing to sacrifice their own cash to advance themselves!

Best, Nathan

Message: 24/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: RSS? Hey guys,

Even though I do my own HTML for Dark Winter, I was wondering if you could help me understand this RSS feed. It seems like more and more sites have this and I am wondering what it’s for. It’s like a news feed right? How is it used? Does it increase visits to your site? Thank you in advance for your input!

Best, Nathan

Message: 25/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: promotion Dark Winter wrote: > What are your thoughts on ads on websites?

Well, I’m completely against ads, pop-ups, whatever is out there that helps big companies to get even bigger. Yeah, and I’m left-wing too :)

Message: 26/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: promotion, ads + RSS Thanks for all the good words. :)

We don’t have RSS, my netlabel and Bitlab are pure HTML sites… like rephlex.com. :) I think we can live without RSS at the moment, but that is a definitely good thing, so we are going to put RSS feed into our new websites. But it won’t be tomorrow, I think. (An rss feed for my netlabel has been created on the 31st of May 2006, about 3 months after this statement). About ads and bandwidth: If the ads are well organized (to tell you the truth I have never in my life clicked on any Google ad or stuff like that…) they are not disturbing. Have a look at Zerinnerung.net. I liked the old webpage with no ads, but e.g. if I switch on any adblocker the ads are gone. Even if I don’t switch any adblocker on, it doesn’t annoy me. Redirects and popups are quite disturbing, though, even if I know that they are a must in some cases.

Good night, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 27/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: Re: promotion, ads + RSS I hear ya regarding the ads. I have never visited any ads when I visit sites. I will not be adding ads at any time on Dark Winter. I just wanted what you guys thought and any concerns regarding monthly bandwith issues.

As for RSS, I guess I just don’t get it. Does the feed run on something special? Where is the RSS popular? Any insight would be most helpful.

Best, Nathan

Message: 28/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: economics Could you all talk a bit about the economics of your netlabel — how much your hosting costs, whether the increased downloads over time eventually add up to a serious expense, options you’ve explored for limiting those costs (I notice, for example, that at least some, if not all, U.S. downloads for Pedro’s test tube are through archive.org)?

Marc

Message: 29/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: Re: promotion, ads + RSS Dark Winter wrote: > As for RSS, I guess I just don’t get it. Does > the feed run on something special? Where is > the RSS popular? Any insight would be most > helpful.

I can fill you in, on or off list, on how to easily set up an RSS feed for the site. On Disquiet.com, for example, I just handcode it. It’s quite simple to update, just like any other HTML page. It’s a bit like Tivo — you don’t ever have to go to a website you like to see what’s new. When something new is added, that info pops into its RSS feed, which users access in numerous ways — via programs that reside on their harddrives, or webservices like Google Reader or, my favorite, bloglines.com. Head over to bloglines.com, set up a free account and add “disquiet.com/disquiet.rss” as a feed, and see what it looks like.

Marc

Message: 30/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: Re: promotion Test Tube wrote: > Well, I’m completely against ads, pop-ups, > whatever is out there that helps big companies > to get even bigger. Yeah, and I’m left-wing > too :)

Pedro,

Can you talk a bit more about how your personal feelings about economics and copyrights overlap — joking or not, there is something inherently progressive about simply giving music away for free.

Marc

Message: 31/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: question: favorite netlabels Nathan said thanks for the links. Let’s jump to that subject:

Could you each list a handful of your favorite netlabels, and describe briefly why you’ve singled them out? In addition, if there was a netlabel in particular that served as a model for your netlabel, tell us a bit about which one it was, and what about it inspired you.

I’ll start. To be frank, your three netlabels are ones I check regularly, which is why you were the first three netlabels I approached for this conversation (and I’m glad you all accepted the invitation). There’s a consistency to Dark Winter’s sound, and Complementary has both visually and sonically a rigor that really appeals to me. As for Test Tube, I regularly marvel at the quality of the music, and the variety, you release.

Two netlabels I’ve followed since they started are kikapu.com and stasisfield.com, and I’ve interviewed both sites’ administrators for Disquiet.com, talking about the role models they had for their labels, and about the unique set of skills required to run a netlabel, from organization, to curation, to programming, to design. Some others I like a lot: wmrecordings.com, luvsound.org, and, to name two that don’t put out music that often, 12k.com/term and noisejihad.dk/netlabel.

There are tons more, but those are an initial list.

So, what are your favorite netlabels?

Thanks again, by the way, Nathan, for tipping me off to silence-is-not-empty.com. I’ve been listening to its latest release, Pawel Grabowski’s Notes from the House of Dead, especially the second track with that bit of a vocal on it, all day.

Best,

Marc

Message: 32/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: economics Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > Could you all talk a bit about the economics of > your netlabel — how much your hosting costs, > whether the increased downloads over time > eventually add up to a serious expense, options > you’ve explored for limiting those costs (I > notice, for example, that at least some, if > not all, U.S. downloads for Pedro’s text tube > are through archive.org)?

Well, Marc, since I share server space between monocromatica and Test Tube, things are rather simple. I have one gigabyte to fill with both websites and email accounts. I know, it’s not much, but it’s manageable. Monocromatica occupies almost 2/3 of server space, and this grows slowly each month, so, what’s my strategy for Test Tube? I never keep more than 2, 3 releases on the server simultaneously. When I’m about to serve the fourth, I contact a friend, and he downloads the latest releases, and puts them in a folder on a local server. I change the links and that’s it. I also use archive.org’s space, of course. Actually, archive.org was the first strategy I used for managing server space, but now, it’s secondary, I mean, it’s like security. But lately, this new system Simon [Carless, of archive.org] is using for uploading releases into archive is messing up my head completely. I already messed up two releases, and another two completely disappeared from the system. It’s not that simple anymore. Server costs: I pay 99 Euro (around 82 dollars) annually, which includes one gigabyte hard drive space, almost unlimited email accounts, sub-domains and 40Gb of monthly bandwidth to burn. It’s a local company. Could be better, I suppose, but right now I’m not complaining…

Message: 33/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: Re: economics I just moved to a new server company last summer and so far I have been very pleased with their options. I have 10 GB of server space and 100GB of monthly bandwidth at $15 a month. If I go over that monthly bandwidth maximum I will have to upgrade to the $80 package. At one time I looked into archive.org but I decided against it. Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of great stuff there and it’s an awesome thing that it’s available, but for me, I wanted to be totally sustained on my own, not at the mercy of another sites rules and standards. Another reason why I decided to do it solo was so I could control the ads and junk on the site. I think in Pedro’s case it’s a great benefit to post material on archive.org because of the ability to increase download times for listeners in the USA. I download a lot of net.label works from overseas and I have noticed that it takes about twice as long to download an album. It would be great if they could increase the speed using mirrors. Having mirrors is an excellent idea and I need to eventually look into this for Dark Winter in the future.

Regarding the question about serious expenses, I am not too worried about the size issue because I can always remove projects when I reach maximum capacity. What I plan to do is create a request poll or form and the most requested releases will come back again for a limited time before being removed. For now, I still have some space to expand so I have no plans to remove albums (with the exception of my ‘special’ limited edition releases).

Best, Nathan

Message: 34/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: question: favorite netlabels Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > Nathan said thanks for the links. Let’s jump to that subject:

> Could you each list a handful of your favorite > netlabels, and describe briefly why you’ve > singled them out? In addition, if there was > a netlabel in particular that served as a > model for your netlabel, tell us a bit about > which one it was, and what about it inspired > you.

Thanks for the nice words and support, Marc. That means a lot to Test Tube :)

To begin with, my role model for Test Tube was undoubtedly Thinner/Autoplate. Autoplate especially. But also mono211. Visually I came up with my own designs (which are not at all original) that, funny enough, Stadtgruen and even Thinner used as model for themselves. I felt really flattered and decided to keep them that way, until… well, until I’m fed up with them.

Musically, I always loved 12k, Mego (which unfortunately closed down recently, also) and other experimental based labels. Labels that don’t limit themselves to one style or one language. I like that, the ability to surprise the listener with something new and unexpected each time. Monotonous catalogues bore me to death, I must admit, although I like to return to some labels that I know I’d like to hear, like Kyoto Digital or Tokyo Down. In those cases, the quality speaks for themselves. There’s no way to turn back after you listen to a couple of their releases. You’ll always want to come back again and again. I like diversity so much, that one of Test Tube’s next releases will be an Italian Rock band called the Union Freego. You may ask yourselves: “What’s so fucking original about rock’n’roll?” and you’re right. But there’s something about classic indie rock’n’roll that simply gets into your hips and makes your head nod. And makes you smile. And I like to smile every now and then :)

Message: 35/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: promotion Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > Pedro, > > Can you talk a bit more about how your personal > feelings about economics and copyrights overlap > — joking or not, there is something inherently > progressive about simply giving music away for > free.

Well, that is a complicated issue… I admire the posture of artists that are releasing their music free of charge. Sometimes I feel like I’m stealing their music for my own egotistical pleasure. Not that I’m making money with their music, of course not, but… I don’t know… I’m attracting some attention, people congratulate me for the releases, but I feel a little guilty, because the merit is all the artists’s. I also admire Creative Commons’ struggle to dignify corporate free artistic creativity. That’s really important, and each day becoming more and more relevant for the artist community — in this specific case, the Internet musical community.

I’ve been noticing that a couple artists each year, maybe more, are slowly getting some attention from indie labels like Warp, Type Records (a couple of role models for me), Merck (unfortunately closed down recently) and others. This is getting more and more people to believe in the solid quality — artistic or whatever — that net-based musicians are capable of. It makes me very happy when I see Khonnor selling hundreds of copies and playing live in Sonar and other important venues. Makes me think and believe that all is not lost in this industry.

My point is: We need to fight the music industry’s corporativism. Every day one of the big ones (EMI, Universal & Sony/BMG) buys some little distributor or label and grows a bit more, halving the growth of small scale businesses that really believe in artistic quality and stand backing up for the independent artists. I could never agree with company ads supporting those small labels, even if it’s the only way for them to survive. It’s a matter of time before they succumb to the big ones. What’s the point of that? I know this is not a simple issue, but it doesn’t seem right to accept that anyway. I’m totally against.

Message: 36/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: Re: question: favorite netlabels Thanks for your words about the labels Marc! I really enjoy Pawel’s work too! Check back on DW this summer for a special release by Pawel…

A few of the ones I have enjoyed were the Observatory (observatoryonline.org) and Kikapu. There is a lot to download and listen to there! Webbedhandrecords.com is another good one for me. Another one would be ubuweb.com but I’m not sure you can consider it label or not. The things that draw me to a specific net.label or another would be quality and style of releases, artwork, and the quantity I can download.

I agree with Pedro regarding ‘monotnous’ being a bad thing. I know of many labels like his where the variety is vast yet the quality still remains high. With Dark Winter I am trying to keep the feel similar yet still escaping the ‘monotnous’ of ambient and drone music.

Best, Nathan

PS: I have also noticed a trend towards the OGG format. What does everyone thing of this?

Message: 37/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: question: favorite netlabels Dark Winter wrote: > I have also noticed a trend towards the OGG > format. What does everyone thing of this?

Interesting point, Nathan… I’ve been thinking of leaving the MP3 format (after all, it is a copyrighted format… at least the Fraunhoffer one is) and switching to an open source one… perhaps FLAC, like unfoundsounds.com or even OGG, why not. The problem I anticipate is related to the tags. Which is the better one in sound quality? Which is the better one for tagging? Help is most welcome…

Message: 38/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: Re: question: favorite netlabels I have heard a few different things regarding the quality of OGG files. Most say it’s actually better than MP3. I know most computer audio players play OGG files, but do other popular handheld MP3 players play them? I know my Archos player did, but I’m not sure about the iPod or other units.

Nathan

Message: 39/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: question: favorite netlabels The first netlabel I’ve ever seen was Clever Music. I listen to many releases there, even today. Regarding 4/4 minimal-tech music, you cannot ignore them. They put out quality music of this kind. My #1 netlabel would be Stadtgruen. I think words fail to describe the quality of releases from the Stadt and Gruen catalogue. Great concept, great artwork, great music, and great texts to read as well, these are the things what Stadtgruen is all about. My other favourite netlabel is Monohm. Its concept is simple, and I love this kind of simplicity, especially regarding sound design. Monohm has the “somehow always something new from the same kind” feeling, I think. I am a fan of 8-bit music as well, so my last pick would be 8bitpeoples. There are a few releases at this netlabel which are not my cup of tea, but this only means the whole range of styles cannot appeal to one’s taste, and it is a good and brave thing to maintain a label like that. My latest favourite is Test Tube — I love Ao’s release and a few more there. I am looking forward to hearing the new Motionfield work, and I am emailing with Ao — he’ll have a release at Cod sooner or later. :)

That is all I can post today, but I’ll comment on the other topics tomorrow!

Good night, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 40/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: economics In my case, all the files of cod releases are hosted at archive.org. I know that it has become slower lately, and this new uploading system does not work correctly in many cases, and there are some bugs in the code as well. I have read somewhere that they are going to improve their servers… I always bear in mind that archive.org is a completely non-profit site, so I am still satisfied. Of course, I will have to think about mirrors sooner or later, so it was good to read Pedro’s suggestions. (A new host has been donated to my netlabel’s catalogue on the 31st of May, 2006. The catalogue is still and is going to be availble at archive.org as well. Many thanks go to the mosfet.hu crew!) My netlabel is “under” my physical label’s url, so I don’t have to pay for two domains, and it works as a promotion for Bitlab Records as well.

Best, Andras

Message: 41/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: question: favorite netlabels + ogg Pedro, OGG does sound better, I think, but there are problems. It is good to see that OGG is now compatible with every OS, but many people find its streaming annoying. It is not a problem to me although it forces you to completely stop listening to a track at a certain part or listen to it from the beginning till the end. The good old days crossed my mind in connection with OGG streaming, when many people used to put on a vinyl to listen to it like that. :)

My favourite formats today are APE and FLAC. I think I can say they are the formats of the future, even though tagging them is a bit of a problem today. I assume developers are going to solve this and completely compatible tags of lossless formats will be introduced sooner or later.

Best, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 42/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: question: favorite netlabels + ogg Andras Hargitai wrote: > I assume developers are going to solve this > and completely compatible tags of lossless > formats will be introduced sooner or later.

That would be cool, yes. I sympathize with FLAC also. :)

Message: 43/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: curating yourself Another question to start the week off:

If you’re a musician, how do you balance that role with being a curator of other people’s work?

Thanks.

Marc

Message: 44/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: why electronica? Hello, gentlemen. Thanks for all your responses thus far. It’s really helpful for me to have a sense of the economic and promotional aspects of your netlabels, and to get a sense of the netlabels you each look to for inspiration. Given that so many netlabels are electronic-oriented, the following question is inevitable:

Do you think netlabels have been particularly popular with electronic music, versus say singer-songwriters, because electronic music tends to have a less copyright-derived understanding of intellectual property?

I look forward to your responses. That’s the first of two questions I’m sending out this evening. This is going great. I hope you all had good weekends.

Thanks,

Marc

Message: 45/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: why electronica? Hi Marc. Hope you’ve had a great weekend as well. I think this is going great too… We’re covering interesting aspects of the ‘business’ with this discussion. Now, my own ‘two cents’ about that question:

I don’t believe the option for electronica oriented music has to do with copyright, but rather with the ‘ease’ of the current home-based musicians today. It’s easily accessible for musicians to produce electronic music today, versus buying good mics for recording voice and other acoustic oriented instruments for other kind of sounds. Meaning: I think the main reason is money and access to recording material. Everyone has a computer nowadays and the access to music creation software. But I notice things are changing. I’ve been getting demo attempts into other genres, like folk/digital folk and even classic rock n’ roll.

But that issue with copyright could have something to do with the ‘voice material’ as well… maybe singers feel that netlabels aren’t too fond of songs or something… it’s an interesting thought. But if you check, for instance, the Portuguese netlabel Merzbau (merzindie.no.sapo.pt/netlabel_eng.htm) you’ll find a couple of projects which are more or less singer-songwriter oriented. Maybe something is changing…

Pedro.

Message: 46/56 From: Pedro/Test Tube Subject: Re: curating yourself Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > If you’re a musician, how do you balance > that role with being a curator of other > people’s work?

I’m not a musician, but I’ve been feeling the urge to do something for sometime now… maybe when I have the time I… I have some ideas that I want to put to music…

Pedro.

Message: 47/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: why electronica? Hi again,

I quite agree with Pedro, things are indeed changing. I can find vocal-indie-rock stuff even at 8bitpeoples today, and it is really good to experience things like that. “Netlabels began to branch out from the tracker scene when the MP3 file format became popular in the late 1990’s, but most are still dedicated to electronic music and related genres.” – says Wikipedia, and that is the truth. I think that fact can help us to reach a conclusion which answers Marc’s question. In my humble opinion, the current situation with the electronica majority at netlabels originated in the early demoscene culture (wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoscene). So, I don’t believe that this phenomenon has to do anything with copyright. I am going to post a reply tomorrow to the other question, but now it is bedtime here again, and I had a quite busy day. :)

Good night, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 48/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: Re: why electronica? Pedro,

You’ve very much touched on the follow up question I had in mind — and it applies less to netlabels specifically, than it does to the nature of electronic music, but the netlabel angle is inherent in the question nonetheless, because the whole issue of monetary value is what I’m getting at. Speaking of the “ease” of current music making in the electronic world, does that suggest that to a good extent electronic music is more, to borrow a term from Hollywood and Broadway, “music by the yard”?

Marc

Message: 49/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: Re: curating yourself I am a musician (Samsa, Bunk Data) and for me, it’s never been a problem with the balance. For Dark Winter I like to release only one album by an artist per year (including myself) with the exception of collaborations, compilations, etc..

When I started the label I had a lot of material pilled up from not releasing during my 5 years with the GHM label so my first agenda was to get myself caught up! After that, I have tried to keep it to only one DW release a year. That leaves me with 11 months to plan out and that works great for me!

Best, Nathan

Message: 50/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: mirror mirror Which release thus far on your netlabel best typifies what you’re up to, and why?

Marc

Message: 51/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: the nature of the forum It’s been interesting to me thus far that on at least twice the discussion has turned from a theoretical talk about what netlabels are, to a more practical discussion of how to put a netlabel together, to things like RSS feeds and music formats. Could you talk a bit about the learning process you went through in advance of and since launching your netlabel: who you learned from, who you asked questions of, forums or other places you were able to ask for advice, advice you might have passed on subsequently to other netlabel administrators, and whether you’ve had any face-to-face interaction with other netlabel people?

Yeah, it’s a long one, but they’re all essentially the same question.

Thanks,

Marc

Message: 52/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: mirror mirror Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > Which release thus far on your netlabel > best typifies what you’re up to, and why?

I would say, my catalogue as a whole typifies what I am up to with my netlabel. That is this “bookshelf” concept, which I have mentioned above. I don’t think I’d need to say more about this at the moment, because I would just repeat myself. :)

Best, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 53/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: the nature of the forum I had already learnt many things about promotion and label work in general when I started my netlabel, so things were not that hard in my case. There is a great link collection at netlabels.org as well; this is a good starting point to any kind of netlabel information. I only had problems with the uploading process, but a few days later it became clear as well. Many thanks to Simon at archive.org for his work; he is one of the greatest admins in the world. :) I don’t feel that I had any face-to-face interaction with other people in the scene — it would be good to experience something like that.

Best, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 54/56 From: Andras/Complementary Distribution Subject: Re: curating yourself Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > If you’re a musician, how do you balance that > role with being a curator of other people’s > work?

I have heard a similar question once, as far as I remember a drum & bass producer was asked: “How do you listen to music? Is that different?” He answered something like “There is no difference in that.” Our concept is that simple at Bitlab: We listen to the demos which are not against our policy, and sooner or later (it is a question of money, of course) we release what we like. My netlabel doesn’t have a detailed policy, I decided to ask people to send me their “books” which they think I should read or put a copy of it on my public bookshelf. All in all, I have never had any bad dreams about that problem of balancing yet, fortunately.

Best, Andras Bitlab/Cod

Message: 55/56 From: Nathan/Dark Winter Subject: I’m back sorry I’m Late! Hey guys,

It appears that my email was bouncing for some reason and that’s why I haven’t been seeing the emails. I reactivated my account so I should be good to go again.

I will respond to both of Marc’s questions from today in this email.

Which release thus far on your netlabel best typifies what you’re up to, and why?

I would have to agree with what’s been said regarding the ‘bookshelf’ concept. I think of it more as a ‘library.’ Just like a collection of ones favorite books, a label is simply a collection of music that’s available to the public. For me, I try to have each Dark Winter release be as original and different from the rest while sharing a similar ‘something’ that calls out to me. A release for me is ‘new’ every month so it is always a statement of what I am up to! :-)

Marc Weidenbaum wrote: > Could you talk a bit about the learning > process you went through in advance of > and since launching your netlabel: who > you learned from, who you asked questions of?

Well, for me the learning process started in the early Green House Music days. We had a friend build our website and post updates. The problem was that he was really lazy at posting updates (even simple text) and I wanted to have more control to keep material updated and fresh. I took over the reins from there on. I started learning HTML, PHP, Javascript, Flash by visiting the various free websites available searching on Google. It was a lot of trial an error but in the end, it was a great learning process. Even with the RSS feed, if you are not a computer programmer you really have to take the reverse engineering approach! Now I am looking into an RSS to HTML script so I don’t have to post updates in multiple places! It all comes down to how much you want to do/learn and how much you are willing to pay for! I have more time and energy than I do money so doing it myself is the best option. As I have met people over the years and we have traded skills and ideas so I think it’s a great symbiotic relationship. As for face-to-face, I have met a few local label owners and talked briefly, but most of my interactions have been over the Internet mostly from out of the USA.

Best, Nathan

Message: 56/56 From: Marc/Disquiet.com Subject: the end Hi, gentlemen. I think out yap has reached its natural end. Thanks again for participating. It’s been great.

Best,

Marc

Tag: / Comments: 2 ]

2 Trackbacks

  • By Snare Dub (MP3) on March 11, 2012 at 6:05 am

    […] Here’s a group interview I did back in 2006 that Hargitai participated in: “Free as in Netlabel.” AKPC_IDS += […]

  • […] code) to pool their efforts into the embodiment of a musical ethos: a label. Netlabels exist all around the world, of course, but when I started my radio show seven years(!) ago I decided to play […]

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