The netlabel is among the purest expressions of the Internet’s ability to function as a frictionless environment for art and culture. Netlabels distribute music freely, with the enthusiastic support of the musicians they promote, and while most netlabels focus on a fairly well-defined realm of music, that music is generally defined aesthetically first, rather than geographically or economically. And because of the free model, the music on netlabels rarely evidences any effort to take commercial matters into consideration. These organizations creatively channel the energy of individuals who may never meet in person, but for whom the collective endeavor is a compelling opportunity.
Back in 2006, I gathered the heads of three leading netlabels to discuss what makes netlabels tick — and, in the case of their electronica-leaning labels, what makes them whir, crunch and drone. True to the netlabel culture, we had our conversation online, and it was published as “Free as in Netlabel” on June 17, 2006 (disquiet.com).
Yesterday, one of the participants, András Hargitai of Complementary Distribution (bitlabrecords.com/cod), out of Budapest, Hungary, informed me that the conversation has now been fully translated into Hungarian. That’s no small accomplishment, as the original article, even after being edited down from the raw conversation transcript, clocks in at over 11,000 words. The other participants in the discussion were Nathan Larson of Dark Winter (darkwinter.com), from Minnetonka, Minnesota, and Pedro Leitao of Test Tube (monocromatica.com/netlabel), from Lisbon, Portugal. If you can read Hungarian, there’s more information on the translation at prae.hu, and the article is available for download (PDF).