When researching the article “My Label is the Internet” for our April09 issue, Alex had the chance to talk with several people directly involved with netlabels.
The great conundrum of the internet is if it’s good music and you downloaded it, you must have stolen it. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) would have us believe that turning on our computers, tuning in to the webstream, and dropping out of the physical unit purchase of music, is equivalent to stabbing our favorite artists in their tortured, money-starved livers, and leaving them to bleed out in a back alley. Actually, in the case of a quality netlabel, the somewhat new and relatively unknown outcropping of the evolving communication matrix, downloading music is what they stake their very livelihood upon.
An interview with Sebastian from the netlabel Thinner
What brought Thinner into existence?
The basic desire to run my own label, the possibility to create a special image and the impossibility to invest financial resources in it.
From the label’s perspective, is technology like BitTorrent file sharing a threat?
On the one hand yes, because the ease of use prevents people from buying music. MP3 blogs sharing copyrighted music and making money through advertising income are all around these days. Although torrents are a good technology for making information available and spreading it, it’s at the same time a serious threat to many thousand of people working in media related companies. If you look around and see which files are shared within torrent networks it feels like 99% is illegal, copyrighted material. On the other hand digital music is overpriced – asking $1 for a file is too much, because if compared to alternative media like DVDs and computer games, people get the least entertainment for their money. Because of that music needs to be seriously re-priced – and all parties who are not directly involved in production and marketing should be removed from the financial distribution cake. Else digital can barely become a full replacement to physical sales.
Does the traditional model of promote-release-tour apply to a netlabel and it’s artists
Most netlabels work as a one-man show or in a team, where people only invest time in the sense of the netlabel being a hobby, where things are about having fun. So the traditional model doesn’t apply per se, however I think that after a tour is confirmed, that an accompanying release on a netlabel definitely boosts interest – we did that on our tours in North America and during that time the figures of our website visitors peaked.
Apart from an online presence, is there a consideration for physical products as well?
Yes, for two main reasons. First, netlabels are neglected from the media for the reason that netlabels don’t have a budget available to buy content in print magazines (by placing adverts). Besides, the elite DJs receive hundreds of promotional copies a week, so only standout tracks have a fair chance of getting played out. And if an artist has killer tracks available it’s unlikely that he will send them to a netlabel.
How closely do you follow other netlabels offering similar material – and are they competition or allies?
I have difficulties using the word “competition” within the netlabel scene – after all it’s not about selling a product and beating your rivals, but rather it’s about having fun, having a good time, being creative without taking the risk of going bankrupt, and enjoying yourself. We have contacts with one or another netlabel and even had a couple joint projects with Canadian netlabel Epsilonlab.
If money and economics were not an issue, what would change with the label?
I could imagine that we’d be working on Thinner full time.