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DIY Labels

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#1 Joel C

Joel C

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Posted 11 December 2007 - 04:10 PM

Could someone explain the concept behind DIY (Do It Yourself)/web labels? I've seen the term pop up a lot while browsing, and I'm not sure if I totally get the gist of it. I understand the idea of promotion, but it appears that all the artists release their music for free. Is there any source of profit for the artist, or is it one of those I-only-do-music-because-I-love-it deals?

For reference, a couple labels that fit this genre are 12rec and Aerotone.

#2 opus


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Posted 11 December 2007 - 04:28 PM

It seems like a lot of web-based labels exist within the electronica/techno/house scenes. And those genres of music have very little overhead. Literally, all you need is a halfway decent laptop and some software (or if you're skilled enough, you can write your own), and you can start making music. Once you get past that, there's very little loss to recoup, so I suppose there's greater incentive to release your music for free or for very little. (Or at least, there's little reason not to release your music for free or for very little.)

I also know that some web-based labels are something of a hybrid. You can download an entire release for free or get a CD/CD-R with real artwork, etc. for a nominal fee (such as $5).

I surmise that, besides PR and philosophical/ideological reasons, other draws for web-based labels include:
  • A greater sense of community. Many of the labels that I've seen strike me as fairly close-knit, and almost incestuous, with artists constantly helping eachother out, bringing new artists to the fold, etc.
  • Greater freedom. Many of the artists on the labels that I know of aren't actually tied to those labels. They release music on a wide variety of labels, letting them put out more music, and more diverse music.

#3 Holy Moly!

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 04:55 PM

Joel, DIY and web-based labels are two seperate things with considerable overlap.

DIY is a praxis that was popularized as part of the punk movement, but it can be applied to pretty much any form of cultural production (not just music either). The idea is that people can be participants in culture instead of just passive consumers, and you can use whatever means you have available to you--you don't have to accept the corporate culture industry's standards about what valid art is, about the right way to do things. as wikipedia says "Instead of traditional means of bands reaching their audiences through large music labels, bands began recording themselves, manufacturing albums and merchandise, booking their own tours, and creating opportunities for smaller bands to get wider recognition and gain cult status through repetitive low-cost DIY touring." DIY was the core value of the genesis of the independent music movement.

DIY is a lifestyle. It applies to everything. Grow your own vegetables. Mend your own clothes. Run for political office!

wikipedia again: "DIY is sometimes simply a way of finding ad hoc solutions to problems that are otherwise usually solved with wealth or corporate support. Often though DIY involves a more sustained learning experience which seeks to replace the means for producing goods and services traditionally sought in a money economy to a more permanent extent. Thus DIY is in a broad sense an economic model. Skill sharing is a central aspect of DIY culture and practice."

Netlabels are just labels that release music online. Some of them just want to get it out into the world. Some of them are motivated by "free-culture" ideologies. Some of them view it as a promotional tool to get people out to shows and stuff.