The exchange below is from MFR’s myspace.  It forced me to think a little about what we’re actually doing here.

It relates to something we were talking about a few weeks ago; we’re making “pop” music (as opposed to “art” or “folk” music) but making it into a product – where does that leave us?  The record label’s job is primarily on the product end; turning music with commercial potential into hard cash.  A netlabel functions sort of in parallel, turning music with memetic potential into listeners.  I suppose.

I don’t know, I’m interested in this and can’t wrap my head around it – separating our music and its pop aesthetic from pop-as-product – what are we doing?!?!

————– Original Message ————–

From: Jesiah

What benefits does a band get for being on a netlabel? What benefits does the netlabel get for signing a band? -Jesiah

————– Reply ————–

Jesiah – sorry it’s taken me awhile to get back to you.

Each netlabel is different. But very broadly, netlabels tend to be cooperatives that include several artists (often friends, or locals in a particular scene) who band together for promotion purposes and sharing resources. Like a “real” record label, but with a different goal: instead of making money, the goal of a netlabel is simply to share their music as widely as possible. So bands share promotion effort (print, web, merch) and resources (gear, studio equipment or time, web sites, instruments… on and on).

Because the netlabel is not a separate entity from the bands (as is the case with record labels) but just a tool artists use for promotion, the netlabel itself doesn’t really “get” much from “signing” new bands, other than the promotional power that new artist brings to the table. hope that helps,


3 thoughts on “Netlabels”

  1. Yeah, this is tricky, but I think you’re bound to get screwed up when you try to think about netlabels in the context of that dude’s definition of “pop music.” I mean, he had three very distinct types of music he thought existed, and we definitely fall under the “pop” definition the easiest. BUT- the way we share our music is more like the way “folk” music is shared- for free, and with anonymous authorship of songs (kind of).

    Howie and I have talked about how, when an MFR artist writes a song, it becomes a song for EVERYONE on MFR. It’s like we all pool our time, energy, resources, promotional ability, and songs into this into a big collective pile, and then we all draw from it.

    I especially see the parrallel between MFR and “folk” music in the example of an Echoes show. Howie will play songs from Derek, me, Nate, h&s, Shacker, etc. And even though he knows where the songs are coming from and might even tell the audience who wrote which song, it’s almost as if it doesn’t really matter who wrote the song (like with folk music), and we’re just sort of playing it to play it (again, like folk music).

    So, with MFR, I think we may have created a 4th type of music, “pop-folk”- music that is written like pop music, but shared and enjoyed like folk music.

    What do you think???

  2. I was talking about this over coffee last night too…

    I definitely think we’re starting from a “pop” place. To wit; before MFR, we were completely pop by all Tagg’s measures. And we all still do the full pop thing (R,CC! / 5*C / The Return / etc.).

    With the “folk” element, it’s like MFR has become its own mini-nation/people. Within our very tiny “tribe,” there exists a strain of folk music with its own aesthetic, history, and ongoing conversation. Weird! But true in a way, I think!

    I still wonder what Tagg would make of all this. We don’t fit neatly into the system. From an aesthetic standpoint, we’re pure pop (in the broad sense) but I feel that de-commodifying our music marks a major ontological status-change, and I’m struggling to figure out how to describe it.

    What would happen if Nike started giving away sneakers? ????? The world would explode! But really, it’s that radical, just at a low level.


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