More good news from the music-related front on the wonderful web: As in the study of International Relations, there exists a fragile balance of power in the music industry that shifts along with changes in the capabilities of its major players. Such players being the musicians, record companies and the web platforms that are desperately trying to woo them both, you may have already picked up on the many threads related to the power-play in recent weeks suggesting a fundamental alteration to the production/profit landscape about to ensue. Indeed following Radiohead’s In Rainbows experiment in business modeling, the formation of the Featured Artists’ Coalition is driven by very much the same sentiment — resulting from the increased desire for UK-based artists to retain rights to their music whilst gaining control over what happens to their work once distributed via digital channels so widespread today. Further challenging the establishment in an effort to alter the status quo of the class action fat-cats v. underdogs [insert names of billionaire producers and starving musicians here], independent labels have warned the MySpace network of their artists’ threat to leave after a deal was reached between the site’s musical arm and four major labels giving priority to top mainstream artists in its newly released music service.
With the internet continuing to lead a more active role as the channel tapping into various networks of distribution for both musicians and modestly-sized musical collectives and labels alike, one may reasonably expect that things to come will continue to push the joystick towards the hands of those musicians who so painstakingly work towards crafting the sounds we often take too much for granted. For long I have seen the existence of netlabels as a primary element in this process, proving that one needs not have too much money to get the music out there (often doing so for free), and promoting musicians that make up for what they lack in celebrity through an unparalleled level of genuine talent. It is in this spirit that Netaudio Festival 2008 opens in London tomorrow night, and I’m looking forward to celebrating the accomplishments of the online musicians’ community at one of my all-time favourite venues: the Shunt Lounge in the vaults beneath London Bridge station. Well-chosen as a rather unique place for the unique three-day event, the menu offers a selection of live performances ranging from IDM, minimal, house and ambient, as well as talks, workshops, market showcases and interactive installations. Not surprisingly, both SoundCloud and Last.fm are on Netaudio’s list of supporters, so I quite imagine members from both networks will also be in attendance — a great crowd guaranteed!
And if not in London (or if a netlabel novice), below are ten of my favourite labels online, all with discographies to download and enjoy free of charge:
Sarah Badr © MMVIII
See also: Netlabel Catalogue