Interview received: November 17 and 21, 2016; June 8, 2017.
What is your name?
Quetzal Contla a.k.a. In Vitro.
Where are you located?
Do you save any materials – digital files, emails, physical materials – related to your netlabel? Are you interested in organizing or archiving them?
I have a backup of digital audio and graphic files on optical disc formats.
How do you define what is and what is not a netlabel?
A netlabel is free music, better if it is free as in freedom and free as free beer. A netlabel is goodwill, sharing, community, peace, love, union and respect. A netlabel is not captcha, no tricks, no downloads for emails directions, no spam.
How and when did you first learn about netlabels?
At some moment of 2006 I was searching for music as always and I find Zerinnerung, now Mixotic, in the playlists I found a lot of netlabels and the spirit behind all it.
What was the first netlabel you heard of?
Zerinnerung, now Mixotic and after that I remember 1Bit Wonder, Monotonik, Thinner.
What are some netlabels that inspired or influenced you? Or that you admire?
Sutemos, Test Tube, Deepindub.
What made you decide to start your own netlabel?
I was looking for a various artist compilation for my blog Netlabels & News and a friend suggested me runs an specific domain to that, and with his help the first idea turns in a real web-site, at first, my goal was deliver only compilations but the quality of the first album offered to release in Breathe made me change my mind.
What were the reasons you had to choose releasing music for free? And why did you choose to not release physical albums?
In part was because I wanted a project based on free creativity and not on sales, fame or ratings. On the other hand I keep in mind the free culture vision as something desirable and necessary in practice. My own reason is Matthew 10:8 transported to social life, “Freely you have received; freely give.”
I choose to not release physical formats considering my resources and skills.
What is the name of your netlabel?
Breathe Compilations. Other non-official names on internet are Breathe, Breathe Netlabel or Breathe Comp.
Why did you choose the name you chose?
You know, is for this song, Breathe, breathe in the air… is about take a pause, a break of the fast-paced live.
When did you start your netlabel?
June 24 2008
What is the focus of your netlabel?
To promote artists through their own art.
Are your albums released under creative commons, copyleft or copyright? Why did you choose the method you chose?
Creative Commons, their different licenses allow to the artist keep more control over their works.
What is your relationship to the artists that you release?
I do not know the majority of artists in person, our relationship is almost always based on music and goodwill.
Do you maintain any contact once you’ve released their work?
Yes, more of times it happened for periods, some artists stay close for years or from the beginning until now.
Do you help promote them outside of their release itself?
Yes, in my possibilities, I use newsletter, social media, re-blogging and personal letters to possibly interested entities.
How do you decide what artists you want to release? Do you approach them? Do they approach you? Do you have any specific guidelines that you follow?
In the most of cases I personally invite to the artists for the compilations, sometimes artists which have already collaborated are invited. Artists who wants to release an album need to have a previous collaboration in comps. We don’t accept demo submissions but sometimes the contact is possible anyway.
Are there any specific resources that you use to discover artists?
I discover artists through other netlabels, most of the times these are managed for friends, also many artists was introduced his music partners to me. On occasions I just invite artists that I really like and I have luck!
Do you act as a curator or is it all luck of the draw?
I act as a curator in more of the compilations and when is necessary in albums too, other times nothing needs to be changed.
What genres have you never released before, that you would love to release on your label or on a future label of yours?
Dub techno is a recent member in the list and is very welcome.
Are there any artists that you have yet to release that you would like to work with? Or that you always wished you had been able to work with?
Most of the time I wanted to publish an artist in particular this became reality.
How many albums have you released?
In December of 2016 we will have reached 15 compilations, 45 albums and 4 recorded live acts.
Who are some of your most notable artists?
🙂 All our artists have something really special, we embrace a wide range of styles and I think competitions are not fairs in our case.
Which are some of your most significant releases?
Do you release your own work on your netlabel? What do you think of that practice?
Only sometimes, I think this practice must be done with measure.
What do you enjoy about running your netlabel? What do you get out of it?
I enjoy the music, I am really glad with the music released over these years.
What are some difficult things about running the label? Or what are some challenges?
Jaja, almost everything, a good netlabel needs a lot of time, patience, job and learning capacity.
Has anything about it been disappointing or frustrating?
Crackers of websites. Get something to do!
What keeps you motivated to continue running the netlabel when you are feeling frustrated?
I feel motivated for the incredible good music projects involved in the netlabel and because It’s a success around the world.
How much time do you put into running the label? Approximate hours per day, week or month?
I prefer not to count the time. Is a lot.
Can you describe all the work that you do on a regular basis in order to run your label?
Relations, translations, web design, graphic design, promotion, audio issues and details, web-skills, protocols, bugs, payments, uploads and downloads.
In what audio format and bitrate do you release your albums?
mp3 at 44khz 320kbps, some releases are on WAV or FLAC format too.
Why did you choose that format?
mp3 is officially dead, says, what a joke, most of music downloads of the world in the next years will be on mp3, that’s why I chose this format.
Do you zip your files into a package? Or are the albums uploaded as individual files?
We encourage to download whole packages, but individual files are available.
Aside from the audio files, do you include any other types of files or information with the album?
We collaborate with amazing graphic artists and photographers, they provide the cover artwork and sometimes entire galleries or full size formats, in some releases we include a pdf with information.
What software programs do you use to run your netlabel? For converting and encoding audio, for metadata, for ftp, for making cover art, etc.
SoundKonverter, Filezilla, GIMP, mp3tag, EasyTAG, WordPress, LibreOffice, Alchemy, Firefox, etc.
Where do you share your releases? On your website? Free Music Archive? Internet Archive? Et al? A combination of these things?
In our website, the files are hosted on internet archive and Sonicsquirrel. We have temporal playlists (full length tracks) in Soundcloud for pre-listen.
What do you do to promote your label?
The question is repeated, answered before.
Do you send releases out for review? If yes, is it traditional media – review sites, magazines, blogs, etc. Or are there non-traditional methods?
Both, traditional and not-traditional.
How much success have you had in getting people to review your releases in magazines, blogs or websites? Any frustrations regarding this?
I’m very satisfied with the number, quality and diversity of countries of the reviews, reports, press, podcasts and radio mentions (even specials episodes) of our releases. Ironically Im not see too much success in Mexico in this point, maybe because our site is in English and we are not nationalist. I don’t know.
Have you had success in getting people in general to listen to your releases?
I think so, plays and download expectations exceeded.
How important are download numbers and number of listeners to you?
When people share music it is because they wants listeners for that, a netlabel is a channel to share, so, downloads are important but are only stats. Listeners are much more important, they close the circle with the musicians. We have great listeners and I feel proud of this. In any case the music is the most important for me, even if only a few buddies hears.
Do you feel that the lack of a physical object – vinyl, cassette, eight track, etc. – is a hindrance to building an audience? To getting any media to pay attention? If yes, why do you think that is the case?
This is not a trouble for me because this is not on my plans and I know the limits, the first is the limited average of people connected to internet.
Has the lack of a physical object been a problem for any of the artists that you have worked with? If it has how have you responded?
In addition to promotion, publicity and releasing albums do you organize live performances or festivals for your artists?
I do not organize events.
How do you finance your netlabel, including the labor you put into it?
In the past two artist – friends have helped me with the expenses, now is currently financed only by me.
What do you think is your label’s legacy might be?
Own and strangers can see an honest project here, art for the love of art in the face of capitalism, because art is life, this is a place of life in a age of death.
Do you feel that you are filling a niche that other labels are not?
Yes, in special our compilations and the wide range of styles coexisting together.
What do you think about Bandcamp and any similar music hosting sites?
Is fine if works for you, I prefer not corporate entities for this.
Do you think netlabels are sustainable? If yes, what do you think the future is for them? Should there be more?
Against the vision of the “netlabel is dead” I think netlabelism is a movement that arrived to stay and listening on stream is not for all. My 10 cents about it in comments of http://www.51beats.net/2016/09/29/is-netlabelism-dead/
Are there too many netlabels?
There are too many djs and guitarists, I’m sure of that.
Will netlabels be obsolete before 2025?
The netlabels are only a part of the utopies that come.
Does your netlabel align with any political or philosophical positions or thoughts? Do you get involved with politics at all as a netlabel?
Our principle is: create music is an act of freedom as itself.
How do you feel that netlabels as a phenomenon overlap with any other artist practices – cassette trading, mail art, etc? Is there any overlap with podcasts, podfiction/netfiction, or any other art that is distributed for free?
I see implicit relations with software libre, hardware libre, open source, open cinema, free banks of audios, anarchism, etc.
Are you aware of a chronological history of netlabels? If yes, what is it?
Is there anything else you would like to write about that wasn’t included here?
Preserve music and animals wild.
If you want to start a netlabel and you know Spanish start here: http://addsensor.com/referencias/addSensor018/addsensor018_ManualNetlabel.pdf