Do you run a netlabel? What you do and what you have to say is important and I want to hear from you! All you have to do is copy, paste and answer the questions below. Then send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you know of a netlabel that I should get in touch with? That would be helpful too, please let me know.
The purpose of this interview is to document the history and culture of netlabels. The responses will serve as a resource for researchers and anyone interested in the topic. As such, the responses will be made public in some way – as a website, a zine or something else. By answering the questions and sending them back you are consenting to your responses being made public, please keep that in mind.
For the purpose of this project I am defining a netlabel as a label that distributes music without a physical version and for free. I am aware that some labels do both, or began as a netlabel and transformed into a paid label or vice versa. If you run a label that began as a netlabel but isn’t one anymore or if you run a hybrid label, I’d still like to hear about your experiences running the netlabel portion of your label.
I know there are a lot of questions, but there is no deadline to this project. So take as long as you need to answer them.
I also want to say please feel free to write your answers in the language you are most comfortable with. I do not want to privilege English responses just because that is my language.
If you feel uncomfortable with any question, you are not obligated to answer it.
Thank you in advance for your time.
What is your name?
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?
How do you define what is and what is not a netlabel?
How and when did you first learn about netlabels?
What was the first netlabel you heard of?
What are some netlabels that inspired or influenced you? Or that you admire?
What made you decide to start your own netlabel?
What were the reasons you had to choose releasing music for free? And why did you choose to not release physical albums?
What is the name of your netlabel?
Why did you choose the name you chose?
When did you start your netlabel?
What is the focus of you netlabel?
Are your albums released under creative commons, copyleft or copyright? Why did you choose the method you chose?
What is your relationship to the artists that you release? Do you maintain any contact once you’ve released their work? Do you help promote them outside of their release itself?
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? Do you act as a curator or is it all luck of the draw?
What are or were your criteria for the music you curate and release?
What genres have you never released before, that you would love to release on your label or on a future label of yours?
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?
How many albums have you released?
Who are some of your most notable artists?
Which are some of your most significant releases?
Do you release your own work on your netlabel? What do you think of that practice?
What do you enjoy about running your netlabel? What do you get out of it?
What are some difficult things about running the label? Or what are some challenges?
Has anything about it been disappointing or frustrating?
What keeps or kept you motivated to continue running the netlabel when you are or were feeling frustrated?
How much time do you put into running the label? Approximate hours per day, week or month?
Can you describe all the work that you do on a regular basis in order to run your label?
In what audio format and bitrate do/did you release your albums?
Why did you choose that format?
Do/did you zip your files into a package? Or are/were the albums uploaded as individual files?
Aside from the audio files, do/did you include any other types of files or information with the album?
What software programs do/did you use to run your netlabel? For converting and encoding audio, for metadata, for ftp, for making cover art, etc.
Where do you share your releases? On your website? Free Music Archive? Internet Archive? Et al? A combination of these things?
What do you do to promote your label?
Do you send releases out for review? If yes, is it traditional media – review sites, magazines, blogs, etc. Or are there non-traditional methods?
How much success have you had in getting people to review your releases in magazines, blogs or websites? Any frustrations regarding this?
Have you had success in getting people in general to listen to your releases?
Do/did you keep track of your download numbers and, if yes, how have/did they changed over the years?
How important are/were download numbers and number of listeners to you?
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?
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?
How do you finance your netlabel, including the labor you put into it?
What do you think is your legacy or your label’s legacy?
Do you feel that you are or were filling a niche that other labels were not?
What do you think about Bandcamp and any similar music hosting sites?
Do you think netlabels are sustainable? If yes, what do you think the future is for them? Should there be more?
Are there too many netlabels?
Will netlabels be obsolete before 2025?
Does your netlabel align with any political or philosophical positions or thoughts? Do you get involved with politics at all as a netlabel?
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?
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?
What questions would you ask other people who run netlabels?