Spettro Records

Interview received: December 3, 2016.

What is your name?

 Nicola Boari.

Where are you located?

Bologna, Italy.

Do you save any materials – digital files, emails, physical materials – related to your netlabel? Are you interested in organizing or archiving them?

All I release is both on the label’s website, Archive.org and Free Music Archive.

How and when did you first learn about netlabels?

About 2004/5, I was looking for noise music, and found loads on Archive.org.

What was the first netlabel you heard of?

Dadaist audio and Noisejoy who released my first work as SLP.

What are some netlabels that inspired or influenced you? Or that you admire?

Those two I guess, they were my first inspiration.

What made you decide to start your own netlabel

Me and my friends had been playing and recording so much material at the time and we didn’t have outlet for it. We tried sending it to conventional labels but our work was not good enough or people just didn’t bother responding or checking the mail. It was expensive to send cds all over the world, there wasn’t (or I wasn’t aware of at least Megaupload and such). I didn’t care about getting paid anyway, just making our work freely available and reach the widest audience possible was more important than keep struggling to have a cd nobody would probably buy (cds were dead already and vinyl not as popular as now and anyway not affordable).

What were the reasons you had to choose releasing music for free? And why did you choose to not release physical albums?

I’m not much of a record collector and grew up downloading first through Napster then Soulseek, which is still great, so it was only natural to release music for free. I do buy albums at live shows, but I’m not going to pay a digital one, unless it’s for supporting the artist (I think there’s a difference between making an album for profit and making an album so that you can keep making music and release another).

What is the name of your netlabel?

 Spettro Records.

Why did you choose the name you chose?

It was chosen by one of the initial members of Spettro (3, and I’m the only one standing). As I interpret it and made it mine Spettro (spectrum in Italian) refers to both the vibration and representation of sound in all its individual expressions. The different frequencies make a whole and individual sounds, the different aims, experiences and feelings and hopes make a sound which is individual and unique and layered and personal. It can also reflect the colors of the rainbow of course. It’s the reflection of light in water generating this spectrum of illusion in the sky which you will never reach. The depths of the souls expressing themselves through sound will never be fully understandable, not even by the self. What we see as rainbow is just an illusion, and music is personal to all of us and intangible and always changing. Music is not an object which should be sold and used as any other commodity, not is art, nor are rainbows.

When did you start your netlabel?


What is the focus of you netlabel?

Anything unconventional and intimate. If it’s conventional it means you don’t have much to say.

Are your albums released under creative commons, copyleft or copyright? Why did you choose the method you chose?

Creative Commons. I, and the artists mostly, want them to circulate free and be shared, and remixed and everything, provided that there’s no profit involved.

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?

I try to keep in contact and I’ve developed friendships I guess and our relationships go beyond music. Building relationships is what makes me happier about managing a label.

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?

 Sometimes I approach them, most of the time it’s them approaching me. I try to promote them as much as I can, which isn’t that much. I will upload the albums everywhere possible, share them on Facebook, Tumblr, register them on Discogs, if I know of some venue around here I’ll share contacts and email them, but I can’t do much else and wish there could be more.

How many albums have you released?

About 150.

Who are some of your most notable artists?

Z’EV, Mister Drey, Salomè Lego Playset, Umanzuki, Your Marginally Talented Photographer Girlfriend, Alex Kubotha, Kenji Siratori, D.B.P.I.T., Fecalove, DJ Balli, and many more.

Which are some of your most significant releases?

Z’EV’s A Maze Sing Wave on tape (I rarely do tapes and then after a while put them for free download). Mister Drey’s There is No Us, Pistol Jazz, The Original Soundtrack, so many.

Do you release your own work on your netlabel? What do you think of that practice?

Yes, I do. It wouldn’t fit much elsewhere and it’s faster.

What do you enjoy about running your netlabel? What do you get out of it?

As I said, relationships and friends from all over the world and the privilege of listening to and selecting amazing music.

What are some difficult things about running the label? Or what are some challenges?

Money. There isn’t any. Time. Frustration of people looking down on you as they feel free music is not as good as the one you pay for. The difference between releasing on Youtube and Bandcamp and netlabels is no more though. The careful and independent listener, bold enough to venture away from traditional labels which mean nothing anymore, will understand and listen deep and find great material.

Has anything about it been disappointing or frustrating?

As above. Also, little collaboration between netlabels. At least Netlabel Day is a start, but it struggles to reach broader audiences. Listeners pretty much still stick to what’s popular, and netlabels are never popular.

How much time do you put into running the label? Approximate hours per day, week or month?

Too much I think, as I have a life and work. Hard to say how many.

Can you describe all the work that you do on a regular basis in order to run your label?

Emails (I do receive many and answer pretty much all of them, sorry if I fall behind or forget some), sharing on FB, uploading tons of stuff on all the platforms aforementioned. Sometimes, if I can, I do the newsletter.

Where do you share your releases? On your website? Free Music Archive? Internet Archive? Et al? A combination of these things?

Combination of all.

What do you do to promote your label?

Free music, in all its nuances and ways.

Do you send releases out for review? If yes, is it traditional media – review sites, magazines, blogs, etc. Or are there non-traditional methods?

Rarely. They mostly want a free record and I don’t (rarely) release physical copies and won’t waste them.

How much success have you had in getting people to review your releases in magazines, blogs or websites? Any frustrations regarding this?

Zero success.

Have you had success in getting people in general to listen to your releases?

Sometimes, mostly the artists themselves reach me because they found something of their liking from Spettro and hence contact me and feel Spettro could be a nice home to their work. Outside of this, very little, people don’t bother much thanking, not me, but the artists themselves.

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?

Yes and no. More and more the object is becoming insignificant, although this resurgence of vinyl is somehow worrying as the object itself is back in the centre of attention (the cd and tape were anonymous, while the record has a perceived superior quality. The costs of vinyl are also so high that producing and buying is undemocratic and makes it more difficult for musicians to emerge now.

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?

Depends on their expectations. Most artists releasing here don’t care about fame.

In addition to promotion, publicity and releasing albums do you organize live performances or festivals for your artists?

I tried and have done some shows here, but it’s a hassle as everyone wants to do the same and there’s so much offer that the most unpopular (experimental, noise etc, for free also) don’t get much space.

How do you finance your netlabel, including the labor you put into it?

Out of my own pockets.

 What do you think about Bandcamp and any similar music hosting sites?

They’re cool but have made it harder to netlabels. A great tool for musicians but there’s way too much stuff.

Do you think netlabels are sustainable? If yes, what do you think the future is for them? Should there be more?

They pretty much have a short lifespan as satisfaction from it is very little. Hard to say, I would have said no hope until some time ago as Bandcamp and Soundcloud, Spotify and Youtube seemed to have made them a thing of the past, but these tools have proven not to be free AT ALL and very much cluttered and littered. Soundcloud you have very little free space and is full of spam. Bandcamp with the wav policy makes it impossible to upload in reasonable amount of time. Spotify you gotta pay for uploading as far as I know. Youtube works, as google, in mysterious ways and unless you’re a meme or something nobody will notice you.

Does your netlabel align with any political or philosophical positions or thoughts? Do you get involved with politics at all as a netlabel?

Not much, but I and the label are antifascist, anti-regime and for free culture in any sense. So yes, I guess it is political as little as that means,

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?

Yes, physical and free download versions coexist nicely. Physical releases are for shows for example and limited. Podcasts will sometimes use your music, net fiction I have no idea but guess so.

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?

Not really.

What questions would you ask other people who run netlabels?

Let’s exchange material.