Urbsounds

Interview received: December 12, 2016.

 What is your name?

Michal Lichy.

Where are you located?

Bratislava, Slovakia.

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

Most of our netlabel related releases are saved and available as digital files/downloads via our web pages.

How and when did you first learn about netlabels?

I think it was spontaneous somewhere back in 2001 – 2004, I cannot remember, but it was about to share our work to community.

What was the first netlabel you heard of?

Sorry I am not sure.

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

I was inspired more by d.i.y. scene and the new field opened by Internet.

What made you decide to start your own netlabel?

To share our work with community.

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

Mostly it was easier and cheaper, now again I am trying to find balance between physical and digital, but there are only few free releases.

What is the name of your netlabel?

It is Urbsounds label but it is not netlabel, it is combination as we release also physical records. In past netlabel activities were covered by Urbsounds Collective.

Why did you choose the name you chose?

We chose the Urbsounds name as something that reflects our cultural background, we established a collective of friends to share Urbsounds as our platform for organizing gigs, releases and any related activities.

When did you start your netlabel?

Around 2002.

What is the focus of you netlabel?

Electronic music, mostly weird, experimental, extreme and interesting 🙂

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

Most of past releases yes, we usually used “no copyright” term, now we use CC and for vinyl releases there is owner of rights, usually the authors and the label. Still I like to support idea “duplicate at will” but it is great if there are people willing to pay as it helps to release future records.

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?

We are friends, and yes sure we are in touch, yes I do some promo, mostly internet.

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?

In some way it is personal, I have no guidelines. But I follow and release what I musically like, sure I try work as a curator a bit but there is always part of error and adventure.

How many albums have you released?

We have 32 releases and next 3 are coming in upcoming 2 months.

Who are some of your most notable artists?

Jamka, Rioteer, Urbsounds Collective.

Which are some of your most significant releases?

Jamka – Inter Alia (but this is not as netlabel, it is regular vinyl & digital release).

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

Yes I do some releases, I think it is fine, many labels started by artists itself.

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

It is kind of creativity related to relax and sharing the music views, work which I believe has sense does not matter that there is not visible financial benefit.

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

Most difficult I think is distribution of physical releases, challenge is to get some awareness.

Has anything about it been disappointing or frustrating?

I try to do this as positive project and if it turns into frustration I will stop.

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

Up to 5 days monthly.

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

Communication with artist, audio engineers, graphics designers, searching for distributors, working on delivering orders, try to do some promo, working with vinyl pressing company, working on legal shit. Having fun with friends and artist.

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

Our label page, our Bandcamp, FB.

What do you do to promote your label?

Some small FB campaigns, trying to get reviews of released stuff, and some ads in The Wire.

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

I try to send our releases for reviews, mostly to internet blogs or review pages.

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

It is not easy, but when review is out we are lucky!

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

Hopefully yes, I do not know how many but some definitely YES 🙂

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?

I do not know, as the person I like physical releases and I try to release always also physical part of digital release, it is not possible all the time but I do if it is possible.

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?

Maybe I answered this in previous

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

Yes I do live gigs/show but not only with artists released on our label, as a label we do not have label roster  or artists, but we do events to support local scene and traveling artists who fits our music style.

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

I work daily in regular job and I finance my creative activities such as label or my live act from earned money.

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

That in this time it is a tool which is hard to avoid and ignore.

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

It is an open field if there will be people running it and the ideas there still be the future.

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

NO, I share d.i.y. ideas and kind of tolerance and empathy but I do not do politics or any kind of religious/racist/sexist/whatever shit.

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 think all mentioned could work in synergy, I was before in cassettes, mails, and Internet changed it, but all this is great legacy, maybe kind of romantic.

 Are you aware of a chronological history of netlabels? If yes, what is it?

No 🙂

Is there anything else you would like to write about that wasn’t included here?

I think it was quite complex.

What questions would you ask other people who run netlabels?

What they do to step out of shadow? How are they thoughts about future? And all the best to community.