[BLOG] IS “NETLABELISM” DEAD?

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free_musicWhat is the role of a netlabel in the current streaming-everywhere & everything society?


Born in 2008 as a pure netlabel (=a record label distributing music in the digital form making it available for the free download through Creative Commons licenses), at 51beats we are now curious to get your opinion about the current real benefit of keeping this model as it was in the previous years.

What are the benefits for the general public? And for the artists? And for the labels?

Write here your thoughts!

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23 commenti

  1. Netlabelism will not die.

    Benefits por public: Curation, free music, open music, fair use to reutilization.
    Benefits for artists: Creative freedom, free promotion, real interested listeners and followers.
    Benefits for the labels: Proud and Love, interconnection, experience.

    • I hope. Regarding the ‘public’: it would be interesting to know the total ‘volume’ of downloaded CC-licenced tracks/songs today…
      Artists: agree on all except the ‘free promotion’ concept: good promotion always comes following (at least) reasonable efforts from the label, if the label doesn’t do anything more than putting the release on a website…then for the artist is the same as self-releasing in my opinion.
      Regarding the label: agree on all 😉

      • Since June of 2008 our music was direct downloaded 492,436 times. Much more than I imagined. Totally agree about lack of promotion in a label is the same as self release. Regards from Mexico.

  2. Corrado Gemini

    benefits for public: u get better music than industrial model, because u help developing a system in which research and access are encouraged and promoted.

    benefits for artists: music goes around more, still u get control over commercial uses so u get a sustainable system while following a fair licensing system that prevents big companies from holding enormous repertories (sony+warner+universal currently holds the royalties for more than 50% of music published from 1932 to today).

    benefit for labels: benefits for the label are more or less the same benefits the artists get.
    Labels shifted today from production to distribution and promotion so their benefits grow as artists career grows.

    I think the real problem with CC is that there’s no collecting society who can manage and collect royalties in a efficient way.

    No working collecting = u are out of the market, or at least you stay on the low-low-low-level of professional music market.

    working collecting = u have a working and fair choice who can compete on the market against copyright industry.

    CTRL Project ( http://www.ctrlproject.org ) and C3S ( http://www.c3s.cc ) are actually trying to achieve this objective.

    • benefits for public: u get better music than industrial model, because u help developing a system in which research and access are encouraged and promoted.

      “better music” according to who? music is always good, and everyone find his best. Don’t think (unfortunately) that this can be tuned by a net- vs an “industrial-” type of label

      benefits for artists: music goes around more, still u get control over commercial uses so u get a sustainable system while following a fair licensing system that prevents big companies from holding enormous repertories (sony+warner+universal currently holds the royalties for more than 50% of music published from 1932 to today).

      music goes around if someone works on this. Lot of netlabels don’t do any promotion. More importantly: the control over commercial use is NOT guaranteed “by default” simply copy-pasting the CC licence code: if a CC licenced track is not registered to international repositories (i.e. BIEM…) and it is used commercially, first of all you need to find this out by yourself (almost impossible) and then you must go to a lawyer to start an infinite route. At the moment the only option is to make use (or establish one ! NON-LUCRATIVE) collecting rights society that allows CC artists to release their music still in CC but simultaneously registering the tracks/songs to the international repositories so that commercial uses (i.e. radio) can be tracked and payed back.

      I think the real problem with CC is that there’s no collecting society who can manage and collect royalties in a efficient way.


      YES YES totally agree… but some collecting are doing this around EU fortunately….

      • BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FREE DOWNLOAD vs STREAMING? ARE “STANDARD” NETLABELS STILL HAVING A CHANCE ?

        • Corrado Gemini

          i dont get the problem with streaming or freedownload… same stuff

          they’re both good ways to make music go around.. digital music selling is not a business, nor via streaming or via download.

          streaming platforms are industry oriented (48% of spotify is owned by the 3 majors) and the biggest digital music selling services too (itunes store for example) so it’s harder to promote independent music… this is a problem i think…

          the problem is “who owns the platforms?” and not “streaming vs freedownload” in my opinion

          • Wait wait. General public: as far as i can understand talking to people (friends, colleagues, at the bar, wherever,…NOT with the ‘experts’), if someone wants music simply try to find the way to stream it (youtube, spotify, soundcloud etc…), and rarely wants to dwld a mp3 anymore… that is the origine of the original question. If netlabels get stucked with the original model of free dwld in my opinion they will simply slowly disappear because no one will anymore find their music around (i.e. On common – unfortunately often commercial- streaming platforms)

          • Corrado Gemini

            i agree with you, an evolution towards streaming should totally happen in netlabels scene in order to stay on people’s ears.

            yet i think there’s market for high quality download (for dj’s), free or not (cause i like to point this out: CC doesn’t necessarily means free download.. it just means no punishment for spreading musical products! )
            there’s a lot of space between those 2 things i think

      • Corrado Gemini

        “better music” according to mathematics.

        the more you close music into “all rights reserved” licenses, the less music is available in the future for elaboration and evolution.
        Today’s mainstream music is getting more and more simpler due to this unavailability of public domain sources (and by marketing industrial choice)

        info -> http://www.nature.com/articles/srep00521

        for the control over commercial music: yep, u dont have control if there’s no collecting society to do the control work… but still is a license that allows you to earn from commercial uses, the point is getting this to work fine for everyone… which other collecting societies are accepting and managing CC music other than c3s ?

        and sure, there’s no “goin around” without promotion work and many labels still don’t get this… promotion became the main task of a label today.

  3. Plasman FiftyOne Esprimo una mia perplessità sull’argomento. Prescindiamo per un attimo dal diritto d’autore (che è tutt’altro problema, complicato e grave) e quindi dalla scelta tra CC e All rights reserved. L’attuale sistema di distribuzione digitale incentrato sullo streaming ha comportato, secondo me, un avvicinamente di fatto tra netlabels (e quindi pubblicazione di opere fruibili gratuitamente) e le label tradizionali, che pubblicano su spotify e tutti gli altri portali di distribuzione digitale commerciali. Spotify (e gli altri) per lo streaming dei pezzi pagano una cifra infinitamente bassa ad artista e label. Correggetemi se sbaglio, ma lo streaming di un pezzo su spotify frutta ca. 0,03 euro o forse meno. Dunque, al di là delle definizioni teoriche, sostanzialemente non c’è nessuna differenza tra label e netlabel nell’attuale sistema di distribuzione musicale. Chiariamoci, io non sono un detrattore del movimento netlabels, anzi sono convinto che sia stato l’unico movimento che abbia concretamente provato a creare un alternativa agli squali della distribuzione commericiale della musica. Detto questo, attraverso plurimi passaggi (dal fisico al download, dal download allo streaming) il risultato è che artisti e label sono praticamente tagliati fuori dalla distribuzione degli utili legati alla propria musica. Questo, unito alla mancanza di tutela effettiva del diritto d’autore come diceva Corrado Gemini, mi fa pensare che è necessaria una rivoluzione diversa e più forte rispetto a quella delle netlabels. E qui, servono idee…

  4. Well, netlabelism is not dead since free crative and music projects exist.
    Of course we mist realize that a model changing from download in to an efficent and low or zero managing costs streaming content is due

  5. Per come la vedo io, co-owner e art-director di una netlabel presente in rete da quasi 20 anni, la situazione non è delle migliori. Ho visto molte labels amiche chiudere i battenti e molte di quelle esistenti faticano a proseguire. La passione è un motore che ha grande potenza ma quando anche l’ultima goccia di benzina finisce si deve fare il pieno e non sempre c’è la volontà per farlo. Ultimamente noto che molte labels digitali pubblicano anche lavori fisici e a pagamento, cosa capibilissima ma che le trasforma in normalissime etichette indipendenti. Per quanto riguarda la nostra crew, credo il nostro compito sia quello di aiutare gli artisti emergenti a farsi sentire, ascoltare. Questo possiamo fare con i zero mezzi che abbiamo a disposizione. E’ già una gran gioia vedere gente che ha pubblicato una prima release digitale con la tua netlabel e dopo qualche anno scoprirli oramai lanciati in tour esteri e con belle produzioni discografiche al loro attivo. Non ci aspettiamo nulla di più perchè senza finanziamenti, nulla di più è possibile fare.
    L’importante è mantenere una linea riconoscibile, pubblicare materiale veramente valido cercando di creare una sorta di luogo di aggregazione attorno alla label. Questo è motivo più che sufficiente per affidarsi ad una realtà digitale che sa donare visibilità, altrimenti difficile da raggiungere quando si pubblica in ‘solitaria’ su qualche piattaforma tipo Bandcamp.
    Il resto è solo passione…e Suono.
    mirco salvadori – laverna.net

    • D’accordo su tutto.

      Personalmente non vedo per forza di cose utile continuare a distinguere ‘scena netlabel’ da ‘scena indipendente’. Come 51beats abbiamo per esempio ampliato i nostri orizzonti con unico Obiettivo quello di andare incontro alle esigenze degli artisti, che di volta in volta possono valutare l’impiego di licenze CC o meno….ci consideriamo quindi una label indipendente che impiega (anche) licenze CC, senza farne però un fine ma semplicemente un mezzo, quando serve.

      D’altro canto capisco benissimo la voglia di ‘staccarsi’ di dosso l’adesivo di ‘indipendente’ cercandone un altro, dato che chi dovrebbe essere ‘paladino’ degli indipendenti (non faccio nomi) mi pare stia collaborando con il festival di sanremo…hahahaah, no comment ;)…

  6. At least part of this interview is helpful to our discussion here: https://thecreativeindependent.com/people/anohni-on-art-corporations-and-the-music-industry/

    “People don’t want to pay for music”

  7. FOR THE PUBLIC:
    – Easier download (without the need to register)
    – Mostly lack of download options (often only MP3, no WAV, FLAC)
    – Lack of quality (a lot of netlabels don’t care about mastering and release music which could sound way better)
    – No Streaming on Spotify / Apple Music
    – Free!

    FOR ARTISTS:
    – Releases will (probably) stay online forever (when hosted on archive.org), artists can forward a link to their grand-children
    – Much less promotion compared to quality commercial labels
    – Listeners will not be the common audience of a certain musical style, more the netaudio scene (netlabels are often no part of the musical style-scene)
    – Most online magazines / blogs don’t publish reviews about netaudio releases
    – Music cannot be found through common download-sites like Juno Download, Bleep, Beatport & co (this also means music will not be featured in charts
    – There are not many websites featuring netaudio music, their reach is nothing compared to scene-specific websites featuring commercial music

    FOR LABELS:
    – Easier to handle (no need to deal with royalties, nobody has to get paid, great freedom)
    – Can be run on the side (a traditional label will be harder to run on the side, as it involves more costs)
    – Can be very specific as the motivation is not in maximizing download counts

    • Hi Tim, very interesting an exhaustive summary, thanks.
      In my opinion you nicely evidence the limit of a “standard” netlabel: in the lack of promotion an attention to quality, you can rarely give real benefit to an Artist, which is therefore tempted to self-release, with whatever licence (CC or not).

      Netlabels should make an effort to find the way to emerge in the music panorama, acting as a “standard label” in terms of quality, promotion, etc..; at the same time evidencing the “innovative” licencing strategy.

      All that said: DOES THE DOWNLOAD OF FILES STILL MAKE SENSE IN THE STREAMING ERA ?

  8. Interesting article “Why Is YouTube the Biggest Music Service In the World? Just Ask a Music Fan”

    http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2016/12/15/youtube-biggest-music-service/

  9. What a Label With 2.5 Million YouTube Streams Actually Earns ?

    have a look to this report:
    https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2016/04/24/what-a-label-with-more-than-2-pt-5-million-youtube-streams-actually-earns/

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