Monday, March 14, 2011

A Call to Netlabels, Netmusicians, and Others

As everyone is no doubt aware, Japan was hit with a major natural disaster on March 11th. The country's citizens are in dire need of humanitarian aid.

I propose that we create an inter-label compilation featuring the work of the talented individuals of the netlabel scene - both the musicians and those who manage labels. The work that we already do is based on the ideas of charity, moral action, and global awareness, so it is only fitting that we work together with these principles in mind to assist those who urgently need our help. We would distribute this compilation for free while using "pay what you want" models on sites like Bandcamp and through donation buttons on label sites - and by giving 100% of the proceeds to charitable organizations like Red Cross, we can also generate money to support the relief efforts that are already underway. We have the ability to do this, so let's do it!

While I am referring primarily to netlabels and netmusicians, anyone can contribute. This isn't about our music scene as much as it is about the principles that guide it and helping the people of Japan. Anyone who can meet the deadline is welcome to contribute to the effort. We're all in this together.

The primary release of this compilation will be distributed through Bandcamp on April 18th. I understand that there is some controversy surrounding the website in this community due to its limits on free downloads, but it has the greatest potential to reach a wide audience due to its general acceptance online. I will be e-mailing Bandcamp to discuss enabling unlimited downloads for this compilation and automatic donation to charities. Pending the outcome of that discussion, I will be opening a Paypal account specifically for this effort and will speak with them about increasing the limit of incoming donations, as well as restricting outgoing transactions to selected charities. Additionally, I hope to release this through the Internet Archive,, and Soundcloud. I'm not aware of any other platforms that allow for free distribution, but I would love to hear about them. I am planning on talking to Amazon, CD Baby, and Apple (regarding iTunes) about seeing if they can assist with this by allowing for free downloads with optional donation. Again, I would love to hear about more suggestions.

Artists: Submit a track that you would like to be included by April 11th April 1st, 2011. I understand that this is not much time, but the urgent nature of the situation demands that we act quickly. It is my hope that this will generate enough interest to warrant the production of a second compilation that could be made over a longer period of time, but that said, I'm confident that the people of this community can and will step up to the challenge of making this happen in one month's time. Tracks should be no shorter than 2 minutes in length and no longer than 7 minutes. If you are an artist submitting music to this compilation, you agree to allow the song to be published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license (although, if it is a major concern for many contributors, I reserve the right to change it to a non-derivative license). By extension, in submitting a track for the compilation, you agree that you hold the exclusive rights to your song. You reserve the right to withdraw your submission up until the time that the compilation is released, excepting legal circumstances that require the withdrawal of the track from the finished compilation. Your submission e-mail must include your artist name and track name. Optionally, you can include a link to your main website. All tracks must be in a lossless format (.flac, .wav, .aiff). I would greatly prefer unreleased tracks, but that is not a requirement. Tracks must be submitted as links to a download, not as attachments in e-mail. There are many options on how to send links like this; my personal favorite is Dropbox. Genre is irrelevant, but please try to keep the music tasteful - that is to say, please do not submit a track with a name or lyrics that you wouldn't read aloud to your friends' children. There is also a possibility that some people will wish to contribute video to this project; if you're interested in having your music set to video, please mention that in your e-mail.

Labels: This is not meant to be a collaborative effort solely on the part of artists.The idea here is to utilize everyone's talents, and that includes the talents those who work to make our music available to the world. If you run a netlabel (or a traditional one), you can distribute the compilation as if it were your own release. By distributing this compilation in as many locations as possible, it can reach more people than it would ever have the chance to by releasing it in one location. If you have a Bandcamp page, release it there; just set it to 'name your price.' If you don't, place a donations link on the release page. If you do this, you are agreeing to donate all proceeds to a charitable organization that is providing relief to Japan (some are listed here and here). If you cannot do that, you would still be welcome to distribute the release - I just ask that you provide a link to a place where donations can be made (such as another label that has released it with a donation button or directly to charitable organization websites). And if you are unable to assist in these specific ways, please consider asking the musicians who have released music through your label to contribute to this effort and/or post a link to this page on your website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. If you wish to distribute the compilation, you will be required to publish it under the same Creative Commons license mentioned above.

Others: Please feel free to contribute in other ways! This compilation will require art; in a totally ideal situation, it would be great to have a piece of art for every song, with the name of the artist and the song clearly visible. I doubt that such a goal is realistic, though, given the amount of work that would be required both in preparing the art and with satisfying every artist and musician with the pairing of their works. Instead, the official goal is to have a cover and to split the titles of songs and their artists among the remaining art submissions. I also imagine that video could be powerful element in this; while distributing it as a part of the compilation would be difficult, it could at the very least be uploaded to Youtube, Vimeo, and the Internet Archive. If you have a desire to work with a musician, please contact me saying so and if you have a preference for the style of music you want to work with, and I will put you in contact with a musician. The deadline for art (including video) submissions is April 11th. If there is anything else that you can do to help, don't hesitate to send me an e-mail.

All submissions, suggestions, and inquiries should be e-mailed to

This is a chance to use our talents to help people by working together. If you cannot submit anything, post something about it on a social media site. Tell friends. Download it when it is released, and consider donating when you do.

Let's make this happen!

Kevin Stephens

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful idea - one I am happy to be able to help out with too! I've submitted one of my tracks :)

    All the best,
    Marc Reeves.