The Digital Revolution
An unknown genius who once worked at DEC said:
Digital technology is the universal solvent of all intellectual property rights.There are many people today trying to find ways to hang onto the benefits that have arisen during a strange historical singularity: for the last century or so, it has been possible for artists in various media to make a living by selling copies of their work, and controlling the copying of the copies. That era is about to come to an end, and people who either manage to or dream of making a living in the domain of recorded music (or images or text) have a choice: they can either bet their future on the futile attempts to extend copy control into the digital era, or they can find new ways to make a living.
Unfortunately, during this strange historical singularity of simple copy control, several conventions have arisen that stand in the way of musicians being able to make a living from what they do. One of these conventions is that the musicians turn over the legal copyright on their work to (generally) large corporations, who in turn keep the vast majority of any profit made by selling recordings of the music and other associated materials. As long as this continues to be the general way in which recorded music is distributed to an audience that is willing to pay for it, almost no working musicians will ever be able to make a living by selling their work. This is true regardless of the effects of digital technology; digital technology just makes this absurd convention so much more obvious.
Now, finding new ways for musicians (and other artists whose work can be represented digitally) to make a living (or even just make money) is not going to be easy in a world of digital technology: nothing, and i repeat nothing, is ultimately going to stop interested parties from copying recordings. There have been some interesting ideas on new ways to fund the production of music. But the first step is to remove the blood-sucking, profit-scavenging, commercially-driven corporations from the process of reproducing and selling recorded music.
Equal Area is a small attempt to assist that process. We fund the reproduction, marketing and selling of music that we believe in. Instead of collecting a percentage of the profits, we collect a percentage of the amount we spend assisting you to get your music into the hands of consumers: something closer to a bank loan, only with the proviso that you only pay us back if you make the money selling and/or performing your music live. You, the musician(s) retain full copyright control over your work, and are free to negotiate any other deals you wish, assuming they do not compromise your ability to pay us back.
But there's a warning: Equal Area is snobby about music. We don't care (in general) for the kind of music that you can hear on the radio 95% of the time. We're not interested in helping bands who make music which could have been made by other bands. We use our judgement, not yours, to make that distinction. Primarily, we fund music that we like a lot. To give you an idea of what that might mean, its probably best to point to some other labels: ECM, Editions E.G./Opal, Axiom, Projekt, CMP, Elektra Musician, Nonesuch, Hearts of Space, etc.
If the music you're making might appear on more than one of those labels, if you don't have an answer when people ask "who do you sound like?", if your music is cerebral even when it gets into a groove (if in fact it ever does), if you see music as about more than just a way to communicate emotional angst, if your production is as much about texture as about melody, then its possible that Equal Area might be interested in helping to get your music into the hands of a wider public. Send us a URL where we can listen to some of your music, and we'll get in touch.
All text and images are Copyright (C) Equal Area and/or Global Illage, 2001
Last modified: Tue Apr 10 10:42:21 EDT 2001 by Equal Area