I’m lucky to be part of a community of people who both make things and share things, who learn by doing but also learn by teaching. CDM is of course about creating music as it is about creating tools for music. So, this year I’m extending what we do to sharing music.

We live in an age of growing populations of music producers and expanding access to more music than ever before. Running something like a record label thus becomes even more insane — if also more essential.

So just as I understand how a DAW or DJ app works by using it along with the rest of you, I’m now diving head first into the operation of labels and distribution with you, too.

Establishment Records is a serious effort at finding a space for something new. Looking at what we have coming in the rest of 2016, there’s music that hasn’t found homes elsewhere. There’s music that lets us open up conversations with other labels and artists I think are really valuable.

And most importantly, Establishment lets us do two things that we can only do by doing. One, it’s a chance to explore and test some of the tools for distribution now becoming available – hopefully to find innovation and utility there just as with music creation software. Two, and maybe more importantly, each release will focus on not just the musical object, but inter-disciplinary connections with visuals and other fields. That intermedia connection is something I want to find with every release, partly because it’s the mission of CDM.

"Sisters." Anna Maria Olech.

“Sisters.” Anna Maria Olech.

I’m motivated creatively and personally here, not just doing this for the sake of doing it. And the first release of mine, which hit distribution over the summer, was inspired by a collaborator. I had already gotten to work with photographer/filmmaker Anna Maria Olech of Wroclaw, Poland. Anna Maria’s brightly-colored videos she describes as being a way of processing female identity. “Sisters” has as its subject two real sisters – whatever tenderness you see comes from their real-life connection. In “Don’t think of me,” she and the model played with clichés of image in a half-mocking game. The music for me was a response to Anna Maria’s color palette and visual imagination, even as we live in different cities, and texts that I wrote — two in the middle of some sleepless nights, one after hearing a lecture on hyperloop transportation (in case that wasn’t obvious).

Imaski – Don't think of me from Peter Kirn on Vimeo.

Imaski – Sisters from Peter Kirn on Vimeo.

Imaski also meant an opportunity to work together with Jamaica Suk and Missy Livingston (aka Moderna), and there’s a lot more to share from these artists and their technique, plus the labels they’re working with. Here are their premieres, on two rather fine outlets.

On Bandcamp:

and on other services:

The full release is available via any major service in your area (streaming or download):

https://est.lnk.to/-Q6KyFA

(Separate story: Linkfire.com is a really cool service.)

Imaski was the way to prime the pump with some of my own music. Now, we’ve got more music coming. There’s new experimental music and audiovisual work from Zeno van den Broek. Dr. Nicolas Bougaïeff has a fanciful techno album, with remixes by hiTHertoo, Mallone, and Mateo Murphy. Arielle Esther, an emerging talent, is coming onboard. More should follow after that.

Nicolas-Bougaïef

Zeno

Zeno’s release is particularly exciting for me. It called for a different approach, precisely because it’s more than just some experimental sounds with some incidental video. Zeno’s whole conception paired the visual concept with the sonic – abstraction transformations of sonic composition with accompanying visual/spatial translations.

We all face the same challenges in post-Internet music making and distribution. We all want to be heard. And what I’ve found perhaps a bit surprising is some of the people most optimistic about that are those who have become active in distribution. I think that’s telling – and so looking at how labels and distribution can work will be a theme we’ll cover on CDM, both inside and outside this label.

Find us on Facebook, or keep watching CDM.

https://www.facebook.com/establishmentlabel/

  • Skeptikal

    What’s the point of a small label these days, especially if it doesn’t have anymore resources than an individual musician ?

    • Pooling marketing efforts and resources with others, as is the case with https://www.voidancerecords.com, it makes sense to support others within the scene that complement what you’re doing rather than directly compete with it.

    • Presumably the point of a label is that it has more resources than an individual musician. What’s your point ?

      • Skeptikal

        I don’t have a point. It was not a complaint, but a serious question. Your defensive answer is very interesting though 🙂

        Maybe my real complaint is how indie/bedroom musicians have been fed lies for the last decade(s) by digital marketers, blogs, the Tunecore’s/CdBabies/etc of the world, making them believe that this is the age where the playing field has been leveled up, thanks to technology and social media.
        Even you , Peter/CDM, have participated in propagating this myth thru your blog, unwillingly or naively perhaps. So it’s interesting that your reaction now is “his impression was that I was more on the bedroom side than the serious label side”. Because , yes, This is serious bizness Kids, don’t try this at home ! 🙂

        So yeah, I wish people would stop propagating this hopeless lie, because, no, the playing field has NEVER been leveled up. But this lie has certainly put lots of money in the pocket of those who propagated it, the same way those who made a living during the gold rush were those who were selling the shovels to the diggers…

        • Skeptikal

          Addendum : defensive and pretty condescending answer I might add in retrospect.

        • Space Captain

          You stated you don’t have a point yet you insist on giving your opinion. Then you have a real complaint about a conspiracy of lies in some drivel about “levelling up” – whatever that means. I don’t simply want to come across like I’m just defending Peter here but I thought he explained his motivation very clearly in the first five paragraphs. Your lack of clarity is very interesting though. Level up dude!

        • Travis Basso

          I imagine the point is to curate and release music- no? Would you listen to music from a label that was no longer around? If it’s good music it is good music regardless of how it was released. Would you say that if we can’t make money we shouldn’t make music? I would think that if Establishment Records put out even only one (substantive) release it would be a success. We must always try – even when we don’t know if we’ll succeed.

          As for your real complaint it is highly subjective. I am sorry that you feel personally wronged and I am sorry that it has left you cynical (not skeptical) and hopeless. But please – don’t pass that on to others, and don’t pass the blame onto CDM. What you are describing – “this lie has certainly put lots of money in the pocket of those who propagated it” – is the centuries old paradigm of oppressed and oppressor; perhaps the oldest human paradigm.

          But Skeptikal – all is not lost! Take your anger, your rage, your conviction of failure, turn off your voice of doubt and make your next release! Perhaps your passion just hasn’t found the right home. Perhaps “the point” is to make a home for musicians just like you.

        • Ross W

          The point an indie label such as this is pretty much for promotion and to deal with the legal aspect of music releases. Working with someone who studied music publishing, for example, would be easier and more efficient than learning about music law yourself. Allowing you to spend more time focusing on writing music, touring, or if you’re not in it for profit, another job.

        • Sorry, coming back to this thread … a dark analysis.

          Believe me, I’m potentially as cynical about the role of labels. But… that’s another reason to get into it, to face those fears. And that’s why “Establishment” was really self-deprecatory humor.

          I actually hear some of the complaints here, really – even as I appreciate people coming to my defense.

          I think it’s something we need to face.

          There’s absolutely nothing democratic about the state of music today. We should be honest about that. And we should remember why we do what we do, and we shouldn’t give up.

    • Right – compete how? For what?

      Supporting others in the scene doing complemetary things is what this is all about.

      At a certain point, this was music that either wouldn’t have seen the light of day or not in this form.

      Also, on another level, it’s necessary for CDM to test running a label in the same way you can’t do a DAW review if you’ve never made music.

      Let’s back up to what a label is. It’s just a way of collectively getting music off hard drives and into some kind of distribution and marketing. And so long as there’s some collective benefit, it’s not so important how large or small.

      You wouldn’t tell someone not to do a club night because they’re competing for resources, either – if it’s effective, it often actually increases the number of people going out.

    • Elekb

      A label, if set up correctly and with a minimum of professionalism, obviously has more resources than an individual, particularly marketing-wise.

      Don’t believe that? Good luck spamming your facebook friends with your latest bedroom computer tracks.

      • Right; I think the complaint here was his impression was that I was more on the bedroom side than the serious label side. 😉

        That said… I still hope there’s a place for people to find weird stuff coming out of bedrooms. I hope the technologies we build still allow that. To me, that’s almost another discussion from any mention of a label. I still try to find some of that oddball, random stuff now and then… at least as some percentage of my music diet.

      • Skeptikal

        @Eleckb/Peter : Let’s cut the crap , shall we ? You guys are a laptop “micro-label” at best ( that’s not derogatory or condescending , by the way, unlike your comments ) and you’re already talking like you”re some Universal mogul from the 80’s coming down from his private jet in Monaco with 12 assistants, 4 hookers and a Louis Vuiton case full of fresh blow sent by El Escobar Maximo himself .

        There’s no mystique behind a label in 2016, much less tiny micro-labels like yours. You don’t need to be endowed with special powers first by Cthulhu in a secret ceremony by immortals from Atlantis. You don’t need a Stanford diploma or special talents.
        You just have to choose a name like “Established International Serious Business Records”, create a facebook/Bandcamp page, and start talking about yourself using the royal “We” and you’re set, voilà ! Suddenly you’re not a “bedroom producaah” anymore, you’re a (micro) LABEL , ladies and gentlemen.
        You’re now in a higher scale of evolution than Radiohead, Moby, or NIN because those guys are not on a label anymore, they went back to become “bedroom producaaahs”.

        And there was my point initially. A micro-label is just a vanity thing, to make oneself ( or the naive crowds) feel like that you’re more important than a vulgar “bedroom producaah” without a SeriousBusinessLabel© . Essentialy you’re still a “bedroom label”, with a laptop, a facebook page , and perhaps a 1000$ of cash to get your artists tracks mastered by a 10$/hour bedroom masterer, buy some ads in obscure blogs, and buy sandwiches to writers for some articles written about you in even more obscure experimental blogs. THAT is the reality.

        Having a “label” is not what matters. What matters is the amount of personal CASH that you have ( I say personal cash because no bank or venture capitalist on the planet will invest in this lose-lose entity called a record label today. Even EMI can’t get any fresh cash nowadays.).
        There is no difference between a “bedroom producaah” who only releases his own obscure stuff, and bedroom “SeriousBusinessRecords” labels who release several obscure artists. What seperates the amateurs from the pros is the amount of CASH you have.
        -Need media presence ? Buy it, with CASH.
        -Don’t know how to register a company, get a tax number, ect.. Hire someone who knows , with CASH.
        -Don’t have inside contacts in festivals, newspapers, Pitchfork ? Hire someone who has ( someone with experience from working in a real big-sized label) with CASH. Heck , you can even get Jimmy Iovine to work for you with the right amount of CASH, and get contacts in both the music industry and a nice big banner in the iTunes Store every time you release your bedroom produced album of vintage modular bleeps and farts.

        And by CASH, I mean at the very least in the 6 number figure.

        CASH that neither me nor you guys have. So yeah, let’s cut the crap and get real for a second.

        Sorry. My initial question was serious and sincere. Only your deluded condescending answers made me react.

        • Samolo

          Yeah that’s pretty much it.
          Most of the labels i see are people with money sharing the music of other people who can’t afford to release physically. When they usually have enough they start their own label.. It’s cool tho. And interesting to see people group around a label and sometimes an idea or a concept. They can collaborate, meet to play, dj or anything.
          Nothing wrong in it.

        • troy

          labels have never been anything besides glorified banks fronting money to artists. either in the form of royalty advances or just paying for recording, mastering and pressings. so peter is doing the exact same thing. we can all see that you are so bitter that nobody streams your songs online. do more to promote them. peter has more pull than any of these artists here. i don’t realy see what the issue is.

        • Space Captain

          Are you high?

          • Skeptikal

            High ? no, but you certainly have Low comprehension levels. I’ll explain it to you in simpler , more understandable terms : What is the difference between a “label” with X amount of resources, and a “bedroom producer” with the same X amount or resources ?
            That was the simple question that was asked at the top of the comment “What’s the point of a small label these days, especially if it doesn’t have anymore resources than an individual musician ?”.

            How in the world can someone take that as a “complaint” ???

            One person tried to prosaically & rationaly answer the question ( Hammy Havoc), but apart from him what we got instead immediately is a barrage of defensive answers from Peter & others like “Who do you think we are Kiddo ? Why are you complaining ? This is serious Bizzness ! Go back to your bedroom spamming your friends on Facebook !” .
            Maybe THEY were high when they answered, I don’t know…

          • Space Captain

            After much consideration: meh.

  • Elekb

    The Imaski “Sisters” track is beautiful, and a good sign of things to come. Cheers for your new label, Peter, and good luck!

  • Ridge Racer

    Hi Peter, some nice tracks and lovely videos. I checked out the Labels Bandcamp page and noticed the original versions of the tracks are listed as “video”, does that mean customers get download versions of those songs in a video format and a music format? I do like the idea of including videos as part of the package – even if you’re buying a physical version of an album – I wish more labels would do it.
    Cheers

    • Actually, working on that. We’ll have more explicit download options for Zeno’s track.

      Right now, unfortunately, Bandcamp doesn’t automate those options — the videos have to be uploaded a second time as a bonus download, and there’s a file limit.

      But — running up against this problem first-hand was part of why I did this. I’m going to try to send download links to people who purchased the Bandcamp edition, and see if there’s a better way on their service. For Zeno we have some different ideas, which we’ll share.

  • Mark Kunoff

    Congratulations Peter. I can’t wait to hear it all! Btw, how does an artist send a demo to you? 😉

    • Mark Kunoff

      Not accepting demos then? 😉

  • MRichisoso

    Beautiful! I have some friends who have a small rock label in NJ. It’s important to give voice to talent and innovation! Best of luck!

  • Where can us thousands of CDM readers send our demos to?:P

  • aerobiqueforgrandma

    Where can i get the records? Or is it only a online music label, not an actual record label as stated above?

  • Chris Stack

    Great music, and idea. Putting the C even more firmly in CDM!

  • pinta_vodki

    PETER: We’ve started a label! Woo!
    AUDIENCE: So where do we send the demos?
    PETER: …
    AUDIENCE: You don’t have resources!
    PETER: We do.
    AUDIENCE: So will there be physical records?
    PETER: …

    • There’s a reorganization of the contact form coming …

      Efficient ways of handling demos are another thing to research.