The Exemplary Labrador Records

Absolut Noise has an interesting interview with Johan Andergård who works behind the scenes at Sweden’s Labrador Records, and is a musician in several Swedish indie bands including The Acid House King, The Legends, and (my favorite of the three) Club 8.

I was particularly interested in this excerpt:

How do you use the net? How do you picture the future of the relationship between Internet and music?

johan AThe Internet makes it a lot easier to discover music and so it’s a lovely promotion tool for us. It’s a great way to make people hear our music and spread some songs. We encourage people to download our singles and always give them away for free and I think this has helped a lot when it comes to people discovering Labrador artists, and perhaps especially new bands like The Mary Onettes. You can actually listen to the whole Labrador catalogue at Last.fm. Then the internet has of course made it a lot easier to buy stuff from small indie labels, either if you buy CDs or download.

What I don’t like so much about the internet is that people’s way of listening to music seem to change a bit as they’re downloading more and more and listen in their iPods. I’m a bit conservative and like having the album in my band to look at and the listen to the album all the way through. This way I feel I’m introduced to the band’s world and I let their music be my world for a while. The iPod listening has changed this a bit and a lot of people only choose a song or two from each album or artist for their playlists. I think this drives the listening to be more hit-focused, even when it comes to indie pop.

Labrador is an exemplary label as far as recognizing the potential of the internet. If you go to their site you can really explore and get a good feel for the sound of their bands. You can download the singles and spend time with them. I’ve gotten turned on to more than one through their site, and I’ve also realized others just weren’t for me after all. They’ve also succeeded in creating a cluster of people who are fans of the label as well as the bands, the sort who will be eager to hear something new simply because it’s on Labrador (see here for the Last.fm Labrador fan group). Not a coincidence!

FWIW, my opinion is that listening to singles first is just fine. I’ve fallen in love with plenty of bands because one song got under my skin, and I doubt I’d have wanted to plunge right into a whole album right away. Not all of us have the time to focus on a whole album right away. For instance, I fell in love with Club 8 because of a single on a Parasol compilation. They are not my usual cup of tea, and if I hadn’t had that one song and heard it often enough to decide I really needed more, I never would have bought their CDs. And yes, I bought their CDs.

Missing from Johan’s equation is the role of the fans who run around the internet screaming “you’ve got to hear the Mary Onettes!” (or in my Labrador-related case, “listen to Pelle Carlberg! I can’t get this lyric out of my head!“) It’s not just label to fans, it’s label to fan to fans. It’s these fans in the middle, the ones who serve as unpaid and passionate publicists online who intrigue me, and about whom I’ll be writing a paper this summer and fall. Thoughts welcome!

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