We have been asked a huge range of questions since we started work on Occupation Records. People have asked us about how the collective works, how people can get involved, funding and many other things.
We are working hard to figure out the most ethical, open and transparent way to operate, so we’ve decided to publish details of our thinking. As with everything Occupy, please consider these thoughts a work in progress. We welcome your input and advice.
- The label - Occupation Records
- The collective - 45 Revolutions Per Minute
- Getting involved
- The Albums
- Gigs and events
- Applying for funding from Occupation Records
- Our finances
The label - Occupation Records
Q. Why are you creating a record label? Aren't there enough already?A. Well yes. We don't need another label. We need a different label. Occupation Records is just one example of how Occupy can provide answers through action and example. We don't want to operate as a traditional label. We want to use the operation of the label itself as part of the message.
Q. I thought Occupy was against the banks and anti-capitalist. Isn't it a bit ironic that Occupation Records is raising money and aiming to sell records?A. We can't speak for Occupy, we can only speak for ourselves. However, we view the label as the beginnings of one alternative as stated in the first article of Occupy London's Initial Statement. Some members of the collective may identify as anti-capitalist while others might not. The distribution of records is neither inherently capitalist or anti-capitalist, it is simply another vehicle to spread the message of Occupy and support the work being done by the movement worldwide.
Q. The music industry is exploitative. Are you reinforcing the status quo or doing something about it?A. Occupation Records doesn't operate like a traditional label. Following a "medium is the message" mindset, the label serves as an concrete example of how a label could operate in the world Occupy is fighting for. Everything from the logistics of operating the label to relationships with artists, supporters, and workers is being re-imagined through the ethos of Occupy. While the primary purpose of the label is to raise funds and promote the message of Occupy, the label aims to serve as a direct challenge to the music industry: it is possible to escape "business as usual."
Q. How will the label work?
A. While a large part of Occupation Records' purpose is to raise funds for Occupy in London, the UK and Ireland and globally, we see the operation of the label itself as a part of the message. Some of the most exploitative relationships in business have been found inside the music industry. An industry that built itself partly through its association with social movements (Motown Records and the civil rights movement is one example) shouldn't epitomise so much of what is wrong with capitalism.
Occupation Records is part of an answer to all that. From the running of the label to the distribution and manufacturing, everything Occupation Records does is guided by the idea of the kind of world we are trying to create. We hope that Occupation Records can provide an example of how Occupy could put its principles into practice.
The label is run as follows:
- All key decisions for the label, from tracks on an album, to artwork, to modes of distribution, are made through consensus within the collective
- Each members of the collective running the label (45 Revolutions Per Minute collective) are represented by a union, either NUJ or IWW
- Decisions and financial transactions made by the collective will be transparent and open to examination
- All profits from releases benefit the movement and aligned causes. How to apply for funding and exact criteria will be announced after the first album launch.
- Ensuring distribution, both digital and physical, is ethical
- Ensuring manufacture is ethical:
- Vinyl records and CDs will be produced in Britain at a factory that pays fair wages for its workers
- All packaging will be recycled and recyclable
- All album releases will be offered through a pay what you can model (that includes free), through the label's site at http://occupationrecords.com
- Through benefit albums produced by the label in which undiscovered or unsigned artists from within Occupy are paired with more well known and established, the label will develop a platform. Artists can submit their music and have it mastered, packaged, and distributed as an album under the Occupation Records imprint, making distribution and promotion accessible to artists who would find closed doors from many of the labels, both major and "indie." The aim is to enable unsigned artists the possibility to support the movement and themselves.
Q. Who is involved in Occupation Records?A. Occupation Records was created when a group of people who had been inspired and involved with Occupy London came together to form the autonomous collective, 45 Revolutions Per Minute, with the aim of facilitating music industry support for the Occupy movement. We want to use our previous experience to create a record label that will help raise awareness of, and funds for, Occupy worldwide.
Q. What happens to any money raised if it all goes wrong?A. If Occupation Records dissolves all funds will be distributed to the Occupy movement in the UK and Ireland.
Q. Where is Occupation Records based?A. Occupation Records is based in London, United Kingdom.
Q. Is Occupation Records just about well-known artists?A. Absolutely not. We see Occupation Records as a tool that both well known and undiscovered artists can utilise to support the movement. In many cases the more well known artists can help provide exposure for undiscovered artists by contributing to the same project. The label is also in the process of creating a platform for undiscovered artists to submit their work and have it mastered, packaged and distributed to support the movement and themselves.
Q. Are you really ethical?A. We're trying to be! The point of Occupation Records isn't to be ethical because that's what's expected of us, it's to show how easy it is to be ethical if "profit over people" isn't your driving philosophy. There is an alternative. Every aspect of the label's operations are carried out using the ethos of Occupy London's initial statement.
Q. How does the collective behind the label work?A. The collective utilises consensus decision making for all key decisions, with a certain level of autonomy entrusted to each individual within the collective to carry out their remit. Each member of the collective fulfils a specific role - Label Administration, Artist & Industry Relations, Web Design and Social Media, Press and Marketing. The collective is unionised.
Q. Are you actually involved with Occupy in any way?A. Some members of the collective have been involved with Occupy London since before we first laid down tents outside St Paul's Cathedral. Members of the collective have lived on site and have been or are active in a number of the working groups including press, shelter, direct action, church liaison, legal and tech and coordinating with occupations around the world. As Occupation Records, the collective organised the Occupy London UBS Holiday Party with Thom Yorke and 3D of Massive Attack at Occupy London's Bank of Ideas, brought Tom Morello and Ani DiFranco down to St Paul's, are currently soliciting tracks from occupiers for our next album and planning upcoming events.
Q. Why is this not an Occupy London working group?A. Working groups (in Occupy London) receive their remit from the General Assembly of Occupy London. Occupation Records supports Occupy London but is an independent project to provide funding for the Occupy movement in London as well as the UK and Ireland and globally. The 45 Revolution Per Minute Collective is similar to a Movement Group as defined by Occupy Wall Street's Structure working group.
Q. How can I become a member of the collective?A. At this time the collective has filled all necessary positions to sustainably and effectively operate Occupation Records. We are hoping in the future to be able to welcome more members into the collective.
Q. What do you mean by autonomous collective?A. An autonomous collective is a group of individuals motivated by a common purpose to achieve a common objective. It is characterised by attempts to share and exercise political and social power and to make decisions on a consensus-driven and egalitarian basis.
Q. How can I get involved?A. There are a number of ways for occupiers and supporters to get involved - we've provided some details below. Do make sure to stay in touch via Facebook, Twitter and our email newsletter which you can sign up for on our homepage. You can also get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. I'd like to donate to Occupation Records. What's the best way for me to do that?A. Currently the best way to donate is through our crowd funding campaign on Sponsume.com.
Q. I'm a musician and would like to provide a track. What do I have to do?Please email a 320 bps MP3 to email@example.com. Please include contact information and credit for the track.
Q. I work in the music industry. How can I help you?A. Many individuals in the industry have already become involved with Occupation Records - some in an official capacity and others more informally. We are always working on new projects that need support. Individuals in management, licensing, promotion and distribution are always needed.
Q. I support Occupy. How can I help?A. Occupation Records exists to serve the global Occupy movement but we need help from occupiers around the world to make this happen. We need help getting the word out, with initial donations, organising local gigs, promoting releases, submitting tracks, and offering feedback. More importantly, how can we help you?
Q. What albums have you got planned?A. We are in the middle of finalising our first release, Folk the Banks, a folk benefit album with cover artwork by Jamie Reid, the artist behind the Sex Pistols' artwork including God Save the Queen. Featured on the album are some amazing artists, among them Ani DiFranco, Tom Morello, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Billy Bragg, Chumbawumba and Anais Mitchell. There are other albums being planned and we will be announcing details shortly. We can't give everything away just yet!
Q. When can I buy an album?A. We are currently finalising distribution details for the Folk the Banks album - due February/March.
Q. What merchandise is available? When? Where?A.We will be announcing details of merchandise shortly.
Q. I hear you are planning gigs?A. Yes indeed. We will let you know as soon as we can. As with everything the label does these will be within the ethos of Occupy with sliding scale admission and no one turned away for lack of funds.
Q. How do you get funding from Occupation Records?A. Criteria for getting funding from Occupation Records will be published shortly. We will be asking occupiers around the world what they see as priorities for them to help the movement grow and become more sustainable so that the projects we fund can do just that.
Q. Is there anything you won't fund?A. We won't fund political parties or anything that violates the ethos of Occupy.
Q. Why are you asking for money? Are you looking to profiteer off Occupy?A. No. Occupation Records has two purposes - to raise funds for the movement and spread Occupy's message to new and broader audiences. Those involved with Occupation Records see the label as an autonomous part of the Occupy movement.
Q. Do members of the collective get paid?A. One of the core concepts behind the label and the collective is to find a working model that will allow Occupy as a movement to become sustainable. As part of this, we will endeavour to ensure that everyone who works full time at the label will receive a sustainable wage.
Q. Do artists and other contributors get paid?
A. We are very grateful that well known artists are donating tracks and time to help create and build this project to fund the Occupy movement and make it sustainable.
With upcoming and undiscovered artists, the label is in the process of creating a platform for undiscovered artists to submit their work and have it mastered, packaged and distributed to support the movement and themselves. We will be announcing further details when the platform is ready. For other contributors, we hope to be able to pay a fair wage to those who contribute to the work of the collective on a pro rata basis.
Q. Where do the profits go?A. Occupation Records is a non-profit social enterprise and all profits go to the Occupy movement, distributed to Occupy London (25%) Occupations in UK and Ireland (25%) and globally (50%).
Q. How is it decided which applications to fund?
A. Criteria for getting funding from Occupation Records' global fund will be published shortly. We will be asking occupiers around the world what they see as priorities to help the movement grow and become more sustainable, so that the projects we fund can do just that.
Decisions will be based on whether the application meets the criteria developed.
Q. What are the start up funds to cover?A. The initial funding asked for includes office set up costs, marketing, licensing, manufacturing and worldwide distribution costs. Anything left over, for example if we secure something for free, will be counted as "profits", and treated and distributed as such.
Q. Are you trying to source things for free?A. Of course. If you can help please get in touch.
Q. Will you be publishing your accounts online?Occupation Records will be publishing details at regular intervals - most likely quarterly - about our own finances, as well as the fund we are creating for Occupy around the world. We will announce further details of this when we open applications for funding.