Dystopiaq release high quality, unique compositions from around the world, covering a huge range of musical styles. Originally located in both Ohio, USA and Tokyo, Japan; Dystopiaq moved to Pittsburgh in 2011. I discovered Dysopiaq label in 2012, and used a selection of their fine tracks on our netlabelism podcasts. Their release roster is quite impressive. Many moons ago I interviewed one of the driving forces behind the label, James Osborne. Apologies to James, and the members of O.B.B.B.M:\/. for taking so long to publish this interview.
So if you can tell me what the label is about? who started it and why?
I had been producing music as Incentive for a few years, and I was too nervous to submit my material to any labels. I drove down to Columbus to visit my friends in O.B.B.B.M:\/ and discussed with them the idea of creating our own label to release music. We thought it could be a good entry point and eventually branch out to bigger and better things. I believe it was 2007, and it took us quite sometime from that point to finally get things in order. Our first release was put out in September of 2009.
What drives you? Why do you do what you do?
The original intent of Dystopiaq was to release our music. We had not really considered the idea of releasing music for large amounts of other producers. After we put the first compilation together, I realized how much I enjoyed getting these unknown bedroom producers together to create a compilation, and it created this strong core group of producers and friends that all wish to continue to contribute to Dystopiaq. A lot of us have common core values, tastes, and world-views, and it really helps keep Dystopiaq strong in its sense of identity.
You’re using a Creative Commons License. Why?
Honestly, because at first we had no other way. None of us really had the financial backing to release music the traditional way through copyright, physical media, and distribution. Creative Commons allows us to release music that has a license that is taking seriously by a large group of people. When we first started, we felt it gave our digital releases more legitimacy in the face of potential fans, and I think we ended up being right. Now that we are five years in, I’ve branched out and created my own private label that will eventually release physical media. But since I believe in the Creative Commons License so much, I’ll always continue to support the license by releasing music under it.
The barriers to market have been torn down, it’s much easier than before to self-release. Do you think the noise level has become much higher? What does it take to be noticed?
This is going to sound cliché; but it takes a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of luck. I don’t think people realize how much work it takes to gather e-mails in a database to store for press releases (by mining major and minor music zines, popular and even not so popular music blogs), getting people involved in promotion on social media sites, keep everything up to date so people are interested, having to branch out and make connections with a wide variety of people on a global level.
It also takes a lot of financial investment on your part unless you get very, very lucky. Even the most minimal investment in promotion will help you. There will always be somebody out there who hasn’t come across your gorilla marketing, and without a paid ad or a paid play on a radio station, that’s a fan that is potentially lost forever. So there are definitely more success stories we hear about bedroom producers and artists getting a period of celebrity and social mobility through the internet- just look at the likes of Justin Bieber and PSY. But that doesn’t mean everyone can be successful just because the “barriers to the market have been torn down,” because there is always a losing side in a competition, unfortunately.
Do you organize local events to promote your work?
Not at all. There was only one time Dystopiaq was featured at a public event. It was at a book launch party for our friend and poet Allen Hines in Kent, Ohio. I remember being forced-fed the mic and having to explain to people what Dystopiaq was (because our artists music was the background noise the entire evening), and upon looking at dumbfounded looks in the audience, I decided this was probably not a good time for the label to be engaging in public events. We are a digital entity, we exist on the net, so maybe we should keep it that way. It’s done nothing but work for us.