Spotlight: 51beats

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The Record Label Spotlight features various excellent record labels who release under a Creative Commons license or for free download.

This time we ask a few questions to Roberto Mantovan, the founder of the 51beats netlabel.

Please introduce you and your record label to our listeners.
In the “real” world, I (Roberto Mantovan) am a Physicist doing research in the field of material science. In 2008, having lot of friends doing good electronic music, I decided to found 51beats as a pure netlabel in order to release the debut albums of my very good friends Gollywop and Spectacular Syntheisizers (Marcio&Pepè).

After 7 years, we released 48 net-releases available for the free download, 3 vinyls, 4 CDs, and organized a large number of parties and events. Today the label is managed by myself and Plasman.

What’s your focus with your record label? How do you choose the artists/releases?

We try to promote high quality, innovative, and emotional electronic music without distinctions among genres. We publish what we like, following a careful listening of the quite high number of demoes we receive every month.

“DEBUT” is a key-word at 51beats, with the discovery of new artists being among our most important objectives. To date, out of the 48 net-releases, 24 of them have been debut-albums for the respective artists (!!!). Following their debut, some of them have been internationally recognized with a range of nominations at the QWARTZ ‘Electronic and New Music Awards in Paris (Marcio McFly, Cani Giganti, Youarehere).

From 2013, 51beats started releasing vinyls in which our artists collaborate with world-wide-recognized artists (so far: Adriano Canzian, Joy Kitikonti and Lucretio form the Analogue Cops). Our ‘electronic experience’ also comprehends events organization and booking support/management for a selection of artists.

What Creative Commons license are you using and why have you chosen it?
We use the “Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs” licence. We know this is the most restrictive CC licence. We’re convinced that CC-licensing is a very good thing in terms of giving music for free to the general public and permit the widest visibility as possible for the artists.

However, we’re also strongly convinced that the artists (and other rights owners like the label that spend time&money to promote them) must retein their rights of collecting revenues when the music is used in commercial contexts (commercial TV&Radio for instance), and it’s therefore necessary to use a “NonCommercial” licence.

Also, we think the artists should have under their “control” any releasing of new versions/remixes of their work, and thats why we also apply “NoDerivs”.

Please pick three albums from your back catalog that are best representing your record label. Why did you choose them? Can you tell us something about the artists?

1. Tracya: “The Abyss”:

We’re very proud of this 24th debut album in our catalog, it well represents our attitude to surf in the most deep moods of electronic melodies, not forgetting to move slowly toward the dancefloor, but intelligently ;). The electronic music project “Tracya” began in January 2015, and it’s characterized by a mixture of ambient-related sounds produced with analogue synthesizer and sampler. The sounds are highly processed and altered by long effect chains, at the point where they are completely different from their original conditions in order to supply new and unprecedented starting points.

2. Idga: “No Pictures, No Glitter“:

This is not a free-download release, it is a freshly-published vinyl work in which the artist worked jointly with Lucretio (from the Analogue Cops) to bang the dancefloors with a pure gem in which raw and acid sounds are combined with housy grooves for a very modern dancefloor music work. IDGA is as an Italian electronic producer who grew up with post-punk. Lover of idm, industrial, electro and minimal techno, he plays slanted, skinny and experimental electronic music. Introspective dark beats, twilight tunes that winks to the dance floor: these are the main ingredients to make Idga everyday feels better.

3. The next one, out the 6th of January 2016, which will be a perfect mixture of gravity and quantum

mechanics (that’s probably a difficult one…;)).

Why do you give away the music for free?
First, this is only part of our mission, we do this when explicitly asked by the artist. From our side, as a label, we think that the free download is specially good and suitable for new artists in order to maximize their visibility. The principle of spreading culture (in this case: music) for free is a remarkable effort, since it gives potential 100% free access to arts also to the public with limited spending power, young people and less developed countries being good examples.

How are you connected networked within your country and worldwide?
The number of reviews, mentioning and podcasting of our releases has constantly increased over the years. Just as an example you can see the feedback we got for the debut album by Tracya: “The abyss”, which quite well demonstrate, how we are reasonably good connected ;).

Do you have new or upcoming works that can be interesting for listeners?
Watch out our next freely downloadable release next 6th of January by J.Sintax & Sonambient. It will be an exciting mixture between nostalgy & melancholy and happiness for the dancfloor, fully representing the 51beats nature.

What did we forget to ask?

51beats, started in 2008 as a pure “netlabel” gradually evolved in a more complex project. Since 2012, 51beats is registered as a Publisher at the Danish Collecting Rights Society Koda, which has a modern approach to the copyright rights managing, administering and collecting royalties also for artists/publishers who licence their works by using non-commercial Creative Commons licences.

Since then, we are applying a flexible releasing approach, on one hand by publishing works under non-commercial BY-NC-ND CC licence with artists not necessarily belonging to any collecting right society; on the other hand using a more traditional “all rights reserved” approach, especially directed toward exploitation of commercial uses of musical works. We think this is the most modern approach in releasing music today, from one side you are able to give music freely available to the public; but form the other side you ensure potential revenues to the artists when their music is used in commercial contexts.

We recently launched 51PROMO, a service dedicated to small labels, net-labels and unsigned artists, where we use our widespread net of contacts to help them getting more visibility.

Thank you very much for your answers.