ANU keeps music alive with its own record label

Posted 29 Mar 2018

Story by Australian National University

Thanks to digital distribution, artists not supported by major record labels are being squeezed out of the recording industry. But the ANU has a solution.

“Fifteen years ago, a record sold for $25-$30 and if you sold 10,000 copies in Australia, which is a very good run for a classical or jazz record, your record company could make a good profit. With online distribution, that same record is selling for about $6. If it’s on Spotify, your work can get thousands of plays and you take home cents, not even dollars.”

This is the experience of world-renowned composer and recording artist Dr Kim Cunio from The Australian National University (ANU) School of Music, who is finding it increasingly difficult to get an Australian recording deal for his art music.

“My last release was with a US label. It did really well and was long-listed for a Grammy. It sold well, yet still lost money,” Dr Cunio said.

“The music that is supported by commercial and mainstream record labels is surviving, but other musicians across classical, jazz and popular just aren’t able to make a living anymore, where a generation ago they could. These might well be the musicians who we most admire in the future”

To overcome the challenge Dr Cunio has been the driving force behind establishing the ANU Press Music—a not-for-profit model of free distribution for music projects with a focus on innovation, research and accessibility.

ANU Press Music will begin publishing music from 2019 to distribute and promote some of Australia’s best musical pieces that don’t secure recording deals with a traditional music label.

With many fine established and emerging artists unable to secure recording deals, their music is often going unpublished and is at risk of being forgotten. The ANU Press Music will provide an avenue for a digital release of this music.

“We hope this can become a repository for great music that would otherwise be buried and forgotten,” he said.

“Instead of selling the music, we will give it away. This is not about making money, it’s about the dissemination and preservation of fine work with the potential of finding new markets and new audiences.”

Read the full article here.


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