INTERVIEW 52. bad panda records

Our current 'digital age', allowed us to experience  the plurality of different perspectives. And by different perspectives I mean the act of producing cultural content and at the same time consume it, having in mind and at the distance of a mouse click that the other exists and is more real than ever.
More specifically about music, I think net labels and the way they think music has an extremely important role to define and rethink what we call 'music', being an important key to reshape (like independent labels) the cultural market idea that music is more what comes into a nicely done package and less a way of express creativity.

That being said, today CuC features an interview with a good example - or alternative - to distribute and consume music. 
Bad Panda Records is one of the most politically outspoken labels I know. With an eclectic catalog of artists from all over the world and giving away music under Creative Commons license, Bad Panda believes in free and democratic culture where "music IS politics" (but not necessarily has to talk about it).

site     facebook     twitter     soundcloud     vimeo

Below is my interview with Claudio, founder and headmaster of Bad Panda. 

1. First things first: talk about the origins of Bad Panda. Where the idea came from and why the name Bad Panda?
The idea came during a trip in Latvia and Lithuania while exploring a forest. I think exploring new places is a good way to get new ideas. Anyway, this cute panda got a bit angry....

2. How's the logistics of running an independent digital label releasing a song every week?
It's funny. Organized on Gmail and Gdocs on the web, a couple of tiny spaces in California and Italy.

3. Do you release everything that people send to you? If you had to define a Bad Panda aesthetic (whether in terms of sound, or visual presentation or political views or...) what would you say about it?
We're listening everything that people send to Bad Panda. Thinking forward without forgetting where we come from. All the way digital music but also loving and pressing vinyls.
Bad Panda sounds are pretty eclectic but there's an invisible line that link our artists. Visuals are actually a little poor but we're working on that. Music is politics.

4. You are very vocal about free distribution. On your website, every now and then, one can find quotes and texts about what is the industry and what is music. That said, I cannot make this interview without asking what are your views on music distribution and consumption? Did internet killed the record label star?
My opinion is that the internet killed the recording industry - not the music industry and for sure not the music. The chances to be heard and creativity possibilites are never been so strong in our history. On the other hand the infinite catalog available on the internet and the easiness can undervalue music perception, and this is a strong risk of our age. I like discovering new things on the web but still love the most discovering music by their artwork cover in a cool record store, being anxious to go back home and put the needle on the vinyl. I like to think that the best way to be heard nowadays is giving away but also totally respect musicians who don't agree with that and hope fans keep supporting them how they can. Downloading illegaly tracks from bandcamp or soundcloud of independent labels and artists means you're not understanding that behind that music there's lots of work, there is a life, their dreams, their passions and sacrifices.

5. Continuing the last question: we already have different ways of consuming and releasing music. Websites like Bandcamp create an equation where the middle man (label) doesn't exist, or bands creating hybrids of albums and apps questioning the essential concept of what is a song is today. Where do you think we're going? In 10-15 years, how do you think we'll be consuming music? What will be the major problems with the industry?
I think music industry will behave in the same way of other industries. I think our world will be forced to forget globalization in some years and switch to local markets. More fragmentation and more independent acts breaking through. No idea what it's going to happen in 10-15 years though, too hard to say when everything is changing so fast even there's a clear trend now on music consumption. In the short term, I really like what CASH music is working on. 

6. Political and hypothetical views aside: what's next for Bad Panda?
The future is still bleak, uncertain, beautiful.

7. What would be your advice for people that want to start their own record label?
Be unique, be passionate.

8. Now, a quick Q&A, using the questions from the interviews you do with the bands you release...
An addiction: sounds
A quote: “We artists are indestructible; even in a prison, or in a concentration camp, I would be almighty in my own world of art even if I had to paint my pictures with my wet tongue on the dusty floor of my cell.” (Pablo Picasso)
A movie: Brazil
A place: (Sirkus or) Kaffibarinn, Reykjavik after a day trip around glaciers, geysirs, waterfalls and volcanos.
A word: Synesthesia
A video: 'Make Me Psychic' by Sally Cruikshank. Music by Robt. Armstrong and Allan Dodge.
9. Anything else you feel like saying?
Music is not a commodity.

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