As the new year kicks in, there’s already been a lot of positive news for bands and musicians. Sales are up, both for physical formats and streaming services, meaning that the feared Death of Music has failed to materialise. People are still willing to pay for their singles and albums – whether that’s for a limited edition vinyl or just an ad-free listening experience – and that creates a real opportunity for all the new bands and jobbing musicians out there. You just have to work out how to get a piece of the pie.
But that’s easier said than done. Relentless gigging is a start, but you’re probably still constrained by your day job. Getting your stuff online helps, but it’s easy to get lost in the mix when there are approximately seventy gabillion other acts trying to do the same thing. And creating physical records? As if. You’re not made of money.
Which is where Tapeheadz comes in. A collaboration between Public Pressure and London-based craft brewery Brewheadz, Tapeheadz allows artists and venues to produce small runs of cassette tapes at zero cost. Whether it’s for a band that wants something they can sell at gigs or a pub that wants to put together a recording of a live event, the project opens up a whole new range of options for music producers and fans.
The benefits go even further. With streaming, the focus is on the music as the be-all and end-all. However, as those who have embraced the resurgence of vinyl understand, the artistry of the physical product can hugely improve the listening experience. The artwork, the sleevenotes, even the colour scheme – all these choices that the artist makes are part of the experience for the fan and of the creative process for the musicians themselves. It can even be an important revenue stream for the visual artists and writers who are also trying to get by in the hostile freelance gig economy.
The creation of a tape can utilise all these people, supporting the DIY subcultures that make our scene so vibrant. The very first Tapeheadz product – Renegades V1 – has demonstrated this, with just a handful of its run left for sale. Not only have six bands had their music out there, but the wonderful artwork of Conrado Salinas has been given a platform, and even my small contribution to the sleeve copy gets a mention. It’s a team effort that brings creators together in a way that digital music can’t replicate.
For fans who want to support the music they love, these tapes are an affordable way to give something back, while getting an exciting and unusual item for themselves. For musicians, they represent a new way of thinking about production and distribution, and could be the start of something big. With Tapeheadz already talking about the potential follow up to Renegades V1, this is the time to get involved. Make 2018 the year you take back control of the means of production. A whole new audience – and a brand new team of like-minded creators and collaborators – awaits.
For more details and how to get involved, have a look and sign up at our Tapeheadz page.
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Artwork by Conrado Salinas