In January, Bang On A Can and harmonia mundi usa announced a partnership for the exclusive distribution of Bang On A Can’s new recording project, Cantaloupe Music. Cantaloupe Music represents the culmination of 13 years of ground-breaking concerts and a decade of successful recording projects on multiple major record labels. harmonia mundi will distribute Cantaloupe’s projected six annual releases.
Bang On A Can’s David Lang called the staff at harmonia mundi “unbelievably supportive. For people who were only hoping to sell 10 to 15,000 copies, all of a sudden life is beautiful,” Lang beamed. Though neither party was forthcoming on the details of the distribution agreement, Lang described it as lasting for a set period of time. “We have both done our budgets,” he explained.
Bang On A Can has recorded for major record labels in the past and will continue to do so. Having their own label, however, will allow them to provide a home for music that falls outside the interests of the big record companies.
“The current financial situation in the record industry is that projects that sell fewer than 100,000 copies are loser projects,” according to Lang. “We’re plugging a giant hole in contemporary music, and in the music scene in general – [playing and recording] music that wasn’t being served even before the record companies dried up. This is music by composers who are ‘unclassifiable.’ Music that starts with a disadvantage.”
Each Cantaloupe CD will have extensive background information on the web in the form of individual Internet pages with full details and sound clips. These will replace the program and liner notes that normally accompany CDs. Bang On A Can feels that these materials “can potentially obstruct the path of fresh listening.” The Cantaloupe CDs will be available for purchase at Bang On A Can’s new website store as well as at national record and online stores.
Lang describes the actual record sales as “a byproduct.” Rather, the website and the record company are a way to help like-minded people meet each other. “A record label is a recognition that the people who agree with you may not live next door.” Evidence of their success is the collaborations that have been formed between groups that met at Bang On A Can Festivals.
Lang believes that more groups should consider starting their own labels. He reasons that “[if a group] self-produces their own CD and sells 4,000 copies at their own concerts, they can make a living. And the people who buy the CDs can live and love the music in a more powerful way, better than if they had bought [the CDs] because of an ad generated by a giant publicity [machine].”
For more information on the first three releases, click here.