We introduced different times releases from 51beats. The indipendent label was born in 2008 having the mission to promote high quality, innovative, and emotional electronic music without distinctions among genres. They celebrate their 10th birthday with a new release from Jam’s. Le Temps d’un Rêve is out on March 1st.
We have the pleasure to premiere the track “Existence”. We also had a talk with 51beats handlers about their work of these 10 years. Take a look below.
Let’s start from the beginning. How is born 51beats label?
In 2007, I (Robidat) felt quite disoriented. Following the close of the historic Ice Age records shop in Milan, I wasn’t able anymore to find good ambient music, being at that time an enthusiast of labels such as FAX, Rising High Records, and similar. Discussing this with a very good friend (Luca Romanò) during a basketball match, he introduced me to the netlabel scene, which I was not aware of, and that was a breakthrough event for me! Surfing the catalogues of labels such as One, Khavi, Phonocake, Thinner,… I simply got impressed by the massive quality production of new electronic music around the world, all freely available through Creative Commons licenses. During those days it came to me the idea to fund a netlabel myself, with the aim of releasing music from a bunch of friends that I was already collaborating with in the framework of local parties. I still remember my first proposal to Gollywop and Spectacular Synthesizer to start telling the world what was going on in their private rooms. They got excited, and while I started to shape-up the label’s website they finalized their debut releases (Gollywop, Spectacular Synthesizer). The lunch of the label was done the 1st of March 2008, a day that I still remember very well: we were all at the Maracuja‘s beautiful flat in Milan, with a very good prosecco;).
Is there a story behind the name? And what is the central idea that connects all you artists?
The name “51beats” came out from a party we did in May 2007. It was held at Area51 near Milan, and our friend Meme suggested the name “51beats” for the gig, which later on became the name of the label.
There is not any pore-defined idea in the artists’ selection. This is mainly due to the fact that we release in any genres of electronic music. As you can imagine, there could be quite a different artistic approach and/or personal “attitude to life” between an ambient music maker and a dancefloor-banger ;). On the other hand, during the years we certainly identified a selection of artists that we are particularly happy to work with, those included in our roster. Some of them regularly release on 51beats: Marcio McFly, Plasman, Gollywop, Idga, Martino Nencioni, Crayon Mortel, Tracya,…. With all of them we surely have some other things in common that makes pleasant anytime spent together, from sharing general thoughts about life to have a beer together 😉
How is changed the music scenario since 2008?
Robidat: The strong coming-back of acid house in the recent years and the present always-increasing back-interest in electro, demonstrate that electronic music is somehow cyclic. (At least to me) it’s quite difficult to identify real step-forward and/or breakthrough passages in the last 10 years. Personally, as a label manager I am not really looking to genre-defining music. Sure, if it happens it’s great (like Hana Sent: Lampoooni – that has been identified as “intelligent joy music” by Rockerilla ;)), but is not our mission. I simply try to give voice to music that is able to transmit good emotions.
Plasman: I think that the most notable passage in music directions generally, and in electronic music in particular, is that, in the last ten years, we assisted to a sort of globalisation of trends and moods. So, if in the 90s and in the first half of 00s you can recognize a local root in music tendencies (I think UK for IDM or trip-hop, or USA for house music, etc) in the last ten years, in connection to the fast-evolving media and communication tecnologies, some sounds and music ideas belong from all over the world, without distinctions or recognizable local roots. I think, for example, to vaporwave or synthwave genre, or drone music for example. In my opinion this is the last evolution in electronic music scenario and I think that netlabelism and creative commons labels were an important step in this evolution.
What are the main complexities to handle a label?
Nowadays it is almost impossible to get your salary from music, in whatever form you’re involved in that: from managing a label or performing live and/or dj. For a small-sized independent label such as 51beats, the main difficulties arise from the need to merge your day-job and private life with the label-managing. Sometimes we receive a large number of demos in very few weeks and to carefully listen certainly requires time. A large amount of time is then dedicated to manage the websites.
A certain effort that we would like definitely to attack more efficiently in the future is to manage the booking of emerging artists. For that we definitely need support, and if someone reading these notes is interested please keep in touch with us!
What is the main satisfaction of this ten years of 51beats?
Generally speaking, the main satisfaction has been the release of (so far) 25 “debut-works”. Later on, some of those artists have been quite exceptionally recognized worldwide. A clear example of this are the several nominations we got at the QWARTZ Electronic and New Music Awards in Paris, where several artists from 51beats have been nominated in different categories between 2010 and 2013 (Edition6: Marcio McFly in the “discovery category”; Ed.7; I Cani – later on Cani Giganti – in the “dancelfoor” category and the “Gravity and Quantum Mechanics” compilation by Robidat in the “compilation” category; Ed.8: il Leprotto in the “dancefloor” category; Ed.9: Youarehere in the “track” category. They were all at their debut with 51beats, and competing with worldwide recognized artists (Alva Noto, Arnaud Rebotini, Boys Noize, Tim Raumshmiere, Erol Alkan,…) and labels (Minus, Shitkatapult, Raster Noton, Room40, Kompact, …) was simply enthusiastic for all of us. In 2013, at the QWARTZ closing party, Cani Giganti performed live at the Machine du Moulin Rouge before Derrick May, an honour for both the artist and 51beats.
In 2013 we released our first vinyl! This was a breakthrough step for 51beats. The aim was to involve internationally-recognized artists to interact with ours in order to improve their visibility. At that time we discovered that pressing a vinyl is not so easy for a pure netlabel. To get a permission to press (which is needed by the pressing plants), the label must demonstrate the payment of the royalties due to all the rights holders, and this can only be done by a Publisher, which was quite a “distant” concept for a netlabel. What to do then? We took this bottleneck as an opportunity to develop a unique publishing strategy, becoming a Publisher our-self, in a way that still permit to release works for free with CC licenses, at the same time being able to register works of artists belonging to Collecting Rights Societies (check-out our publishing strategy). We were then able to release vinyls where our artists (Plasman, Cani Giganti, Idga) collaborated with famous artists such as Adriano Canzian, Joy Kitikonti and Lucretio from the Analogue Cops, all belonging to Collecting Rights Societies at that time.