Note — Feb 27, 2022

Rethinking Labels: the Origins of Metalabel

I love this concept Yancey Strickler came up with (even though I don’t love that he comes up with it and immediately grabs the same word for his own org). Indie music labels operated with very few people. “They found and signed artists. They provided artists with creative, financial, and production support. They physically manufactured and distributed records. They helped them go on tour. They promoted their work and the larger scene.”

Riffing off of that, he proposes a media-agnostic and contemporary version of it with metalabels, “a group of people using a common identity for a common purpose with a focus on public releases that manifest their worldview.” Kind of multiplayer creator economy meets a portfolio of small bets, meets DAOs.

Could Sentiers become a metalabel? (Although it’s not like I’m in a position to finance others right now!) Would I need to join a new entity with metalabel goals? Hit reply if any of this, or other related ideas pop into your head.

A book publisher, a local collaborative creative project, an online community, an activist movement, an artist collective, a record label, and other collective cultural projects are examples of metalabels: groups of people using a shared identity for a shared purpose with a focus on public releases that manifest their worldview. […]

There’s (1) a core purpose why they exist; (2) a squad of collaborators who operate and release projects with the label; (3) public releases they put out into the world to express their worldview; and (4) rules for participation, like how they make decisions, who owns what, and their economic structure. […]

Metalabels are startups and institutions for culture. They’re a proven recipe for cultural influence with clear role models from the past, and that fit with where culture is today.

More → It mostly covers the same terrain as the article above, but their about page has this nice definition of a metalabel:

A metalabel is creativity in multiplayer mode. A model for collaboration, collective world-building, and mutual support.