As some of you know, in a former life, I was a recording “artist”/label owner. From 1994 to 2001, I sat waist-deep in Grab Bag Records, whose tiny stable included such artists you’ve never heard of as Peter Stanley, Lost Causes, Fred Wilhelm, and, yes, yours truly.

This doesn’t sound nearly as impressive today as it did way back in the days before everybody figured out that all it takes to start a record label is a head full of foolishness, some money to burn, and a rock to stand on as you said “I am a record label.” They were exciting times for speck-on-the-map indie labels, to be sure; the advent of services like’s DAM program, Amazon’s Associates program, and the bright red bouquet of beautiful goodness that is CD Baby allowed the little guys to reach a global audience without breaking the bank (or relying on shifty distributors).

Still, though, starting a label isn’t the smartest investment. Most of them run from “unprofitable” to “deeply unprofitable”; mine sat squarely at the bottom of the latter end of that spectrum. Admittedly, this had a lot to do with me being something like the world’s worst businessman. Anybody who ventures out into musicland, though, is setting themselves up for some tough row-hoeing.

I say all of this by way of introduction to Stereotype Records, a self-described artist collective with what has to be the most unique business plan I’ve seen in years. I’ll let them tell you about it:

Stereotype is here for one reason: to get our artists heard. Every label says that, but we’re changing the rules to prove we mean what we say: Every song by every one of our artists is free to download.

We can think of no better way to pull down the barriers between the audience and our artists. But guitar players gotta eat too, so here’s the deal: We make it easy for you to listen. If you find that you love it, spread the word to your friends, buy a CD from the site, or go to iTunes and spend a buck on that track you’ve been listening to obsessively.

Stereotype strives to create an atmosphere of partnership between label, artist, and audience so that we all benefit. Let us know what you think.

Brave, noble, foolish, or all three? Time will tell. In the meantime, head over to the site and sample some of what they’ve got to offer. It’s a brave new world for labels — both major and independent — and just about the only thing we know at this point is that the old ways of doing business don’t work anymore. Finding out what does work will, I think, be largely the job of indies like Stereotype, and they deserve reward for their risk. They’ve made it about as easy as anybody can, so go and check them out.

About the Author

Jeff Giles

Jeff Giles is the founder and editor-in-chief of Popdose and Dadnabbit, as well as an entertainment writer whose work can be seen at Rotten Tomatoes and a number of other sites. Hey, why not follow him at Twitter while you're at it?

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