Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Do It Yourself: The Story of Rough Trade

Here's a cool BBC documentary on the history of Rough Trade Records and the rise of the do-it-yourself (DIY) musical ethic, entitled Do It Yourself: The Rough Trade Story.

As I watch this, I find it interesting to note that Rough Trade seemed to share a very similar Marxist/collectivist ideology with their northern counterpart, Factory Records.

In fact, if you watch the part about 23 minutes in where one of the label founders reads Rough Trade's basic business agreement with its artists off a handwritten note, you'll probably notice the remarkable similarity between the two labels' mission statements (RT's was essentially a cleaned-up version of Factory's guiding principle: "The artists own all their work. The label owns nothing. Our bands have the freedom to fuck off...").

The concept is/was a wonderful step forward for musicians and their labels, but a lack of business sense or any sustainable alternative business model seemed to prove fatal for both Rough Trade and Factory.

So can artists and labels find a way to work together as equal partners while embracing the benefits of capitalism? That might be the crucial question for musicians and whoever/whatever comes along to take the place of the major labels in the future.

Anyway, on with the show. Enjoy the documentary, and I promise we'll post more along these lines (perhaps next, a look at American DIY) in the near future.

No comments:

Post a Comment