Extropian Records: Let's Build a New Music Industry

Image by Maggie Zander


Extropian Records is a nonprofit record label that offers artists the benefits and support of a label without seeking profit or ownership of copyright. What we offer is an alternative model for enabling musicians to sustain their careers and gain exposure for their music. Any profit that Extropian makes beyond its initial investment will by law be funneled back into the pursuit of Extropian's mission: To enable musicians to thrive and to deliver powerful and brilliantly conceived music to the public.

Music is part of the fabric of culture. It is in the public interest that music be produced and distributed widely, and that artists be rewarded for and sustained by their work. A for-profit intermediary is not the only option for enabling musicians to succeed and their music to be heard.


The music industry, as it has existed for the last 120 years, is coming to an end. In that period businessmen and engineers converted the sounds produced by musicians into objects (cylinders, records, tapes, CDs), and then sold them, much as you would any product. After all was said and done, the artists who created the music might receive anywhere from 0 to 50% percent of the profits, and more often than not lose ownership of their masters. That model is still very much in play but it is no longer the only option. The creation, replication, promotion and distribution of recordings is newly and exponentially more accessible. That accessibility makes the old music industry upon which corporations and executives built fortunes increasingly unnecessary. One side effect of the success of the old music industry was that society at large started to view music more for its commodity power than for its mystical, cultural, intellectual, and transformative power. Music is magic, and the industry built around it was designed to serve the purveyors of business not the conjurers of that magic.

Independent Labels have presented themselves as the antidote to the "greedy majors." But indie labels mostly employ the same for-profit templates invented by major record labels. All major record labels, after all, were originally independent. Indies and majors seek the same thing: profit from music as a third party. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the for-profit models of traditional record labels, but we believe that a nonprofit record label can serve the cause of music more effectively, creatively and humanely.

Extropian Records seeks to lessen the interference between fan and musician caused by profit-seeking business models, while still offering the capital, exposure and opportunity that an independent label would.

We are looking for people interested in helping to build this new model.

email: extropianrecords at gmail dot com to get involved.

César Alvarez

follow: @musicisfreenow


The Table of Drops

The Table of Drops is a performance environment designed by César Alvarez in which an electric guitar and a bass guitar are suspended face down over a large amplifier. Within a structured improvisation the performers use feedback, gravity, a variety of tools, and found materials to manipulate and excite the strings. I highly recommend listening to these on headphones, they work much better that way.

The Table of Drops

The Table of Drops by musicisfreenow

César Alvarez and Jeremy Hoevenaar - Objects, Guitars, Feedback

César Alvarez - Tenor Saxophone (on One)
Ei Arakawa - Voice (on One and A Number of Recent Pieces)
Michael Allman - Voice (on This Device and A Number of Recent Pieces)
Sammy Tunis - Voice (on A Number of Recent Pieces)
Text on Quarter by Jeremy Hoevenaar

Produced and Mixed by César Alvarez
Recorded at Bard College July 2006


The Musical as Drama

So I just finished Scott McMillin's very amazing book, The Musical as Drama, on what was my first venture into a critical analysis of musical theater. One of McMillin's main points is that musicals have a subversive multiplicity to them because they operate on two orders of time: number time and book time. Which is to say that the time that passes during song is almost like a parallel dimension to the narrative action of the book. He emphasizes that, because of these two orders of time, the characters in musicals necessarily "double" themselves, and become two separate versions. This doubling uniquely enables a multiplicity and a sort of Brechtian alienation from a singular dramatic momentum.

"There is always a bit of cheek in the musical's revision of its sources." p. 52

"The heart of the musical is the projection of musical ability, which takes the performers into the second order of time, lyric time, and lets them extend their characters musically....The larger characters are capable of living in two worlds as though they were real and normal...They aren't, but we are glad to think they are" p.67

He says that the old imperative for an "integration" of the book and music is really a red herring, and that "coherence" is a better suited term for the form.

"Integration means the blending of difference into similarity...Coherence means things stick together, different things, without losing their difference. Most musicals are not political, but all musicals depend on conventions that translate into political terms. The political implication comes from the conventions of the musical itself, which establish a groundwork of doubled time and character, source stories reformulated into the routines of the show business, raids on private motives, most of us keep to ourselves in normal life, a delight in throwing authority off balance, and a desire to maintain song-and-dance formats that go back to Harlem and the Lower East Side. It is an illegitimate drama that disturbs the managers of our affairs the more it remains true to its roots in popular entertainment. Its aesthetic is radical, and that means its political potential is always there, as a matter of form. " p. 209

"I think the new shows will have what we have been talking about: a power of reflection running between the different modes of book and number, a sense of the irreverence of the genre, and a feeling for the anger and beauty of radical multiplicity." p. 211

I hope so!

"The Musical as Drama"
by Scott McMillin
2006 Princeton University Press


Secret Salon II

We have Salons because venues aren't fun anymore. They are too loud, too expensive and too impersonal. Come somewhere special and really listen. You are going to have a great time.

When: Saturday September 18, 8pm
Where: Secret! RSVP to: the lisps at gmail dot com (fix the spaces)

11pm The Lisps www.facebook.com/thelisps
10pm Agent Ribbons www.facebook.com/agentribbonsband
9pm Art Sorority for Girls www.myspace.com/artsororityforgirls

Here is the structure of the salon and we will look forward to seeing you there:

1. Once you RSVP (you have to rsvp via email. facebook rsvp is just for fun) you will be emailed the location 24 hours before the show. If for whatever reason you do not receive the email you can email thelisps@gmail.com
2. You may bring drinks or food or nothing at all.
3. there are 3 bands each will play for about 45 minutes.
4. Entrance is $5. This covers the basic cost of using the space and pays the musicians.
5. You are highly encouraged to come by 9 and stay for the entire evening.
6. Doors open at 8. Performances are at 9, 10, and 11pm.
7. Fancy Dress is also encouraged.
8. Location is in Brooklyn.
9. This is an 18+ event.

Thanks for participating and we look forward to seeing you there.

"That was really fun you should do that every month"
-Eric Farber after 1st Secret Salon


César Alvarez
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