We have extended our pandemic policy until the end of the year. 100% of revenue from digital downloads purchased on our website and Bandcamp will go to artists for the remainder of 2020.
We hope you are all keeping safe and sound.
We also hope that as our collective situation unfolds, great numbers of us will find the time to deepen our appreciation for social and economic possibilities that we’ve constantly been told are foreclosed. A more equitable, just, empathetic, redistributive and decarbonized society can be forged if we continue to envision, embody and demand it. Restoring sanity, reason and realism to our governance – scientific, cooperative, participatory and social democratic – and discrediting the authoritarian demagoguery that has become the last refuge of a morally and economically indefensible neo-liberal ideology, can be the larger collective act of will that carries us forward.
Let’s all try to do that work, get serious about deprogramming ourselves, and deeply internalize new horizons of ethical, social and economic agency for the long term. We’re going to try to find the time to contribute thoughts and practices in this regard, and to amplify the many voices whose thoughts and practices are more developed and inspirational than our own.
In the meantime, within the narrow confines of our industry, some small preliminary gestures (and some general information):
100% of revenue from sales of digital albums in our webshop and on Bandcamp will be paid to the artists until the end of 2020.
This policy will last until the end of 2020. Constellation has also set aside an additional contingency fund for label-affiliated artists who might find themselves in particularly precarious or dire straits in the weeks/months to come, and for other precarious workers in our proximate cultural economy and community – independent music venues for example.
Ordering physical releases on LP or CD also supports the artists of course, and we are certainly not discouraging that. Revenue from physical sales will continue to accrue to the production accounts for each release – whether that’s to help move them toward break-even point, or to be split 50/50 with artists if an album has already reached break-even.
As of 22 March 2020, Canada and Québec governments have requested that all non-essential businesses keep their employees at home for the next several weeks. Needless to say we will be complying with this and will also obviously continue to keep our 4 full time and 2 part time people on full payroll. (We don’t have any unpaid interns as a matter of policy.)
We want to continue supporting independent retailers in whatever ways are viable and can help them survive.
Local indie record stores are for the most part precarious operations at the best of times. These will be challenging times for such bricks-and-mortar small businesses. While Constellation is among the dissenting voices that thinks every weekend should be Record Store Day and has never participated in “exclusive” RSD-specific releases, we appreciate the importance of this event for many small record shops and the fact that its postponement is an extra blow for them. Shops that are complying with local health advisories and are able to remain open or are continuing to provide a mail-order and/or pick-up service will hugely appreciate your support.
The RSD website is a very thorough index of independent record shops – start there, and consider taking the time to check out various indie store websites to see if they are still operating in some capacity. If they’ve got the Constellation titles you’re looking for (and any others) order from them!
Digital downloads matter.
But again: in the weeks to come, buying digital albums on MP3 or WAV via our website – or on the wider array of digital formats you can select via Bandcamp – is something we want to encourage. Bandcamp also provides an option to pay more than the minimum price set for digital albums; Constellation will be passing along all of that revenue to the artist.
Aside from reducing demands on shipping and delivery services worldwide, purchasing digital album downloads is exponentially more supportive of the artists than the digital alternative, i.e. streaming.
Obviously it’s been clear to us all for some time now that the major streaming platforms are fundamentally exploitative of the vast majority of artists – and certainly for almost any artist making non-commercial, long-attention span, album-oriented work. These are corporate entities with financial models that variously embody the noxious logic of monopoly/casino capitalism; the fever of market valuation and capitalisation; the assorted outrages of offshore tax-avoidance, outsourced labour, and profit maximisation; and grotesque rewards for the tiny cohort sitting at the top of these structures. They broadly, intentionally and logarithmically sideline 99% of the “content” on their platforms that meanwhile allows them to promise the world of music on demand and at our fingertips, while paying out a pittance to creators. They make deals with the largest “stakeholders” (and directly with a token number of artists to shore up their platform branding and marketing) who dominate visibility and positioning. Use these services for discovery by all means, as we all do. But should you have the financial ability to more fully express your love and support for the creation and exchange of small-scale, underground, leftfield music, then paying a few dollars for digital albums is by far the most effective (and cost-effective) way to preserve and restore value for recorded musical works. It is likely the most environmentally responsible and sustainable option as well: download once then play the music forever, disconnected from server farms.
Come what may: if you’re reading this in the first place, you share an existential need for immersive, unorthodox, genre-bending underground sounds. For many if not most people, it’s not going to be a time to spend money on anything but essentials. But if you do have the means, and music feels essential to you, and you find your music budget is somewhat freed up by what you’re saving by not going out: seek out and support lesser-known artists through the avenues above – their Bandcamp pages, their indie label sites, your local record shop where possible.
Hang in there everyone.
Don, Ian , Joni, Joe, Jack & Gabrielle