There are a lot of amazing things on Flattr, and recently I fell across a net label, and immediately felt I had to talk to them more. I sat down with Aaahh records for a chat:
To start with, would you like to tell me a little about your net label, and the main idea behind it?
Aaahh records is a fun project, not for profit, netlabel. We are five people running the label and we release cc-licenced music, that we think is great. It is mostly “hand-made” music. Our artists are all able to perform their music live. That is very important to us, because we like the idea of having bands that do not only exist online. We also book shows for our artists and we try to create some kind of an artist community. We believe in free music in the sense of giving people the chance to be part of the art/culture. That’s why we release also the source material of the songs, to encourage remixing. The music is also free in price but people who like the music can also donate or flattr our project. This helps to maintain the label and support the artists.
It is important to say that Aaahh records is a hobby and most of our artists are also hobby musicians. I would like to call them professional amateurs, because they love what they do, just as we love to run the label.
As you said, people can donate to your project via Flattr. How much of the flattring goes to the actual content creator?
Since most flattrs go to the Aaahh records project (the label) and only some flattrs to releases, it is difficult to say how much each artist gets, so we decided to divide flattr revenue 50/50 between us and the artists. The donations via PayPal we handle like this: 80% goes to the artist, 20% we keep. But all the money we make as a label goes back into the project. In September we’ve booked a house in Denmark for a week and invite all our artist for a get together and workshop/jam session. The house in Denmark is one example of what we would like to achieve with donations/flattrs. We also dream of a festival that we would like to organize in the future. Maybe when there are 20 bands/artists with us… We don’t know if this will ever happen
Okay, so you have a main profile for the label, and add your artists under it. Or how have you set it up? Since they get a part of the cake they don’t use own accounts?
No, there are no individual accounts for artists. Some do have Flattr accounts, some don’t. We thought it would be easier if there was one account and we all share the total amount. Maybe we should encourage our artists to get their own Flattr account and add their own Flattr-button to our site. We might do that, but like I said, this would only make sense when all of them had an account. Otherwise it might be confusing, I guess.
Artists already have so many accounts for different purposes and one more account sometimes is too much, if you know what i mean… But still it would absolutely make sense for them to get their own Flattr account.
How have the artists you represent reacted to you using Flattr?
I think we were one of the first people/projects who got an invitation to Flattr and I thought that it’s a great idea to implement it on our site. When we decided to put a Flattr button on the site we wrote to all of our artists and told them about Flattr. Some said it’s a great idea and also got their own account (we invited them), some said: yeah, it’s a good idea but didn’t want their own account and some didn’t care, since nobody really believes that there will be a significant amount of money involved. And of course it is true. Flattr is more a sign of appreciation than a financial concept for a label like us. But since we are not in it for the money anyway, it is great to get at least a little money and we are also happy to be able to give money to the artists, although it is not much of course. Since we started using flattr we made 100 Euros maybe.
We were one of the first projects that got a Soundcloud invite as well, so let’s hope you guys will grow up to be just as great as them. ;) I think it was even an official invitation from Flattr that we got back in the days. I am surprised how big it became (at least in Germany) and that you do a great job in developing and improving the service.
Flattr is a way to show extra appreciation to things, after the fact, and to support whoever made it to be able to do more things in the future. When at a live show, some people have already paid to be there, or paid the artists somehow, so do you think that it would be viable for your artists to bring with them QR codes to be able to get flattred when playing live? Take Flattr offline and an example from SXSW.
Oh yes, QR-Codes! We love that interaction with physical objects. I think it’s fun to do this “offlline” flattr idea and we will definitely try it soon. We thought about putting some posters/flyers/CDs with a Flattr-QR code on them in bars and venues. I personally like that idea a lot. And also for live shows, you could pass around an object with a QR-Code on it and people can flattr the printed button with their smartphones. But I have to admit that we are nerdy about this, I don’t think that there are enough people out there who know about Flattr, have smartphones and would actually use it like that. But the idea is great. Maybe NFC (near field communication) and other technologies can make it even easier to interact with the cyber-physical world in the future. Flattr could be a great way to create a monetary interaction model there.
You’ve already told me that you guys go Creative Commons for all of your stuff, and that you encourage remixing. I guess that also goes hand in hand with encouraging filesharing. Recently the site libre.fm implemented Flattr for all their accounts, so that the artists could be flattred. Is libre.fm something you guys use?
Did not have the time yet to check it out, but we will. You know, there are endless services out there, and also so many good ones. We are already beyond our limit of running this label (it is a hobby and fun project) and checking out a new service, signing up and actually using the service is time consuming. Because everything needs monitoring and maintenance in a way. We focus on our own site at the moment.