»Singles are cool. Albums are boring.«, ein Interview mit Label K

Jede Woche mindestens zwei MP3s frei Haus: Das US-amerikanische Label K bietet ab Juli mit dem »K Singles Zip-Pak« für 50 Dollar pro Jahr ein digitales Musikabo an. Ein E-Mail-Interview mit Labelgründer Calvin Johnson.


Foto: © Calvin Johnson / K Records

»The K Singles Zip-Pak« is a crazy name. What exactly does it stand for? How does it work?
    »The K Singles Zip-Pak« is a jet way to musical adventure. It is a surprise pak that arrives via electronic mail each week with a passel of new tunes and variations. One subscribes to the »K Singles Zip-Pak«, just like a magazine. Or you could think of it as a utility, similar to the gas or telephone; after you open an account with the K Mail Order Dept., we provide you with an endless stream of screaming, crying and carrying on compressed into bite-sized chunks of three minute pop songs.

There have been various physical singles subscription services over the years – is that were you got the inspiration from? Have you ever been a member of a subscription service? Are you subscribed to a newspaper or magazine?
    In 1989 K had a monthly subscription singles series by my band called The Go Team; it was the first of many, pre-dating Sub Pop. This is similar, except its virtuality makes it more versatile. It will include music, posters, remixes, song elements so subscribers can make their own remixes, video feeds, photographs. All that. The »K Singles Zip-Pak« is a media picnic. You can throw your television set in the dumpster. I have my handy Kodak MC3 camera documenting many of the sessions at the Dub Narcotic Studio, and live shows, too. Here for example is a shot of the band City Center choosing percussion instruments while recording their new single. Fascinating!

    Currently I subscribe to a bi-weekly newspaper called the Progressive Populist, and a magazine published by a media watch-dog organization, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (F.A.I.R.), called Extra!

Can you see from your mail order activities that you’ve got a certain amount of people who will buy just any release? Are they the »K Singles Zip-Pak's«, target group?
     There does not seem to be a common thread between the folks who listen to the wide variety of K releases except their passion for music. It’s simple: we make passionate music for passionate people.

How old were you when you co-founded K in 1982? Do you think someone your age will be interested in the »K Singles Zip-Pak« or would you rather say that it’s aimed at young(er) people who grew up with the internet, downloads, music being available digitally etc.
    K began because I was 19 years old in love with the music my friends were making, and wanted to share it with the world. That is still the main motivation for continuing on this K journey. Most people, regardless of age, are gulping down music via digital formats: on their computer, telephones, personal listening devices, any way they can. This being so, the »K Singles Zip-Pak« is a convenient way to keep in touch with vital sounds.

The other day I asked you whether it was really important to put the name of a record label on the back of a record when most people are mainly interested in the artist / the music  and you simply replied: »Yes«. Please explain because I think the idea for the »K Singles Zip-Pak« can only come from someone who would answer my initial question with a »Yes«.
    Just as you probably don’t pay close attention to what studio makes which movie, most people don’t care what label makes what music, if they are at all aware of what a record label is. Someday they may notice the K emblem on the back of all their favorite records and think »WTF?«. Discriminating palettes know the »K Singles Zip-Pak« to be a bounty disguised as spam; a godsend, really.

Do you have artists on your label that dislike the idea of the »K Singles Zip-Pak« or, to put it more general, are opposed to music being sold digitally?
    No one has said a discouraging word. Most artists enjoy the idea that people might listen to their music and look kindly upon anything that helps facilitate this phenomena.

Could the »K Singles Zip-Pak« cannibalize your record sales? Quite a few people these days tend to only buy two songs from an album because they think it's sufficient for them …
    Singles are cool. Albums are boring.

 

Das »K Singles Zip-Pak« kann derzeit auf der Homepage von K bestellt werden, die Auslieferung des Abonnements beginnt am 1. Juli 2010.

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