Thinner is one of Europe’s leading netlabels, releasing high-quality electronic music on a non profit level. Since 2001, the Frankfurt based label is to electronic music what Dischord is to punk, namely a reaction to the growing commercialisation of music by falling short to music industry’s expectations and releasing music autonomous to their monopoly.
Instead of fulfilling marketing plans, the label aims for musical quality. As Sebastian Redenz, director of Thinner points out, the label tries to draw “a circle of ambient, house and dub sounds – centred in between as a interconnection of these genres is minimalism.” So, the current roster of Thinner includes the exotic electronica of krill.minima, the micro house jingles of Gastón Arévalo or the deep yet melodic dub-techno of Laura Palmer for instance. The label is affiliated with Autoplate, which concentrates on releasing ambient and experimental electronica only. Highlights are Twile’s deconstructed neoclassicism or ku Off The Sky’s symphonic soundscapes.
On November 15th Thinner set up a new homepage for a better distribution of their releases. Instead of the sparse design the new site is going to be a development both in design and usability. Furthermore it is going to introduce a new corporate identity for Thinner, which starts to offer buyable 320kbps and FLAC downloads. At first sight, this seems to be a breach with Thinner’s intention, but Sebastian explains, that currently the quality of his output is restricted by the GEMA, who doesn’t approve their artists to use alternative licensing models. As many interesting artists are part of that society, netlabels may not work with these artists. Thinner doesn’t want the GEMA to direct their release policy anymore, so the label will have to offer paid downloads in order to enhance the quality of the output. Paid downloads are by no means strictly exclusive, there is also the option to offer regular free 192kbps downloads.
Asked for the intuition of running a netlabel, Sebastian replies: ”Our inspiration in building up Thinner to what it is today derives from the technologic possibilities that became available several years ago. First, the internet made it easy to find likeminded people to work with on a common goal with the same spirit. Second, the development of digital media formats such as MP3 became the leading indicator for the evolvement of netlabel – with internet, email and mp3 you can possibly reach a global niche market within seconds. The financial investments became insignificant.”
Basis of the label’s work are Creative Commons licenses, an alternative form of contracts for licensing digital media content, which assures the d.i.y. activities of the label. The licensing modules are flexible and adequate given the distribution possibilities the internet has made available but still sticking to a form of artist’s copyright. Part of the label’s reorganisation is a change in terms of using these licenses, too: “We will also drastically enhance the licensing methods – since most of our catalogue is royalty free it is quite interesting for all sorts of business who are interested in licensing modern electronic music. Licensing deals generated money in the past as well, but we never promoted this possibility on the homepage. This is going to change.”
To Sebastian, a reason for the soon to come end of selling music seems to be the overprice of physical and digital mediums in contrast to the low prices of dvds, flatrates or videogames which offer more entertainment than a 74 minute only long cd or mp3 missing any haptic or visual quality. Nevertheless he is optimistic for the future: “Although the recording industry still sues their customers with ridiculous lawsuits I’m sure that the industry will settle to open formats the other day as customers are not willed to accept anything else than that. I think that reducing prices significantly would encourage more people to purchase the music instead of using file sharing networks.”