Free Range Beats began as a ‘net label’ which distributed music for free under various Creative Commons licenses. [Net labels are similar to record labels except everything being released for free with liberal usage licensing for remixing or sharing.] We wanted to be different than other netlabels of the time and encouraged artists to charge for their music so as long as a free downloadable version was provided.
At the time we were one of the few forward thinking net labels incorporating the emerging streaming platforms such as Bandcamp and self distributing music through torrents via legal torrent sites. Before these technologies and platforms, netlabels were reliant on less user friendly options like self hosting (which is expensive) and Internet Archive (which is a great resource but is tad cumbersome for both listeners and netlabels).
Since we began, things have changed drastically as streaming platforms have replaced us net labels. For a while it seemed we were no longer needed as a platform for artists to disseminate their music.
The definition of net label has since changed from its origins as time goes on and is seemingly interchangeable with a traditional label except for it’s a primarily digital operation. This was a shocking discovery and there remains some confusion.
Rather than close up shop and disappear into the ether like so many defunct netlabels, instead we now consider ourselves a record label. The distinction between net label and record label may have changed but we’re still the same old FRB.
Today Free Range Beats is proud of its roots in the net label scene and we’re looking towards the future as we always have. We still have our free Creative Commons downloads available and encourage you to check out our netlabel past while you join us for our future as a small record label.
While the role of netlabels and record labels may have changed since our start, we believe that having an umbrella to serve as a mutually beneficially music collective is the way to move forward. Many interesting things are in store and in the near future we will be branching out into physical media and traditional distribution.