Tag Team Records Launches Retro-Futuristic Cassette Series For China
REVERSE ::: POLARITY: a new series of cool indie music from some of China's most cutting edge artists
Looking back to move forward, one of the leading independent music labels in China, Tag Team Records, is launching a new series of cool indie music from some of China's most cutting edge artists to be released in monthly collectible item cassette tape delivery formats beginning 19 Jan 2010 and available for pre-order immediately.
Music piracy has often been the key focus whenever the Chinese music industry is discussed, but this has also motivated labels in China to explore innovative methods to get more music released, heard and collected by the most relevant and appropriate audiences. With the global state of digital music already in a rut and the situation being even more acute in China, physical product like CDs are now increasingly viewed more as collectors' items. The intense work and cumulative costs required in producing, manufacturing and distributing CDs, coupled with the lengthy and nervy process of obtaining approvals from the Ministry of Culture before being granted the requisite ISBN/ISRC codes with little guarantee of returns, has amplified the burden of distributing CDs behind the Bamboo Curtain compared to in the West. Merchandising sales during band tours, which provide decent revenues in the West, are unfortunately deficient in China and merch booths are often lonely, barren places outside of Beijing.
So Tag Team Records, with the aim of getting as much quality, original music produced and distributed as cheaply and professionally as possible to a focused and appreciative audience (while maintaining the relative scarcity value that will greatly magnify the appeal of the product) have hit on a new approach: REVERSE <<< POLARITY, a monthly, limited edition, DIY cassette EP series!
After all, if all physical product issued in this region is essentially a collectors item, then why not embrace the notion with something retro-futuristic and moreover, cool. Everyone remembers tapes, right? Of course they do, if they are old enough. The younger set may simply need an introductory course. Tapes sound all warm and fuzzy, cost very little money when purchased in bulk, and are the kind of hands-on medium that typifies cool by resurrecting antiquated technology and putting it to good use!
Tag Team Records was blown away by the response of musicians both within and without Tag Team's stable, all of whom were interested to participate with submissions of serious quality. These are lovingly crafted home-baked recordings that in some respects are better core representations of them as artists than their previously released material. REVERSE <<< POLARITY will serve as a platform for them to put out a limited-edition release to discerning audiences via cassette tape. All profits go to the artists, and they also maintain the freedom and option to re-release or re-record it separately on their own. With the bar set quite high for artists currently piecing together their tapes, consumers can expect lots of aural goodness to come in the 12-month series. Kicking off with experimental artist jrg_one's ‘slim charles vs. carl sagan' EP as the debut REVERSE <<< POLARITY release in January, the series will continue with Arrows Made of Desire in February and then Kodiak Island in March, with the rest of the schedule being kept under wraps for the moment. Everything will be revealed in a timely fashion over at www.tagteamrecords.com.
The cassettes will not only sound good, they're going to look good too! Each monthly release features two-panel cover art inspired by the music contained within and is hand drawn by Tag Team's favorite punk rock artist, Pupi, who also happens to be the lead singer of Beijing disco-punk stalwarts, Bigger Bang. All other elements of the packaging, beyond the requisite label logos, are hand written and drawn by the musicians themselves with each copy out of a limited edition of 120 being individually numbered. Everything is printed on high-quality, recycled paper and each release is color-coded to look great sitting alongside other volumes in the series.
Why Cassette and not Vinyl?
As Tag Team is a label based in and focused on China, a vinyl series is unfortunately unrealistic here - despite the warm merits of vinyl - as there is no existence of a vinyl and turntable culture. This renders moot the potential of any “vinyl revival” in China, with vinyl sources being extremely scarce anyway. Most people just don't have record players. But what they do have en masse are tape players. So tapes just seem a better fit for the Chinese market and present a better economic model as collectibles.
Will the REVERSE <<< POLARITY releases be available digitally?
Here's where the forward-looking part of our retro-futuristic offering kicks in……everyone who buys a cassette will receive a digital copy of all the songs. These will be available from our exclusive download partner, Wawawa music store. (www.wa3.cn). Each cassette purchase will be accompanied with a download card with an individual code to be redeemed at Wa3.cn to access the digital version, ready to go onto iPods – though the retro tape Walkman is the first weapon of choice for maximum REVERSE <<< POLARITY aural pleasure.
Retro to Future
Tag Team continues to remain a purveyor of fine indie music and despite this dalliance with cassettes via the REVERSE <<< POLARITY series, expect new full-length releases on all formats from Tag Team artists Lonely China Day, Du Yun, Kodiak Island and jrg_one in 2010. All will be revealed in due course on the new-look Tag Team 2.0 website to be launched for the Chinese New Year in February.