Third Nature Recordings

The manifesto of our co-op music collective.

Third Nature is an artist-controlled cooperative record label. Our mission is to make music more equitable for artists and to operate transparently and ethically. We aim to bake transparent, mutualist values into the financial, legal, and curatorial structure of a record label.

Our intentions are not by any means new, or necessarily radical. But we hope to respectfully build on traditions of collective solidarity and support of adventurous and vulnerable voices that has always been implicit in underground and DIY music communities.

Our aim is to work with and alongside traditional indie labels that continue to do good work, not compete with them or oppose them for having differing structural practices.

Traditional independent labels operate with organisational practices inherited directly from for-profit megacorps, but repurpose them to operate at a smaller scale. This structural inertia inevitably encourages necessary evils in label operations, like lack of parity in decision-making, privacy and obscurity around artist contracts, and a disconnection between artists and the financial and legal aspects of the creation of music.

We believe it is unproductive to merely call for ‘cutting out the middleman’ and disregard the labour and intent of those who invest in our music communities. The mercenary independent musician, bulk-uploading audio content designed to please an algorithm for better playlisting, benefits no one but large online streaming services who sell music as auditory wallpaper.

Taken to its extreme, this artist-as-mercenary model leads to a world in which there is one streaming record label called Spotify. But that boring future will only occur if music communities completely atrophy, and we’re actually pretty optimistic that this won’t happen. We propose that music communities are far from dying, however, they are in desperate need of a new organisational structure that more explicitly realises their implicit values.

We propose that a healthy, functioning music community consists of fans, investors, and artists. And that crucially, it must be realised that these roles need not be mutually exclusive, and not be adversarial.

We propose that the current financial and legal structure of independent record labels is not the most accurate reflection of the values of those who operate them, or the values of artists they represent, or the values of their fans.

Third Nature is an attempt to build and encourage a structure that reflects our community’s implicit values of kind, adventurous mutualism explicitly.

For more information about Third Nature and the music it features, head to https://thirdnature.world, and for recent updates and thoughts follow us on Twitter @ThirdNatureCoop.

Systems Creative. Founder of Third Nature Recordings. I share therefore I am.