New music label battles norms

Jan. 6, 2004 at 9:15 PM

NEW YORK, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The OmniTone label has a new recording offshoot designed to promote and assist the makers of experimental music that often defies category.

The ToneScience label, as founder Frank Tafuri explains, is a home for artists frustrated and confounded by a music business machine that fails to service them.

"It's a new concept that's really an old concept: You want one of our albums, you buy it," said Tafuri. "That goes for retailers, distributors, and reviewers, too, not just consumers. It's all about keeping things real and focused on the music, and that means treating the music, the musicians, and the fans -- artistically and financially -- with respect."

Industry-standard practices that the consumer is unaware of have been eroding or outright destroying hardworking independent record companies, Tafuri said. He said they include retailers having 100 percent returns privileges, having to send out hundreds of "promotional" free CDs to get a handful of reviews, and having to put up with distributors who can arbitrarily stop paying or who take six or more months to pay.

"It's an insidiously vicious cycle, so somebody's got to say, 'Enough is enough,' so everybody can focus on what it's all about -- the music," said Tafuri.

ToneScience's debut release is "New Math," a series of duo improvisations by pianist-composer Mick Rossi and trumpeter-composer Russ Johnson. Rossi now tours with Philip Glass. Johnson is a performer in New York's "downtown" music scene.

ToneScience's second release, "Eight Shorts in Search of David Lynch," by guitarist-composer-sound designer Johnnie Valentino, will be available in February.

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