I have a story about being on a small net label. it’s not quite a happy one
Last year i got in touch with a dude starting a vaporwave cassette netlabel. I thought to myself “why not” because like you, I had nothing to lose… or so i thought. Then I made a short 5 track release set to be put on cassette and everything looked like it was in order. He sent me pics of the cassettes he made, he had the technology to do it so i trusted him completely with that side of the project. So fast forward the next month we got a few artists on the label and we are all making sales, and just happy to see our music get out there being heard by others. It’s a great feeling! Even though i was just an artist he was telling me everything was going great and agreed to pay me 50%. So I get paid for the first few sales, and more cassettes are selling at a decent pace. I then ask for payment and he says he will send the funds. Next week i see no funds in my paypal, then I start to kind of get mad but i don’t lose my cool, because maybe he’s just actually busy since there’s like over 10 artists on the label now (this is like around 4 or 5 months in). Not sure of what to think i email him again and get no responses at all. Now i am really starting to lose my cool
This is when things went to shite. One month later I email him again and still nothing, so then i email other people on the label to see whats happening, if they got paid or are in contact with the label manager. Everyone i contacted replies telling me they haven’t spoken a word to manager for a while, basically in the same boat as me. Comepletely in the dark, unpaid, hungry and scared. Eventually I end up digging a little deeper, I go CSI up in this piece. Look at his accound on reddit, go through his posts, find out emails he’s given out, see all the accounts associated with emails. Find out his main email address. Fire off a well thought out, well written email informing him of his incompetencies. I tell him to act like a professional and don’t mess this up. This is serious business, I know it’s just vaporwave,it’s so underground it’s doesn’t even matter in the real world, but the moment money was involved, shit got real. So within the week I received an email from him, relieved, Unfortunately i just stressed out even more from what he told me. He admitted that he failed and messed up but his intentions were good. Everything just got much for him so he folded under the pressure. Thus leading him to turn away from the very thing he started. Also he told me he was going to pay us out and send out the rest of the cassettes he never sent out (which was like 95% of the orders the label got) After he makes amends and gets back on track he said he wasn’t certain about the future of the label.
Somewhat satisfied, i thought that it’s probably the smartest thing to do in this situation. Fix everything first then see where that takes us because fucking over artists and customers is the last thing you wanna do. Not even long after, he completely disappeared!! Deleted all the pages he made for the label, even the tumblr, bandcamp and reddit account. No replies to email. Purposely avoiding me and probably everyone else. He took the money and ran. Backdoor bandits strike again. Now this is probably one of the few big scandels in the vaporwave community. The label i mentioned is called Virtual Disk Systems. I severely regret being involved in aiding this scum. He brought shame to my art project and now my name will forever be tainted with lies and deceit. My fans who ordered cassettes never got what they paid for and it feels absolutely terrible.
So in the end this was a great learning experience. I learned that do some research on the person hiring you. Go through their record of ventures like artist names, and google their email address to see what they have been doing on this slippery hyperspace we call the internet. engage in contact with the label regularly, ask for updates and discuss how your product is being marketed and give pointers if need be. Make sure to give the fans what they want above all else. it’s about the music. Ensure a level of trust at all times.
As for me, i completely went 100% solo. bought a tape deck and put out a new vaporwave album on cassette. Self released it and sold out! it’s pretty amazing what you can do if you put your mind to it. So I think my name is mostly clear of a bad image. people got their cassettes. I am happy, everyone make smile to their face.
What happened to me can most definitely happen to you. Do your research and you’ll be fine. Be careful out there. Streets is mean!