Dope Stars Inc., alternative, industrial, rebellious music. They’ve been around since 2003 and prefer to do their stuff without a label.
They’ve really picked up on the fact that the digital generation is here, and that they can promote and get themselves distributed online. They’ve also found the tools for allowing fans to support them, with Flattr as just one of them. Find their profile here.

I got in contact with the band and asked them some questions, right about the time when they started writing a song together with their fans via Etherpad, a collaborative writing tool online.
As a result of this collaboration, and their own hard work, they’ve just released their new album.

the cover of UltrawiredYou guys don’t use a label of any sort, how is that working for you?
Victor: It is working very well at the moment. The thing is we’ve always been a chaotic neutral band. We always took care of all our stuff starting from production to a big part of promotion and public relations so in a way the difference to us is not so big. The essential difference is that we will not have the album distributed in regular shops, but actually, considering the big part of our fans are connected to the internet, this is not a real problem.

Also in the past the big part of our fans bought the album online, besides without a label we can also offer better prices if they buy the album directly from us. We will put up everything for free and then we let people decide how to support us. They can donate, flattr, promote us or buy the album or a t-shirt. We also have a version of the physical album that is essentially like the original one but the CD inside is empty. So when you get the album you just download the files from our site and then you burn it.

Of course we know that without a label we will reach fewer people, but we prefer to reach these fans that we can also get in touch with by the internet and build a community instead of having a more wider diffusion in local shops with people we can’t communicate with and that will be forced to pay a much higher price for the CD just to fulfil the need of profits for the whole distribution chain. We cannot tolerate to get 80 cents from a CD that a fan pays 15 euros or even more for.

This is essentially a suicidal corporate system that we can’t stand anymore. We believe that the future is to let people do what they feel and to let them freely express their support in the way they feel suitable. To block people from sharing is essentially blind because it is demonstrated by numbers that there will always be a certain number of people that is willing to support a band in many different ways. Besides with this kind of direct support we need like 1/10 of people to support us in order to get basically the same economical return. At the same time the music will be spread everywhere and accessible to anyone and this is just good for a band. In Russia for example, where everybody is essentially a pirate, we have a lot more people coming to our concerts and there’s a huge fanbase of loyal fans that support us in many ways. In the end the live show is the real dimension of a band and spreading music for free is the best way to get people interested in coming to a concert.

Also we are planning a lot of events with our community of fans. We meet up on Etherpad or chat rooms and we discuss just about anything; we send them exclusive previews; we get feedback from them and they help us with many things and promotion. In a few years pirates are gonna change the whole music business even more than what has happened already. And we are gonna be on their side.

Dope Stars Inc. - Ultrawired

How did you guys find out about Flattr in the first place? And why did you decide on using it?
Victor: The first time I’d seen it was on the Openleaks website. I checked out and I immediately felt it was such a great idea. Signed up and started to get along with the system. Then I hooked up with Bonqer (Linus) and I realized you are not only a group of talented geeks but also great people. I really hope your idea will spread more and more and we will do everything possible to promote it too. Ideas like this will change the world and there’s nothing that corporate business can do to stop the evolution of society 2.0.

You guys have chosen the Creative Commons license Non-commercial – No derivative for your music, can you tell us more about this?
Victor: This was the original plan but then this clashed with the contractual obligation we are forced to fulfill till the end of the year. We left the regular system just a few months ago so it’s just about time. However we have signed a deal with our collecting society to make it legal to download and share the new album. So for now this is a temporary solution but when we will finally get out of it we will change the license of the songs of the new album to the CC ones.

How is writing a song together with your fans going? Will it stop at one song, or become more?
Victor: To write a song together with the fans on Etherpad has been just epic. A lot of fans worked on it and the theme of the song was “Wikileaks”. It has been really exciting. When I decided to do it I had no idea what could happen, if it could work or not. But then it was just magic and in a few days we had a lot of versions of the lyrics. Then we put it to votes and the most voted lines have been included in the final lyrics of the album. That was just a test that will be followed by more events like it.

The good thing of not having a label is also that I can do whatever I want with my songs. I usually take one day to write the basics of a song. So I can also write songs during the weekend and then work on lyrics with fans and release it on Monday. That would be really exciting and will create a lot of involvement with other fans which is what we are looking for. If they want to share and download for free our music then giving us a hand working on songs sounds just appropriate. Besides it’s fun. After all we do it for the lulz.

You’ve been working quite hard on the new album release lately, anything fun and awesome to tell us about that?
Victor: Everything about this album has been a lot of fun. All the experiments we are doing with fans in our community have been great. They are all great people, with a sense of humor and we had a great time together. This is, compared to the other albums, a more positive one. It has got a lot of positive energy and this is exactly the kind of mood that reflects our internet community. We really can’t wait to release it because we already know it will be a lot of fun.

3 days on TPB front page ftw!Got a release date yet? (Since this question was asked a while ago the album has actually been released and all the info can be found here on their homepage, but Victor gave such a good answer that you’ll want to read it)
Victor: That’s another cool side of a pirate release like this. We do not need a release date. The album will be just online at the moment when we will get all the parts ready. Then we will send it to press and once we get CDs we send to our fans who pre-ordered.

It is just like doing your thing and then sharing it with your friends once ready. No deadlines, no stress and nobody that tells you how it should be, when it should be or whatever it should be. Now the music is ready and we’re just missing some pieces of artwork.

Once it is ready we will put it on YouTube, SoundCloud, free download with a zip and spread it on any other place on the internet where it is possible to do it. If you sign up to our mailing list you will get everything once the album is online. We will personally upload it, so it is seriously some REAL thing going on here. We will be in chat on Etherpad while doing it. Maybe we will just get a couple of days announcement to meet up at a certain moment and enjoy all together the release moment. This will be some epic Do It Yourself stuff.

You can find Dope Stars Inc. on:
Their homepage

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