We sat down with Alex AKA DFRNT, owner and curator of CUT RECORDS, a web based label which is pioneering the field of free music distribution, or as they put it: “Cut is a netlabel providing free music with an emphasis on quality[…] Most netlabels have a stigma attached to them leading people to assume that because the music is free, it’s low quality. Cut has set out to debunk that myth.” We found his take on the industry quite cutting edge, with his “cut the bullshit and get to it” vibe, and his real passion for music, good music.
First off, I have to thank you for the great music output you are delivering to the “market”. But, since all your releases are free, can I even use that word in your case? Could you tell us a little about this fantastic rarity in a music label?
DFRNT: Thanks, my pleasure! Basically, Cut is for free releases because after trying free releases with Echodub (my other label) they went pretty well, so it made sense to start something which was strictly for free releases. It means I can keep paid releases on Echodub separate to free releases on Cut. It was also a bit of an experiment and an exciting new project for me to work on.
What moved you to start Cut Records? And why did you choose to provide music for free?
DFRNT: I had a logo design that I’d done, and it felt right to do something with it. I felt there was room for a net-label and so I thought I’d just give it a go. Being a designer and web developer as a profession meant I could set it up fairly quickly and I had plenty people interested in sending me music already so I took it from there.
It seems like running a label, and the work it might involve, would probably be with the aim to get some kind of reward. If it’s not financially focused like in your case, how do you see artists or the label itself benefiting from this gift based output?
DFRNT: The reward is seeing people consume the music, and also seeing artists benefit. There’s no monetary gain from this really. The thing is – it’s a “label” but ultimately there’s no cost of running the label day-to-day. I don’t need a building for overheads, I already pay for hosting for many other projects, and the only costs are associated with the releases themselves.
It must be an interesting time to try making a profit from music sales.
DFRNT: It is – but also why I’m not making a profit!
You have an excellent array of artists under your label’s belt. How did that come about? Did they approach you or was it the other way around
DFRNT: I approached most of them after seeing that they were already open to giving away free music. When I offered them a chance to package it up for a keen audience, it made sense. Now I have people approaching me – but I prefer to do my own hunting.
You seem to be setting an example with what you are doing with Cut. How do you feel the music industry is changing? Any visions for the future
DFRNT: I don’t know if I’ll be able to change things, and yes – things are fluctuating all the time. I’ve no idea what the future will bring to be honest. I do know that whatever it is – I’ll look at adapting to cope. I’m not scared or worried. I’m just excited to find new ways to discover, deliver and promote the music I love.
How would you describe the music that Cut Rec. shares with the public? Any particular sound you are after?
DFRNT: I have my own preference for deep emotive music, and so that comes through – I also like things to be a little different to the norm, and I always have to feel like I’m on to something new and exciting – but really at the end of the day it’s just a feeling that I get when I hear the tracks – sometimes I just *know* that I’d like to release them. That sort of thing is genre independent.
Cut has a very particular design that characterizes all releases, who is in charge of that?
DFRNT: I am. I’m a designer by-day so I like to cover every aspect of the label.
Do contributors to the label volunteer their work, as we assume you do?
DFRNT: Yes. I don’t have the funds to pay an artist for their tracks – but if there is any return from donations, then I split it with them.
Does Cut sustain the costs of the label from donations? Is there any way in which people can contribute, donate or help this work to continue?
DFRNT: I’m looking at putting a donate button on the website, but really people can donate for a release if they wish. This mostly covers the costs of doing the release. I have to pay for mastering (for some releases) and then I have to pay for Bandcamp credits. The biggest cost is sending an email out to 10,000 people – it’s gotten very expensive to do, and so the donations have to stay strong, to allow me to afford to send that email.
Could you tell us a little about yourself? You have your own solo project DFRNT. Could you describe your unique approach to music?
DFRNT: I produce as DFRNT, yes – you can find out more about that and my music at dfrnt.co.uk – it’s all in interviews and my productions there
Also, we heard you have another record label. Is that one free release as well?
DFRNT: Echodub – no, we did do free releases for a little while, but it’s more of a traditional paid-release label now. We’re about to release my new DFRNT EP and album, Fading, in the next week or two – the first physical releases for Echodub. (echodub.co.uk)
Any label plans in the near future that listeners should be aware of?
DFRNT: Other than my album – nothing has been planned yet. I have a few things ready to release, but I’ve got lots of personal changes happening in the next few months, so I need to handle that first then deal with music secondary.
Any last words?
DFRNT: I think I’ve said everyting I wanted to in this and in other interviews – I also publish a blog at with music I like, and I’m about to reach episode 50 on my fortnightly podcast – insight.dfrnt.co.uk – and if people want to send me music – check here first: howtosendmemusic.com.
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