The Australian National University has launched a not-for-profit record label aimed at promoting established and emerging artists unable to snag a deal with traditional music companies.
The joint ANU Press and School of Music venture will showcase academic artists and commission work from musicians and songwriters of all genres in a bid to level out the playing field for those the university considers the nation's best.
ANU lecturer, composer and recording artist Kim Cunio said the ANU label would offer artists longevity, legitimacy and support at minimal or no cost - an opportunity rarely offered in the risk-averse, low-profit modern music industry.
"As far as we know, we really will be the first in the world with this model of complete subsidisation of the artworks, which is pretty astounding," Cunio said.
"I don't think that's really been seen since the days of the Medicis in the Renaissance - the idea that there was an organisation of very rich patrons who just paid for everything to happen and made sure it was disseminated.
"That's the model we're trying to move into."
The label will hire a group of copy editors to help artists with liner notes, musicians will have the opportunity to have their music peer reviewed, and students and alumni will be able to work with both the university's label and recently-opened recording studio.
Work will be released digitally - though Cunio said artists would have the option to "print on demand" - and given away, with the option for listeners to make a donation to artists.
The School of Music will bear costs associated with the label, which Cunio said would work towards up to 12 releases a year.
"If someone's doing good stuff, we're interested," he said.
"We're looking purely in the here and now, not later.
"It really is a message in a bottle about Australian music that we're going to provide."
The label will publish music from 2019.
The ANU School of Music has been undergoing a process of renewal after being dogged by controversy detailed in an extensive and damning independent review released in 2016.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman last year agreed to investigate alleged nepotism and misuse of public funds inside the school after former head Peter Tregear made a complaint under public interest disclosure laws.
Professor Tregear, who left the university in 2015, continues to await an outcome from an Administrative Appeals Tribunal hearing related to previously refused Comcare compensation.
Current head Kenneth Lampl has worked to better embed the School of Music within the Canberra community after taking the reins in February last year.
Since then, the Juilliard School import has introduced partnerships with various community organisations, launched the $1 million recording studio and snagged ARIA-award winning producer Mark Opitz as a visiting fellow.
Cunio said there was plenty of good news within the School of Music.
"I think it's an exciting place to be because we can finally say the phoenix is coming out of the ashes," Cunio said.
" ... we have over 80 first-years in the School of Music, which is as many as the School of Music had in its glory days 30 years ago.
"In the space of a year, we've turned around the numbers, and they're fantastic students ... [and] first-year composition has 48 students, which is as far as I know the largest first-year composition cohort in Australia."
A relationship banned under traditional law.
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