tapes.audio will be a new Irish non-profit tape label. We aim to collect some of the best that Irish music has to offer in the form of limited physical releases. Artists take the majority share of any proceeds and anything left is reinvested into the project.

When is this going live?

Some time in 2021 when we have a few releases lined up, the web store built, press releases and such written, and the business model ironed out. April at the earliest.

What releases go on tapes.audio?

At present, we're focusing on releases that fit all of these categories:

However, there's room for interpretation. Label comps, double-EP sets, bundles of an EP + earlier singles etc; all are good. And if you say your 11-minute release is an album, we won't fight it. Our focus right now is offering a consistent deal to the artists and potential subscribers, hence the focus on length. If we end up ruling out the subscription option, we'll gladly start talking about EPs and singles. If there's something you really want to own on tape that never got a drop or you have a project that fits the bill, contact me by email on colm@tapes.audio.

Why physical releases?

Streaming income doesn't deliver for artists. Our model works like this: we sell a tape for €10, pay for production, payment processing etc. then pass €5 on to the artist. On Spotify, it'd take 1390 streams to earn that €5. And while we love the likes of Bandcamp, physical releases clearly attach value to music. You're not just paying to stream the same songs in another app - the tapes are yours forever.

Why tapes?

They're cheaper to make than CDs and easier to make in smaller printing runs. There's endless room for creativity in layout, design and packaging. With a digital source and any half-decent recorder, they can sound incredible. Plus we'll give you a Bandcamp code so you can get CD-quality downloads.

This is a non-profit venture?

Yes. We will retain a small fee for each tape sold which will go to covering the costs of keeping the website online, handling contingencies like customs fees and as a starting point for advertising, running events, etc. It's not endlessly scalable, but that's the point. This won't be a full-time job for anyone involved, but tapes are a wonderfully DIY affair. Colm wrote what's on this website, but there will be other people helping out as it builds up.

If releasing tapes is so easy, why does anyone need tapes.audio?

Go for it! What we're trying to do with the platform is demonstrate how easy it is for artists to make and ship beautiful physical releases and reduce the risk for getting started. If it comes to the point where everyone's doing it for themselves, we'll change what we're doing here to suit; running a storefront or just providing information on getting started.

How are you actually going to reach the public and sell these things?

We're ironing out the details as we get some more data. We've got two possible approaches right now:

Both are appealing for different reasons. If the audience is there, the first means we can guarantee a certain level of income for the artists we feature, but our tape output will hopefully be diverse and cross-genre, which is good for the platform but makes a subscription a harder sell. The second makes it easier for us to offer tapes at a wide range of prices and lengths, charging differently for an EP versus an album, while remaining risk-free for the artists who come to us.
Honestly, we'll probably not go with subscriptions at least when we start out. If we get to the point where we have 100 people who'll take risks on buying tapes every month, we'll reconsider.

Why should I trust you?

I've made four tape releases for Hausu. Each of these was an evolution over the last in terms of how we made them, the quality of packaging and presentation, and the audio quality itself. In 2020, we made our first cross-label tape release God Alone². It was our first time developing a tape release from scratch for a band outside the fold. It turned out great, and I decided to focus more on these kind of projects.