The Tabula Rasa Record Company is not a record label
Tabula Rasa is Latin for "blank slate." This name was chosen for two reasons. The first being that every work of art begins as a blank canvas. Tabula Rasa serves as a blank canvas onto which artists can express their vision fully. The second reason for the name is that in the digital age, we believe that it is necessary to reimagine the fundamental nature of a record label, and how best to serve creatives.
We define a /record/ as "a thing constituting a piece of evidence about the past, an account of an act or occurrence kept in writing or some other permanent form."
This includes music, but is not limited to it. When we say that Tabula Rasa is a record company, we mean that we are in the business of the permanent form – created by thoughtful artisans, designed to inspire wonder, provoke questions, deliver comfort, joy, utility or peace, and in general elevate the human experience.
Who We Are
Founded in San Francisco
Founded in the spring of 2020 by Jozef White, in San Francisco's historic North Beach neighborhood, The Tabula Rasa Record Company is now run by Jozef White, RamonPang and Asterisk Youth, with a great deal of help from other members, and the global Tabula Rasa community.
The Case for Tabula Rasa
Most record deals and many creative licensing deals are completely one-sided, leaving the artist who creates the intellectual property without any say in how their work is used and monetized.
Creators are often forced to give up a large portion of their rights for the promise of making back some portion of the income generated from their work.
Current State of the World
Creatives face these main pressures in the market
Touring (Where relevant)
Name & Likeness (“Brand”)
How Big is the Problem?
90% of recording contracts are standard royalty deals filled with hidden fees, allowing companies to make an inordinate return from their relatively small investment in the artists, who contractually will see none of these returns.
This is Only Getting Worse
The so-called "gig economy" has allowed for the further exploitation of the creative class by undercutting and in many cases completely removing the ability for creatives to realize fair and decent financial returns for their work, and irrespective of their success.
In 2018 there were approximately 50 million subscribers to music streaming services. In September of 2020 there were 400 million – an 8-fold increase. By the end of 2020 there will be 460 million subscribers
J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs project there will be 2 billion streaming service subscribers by the end of the decade.
Artists Will Continue to See Little from this Growth
Universal Music sold Tencent at a 33-billion-dollar valuation.
Universal owns 3.5% of Spotify as a result of a deal where Spotify was given license to the masters of Universal’s artists.
Artists saw little to no return from this deal despite having created close to all of its value.
Warner Music Group and Sony Music Group also own significant stakes in Spotify and Tencent Music.
Why This Matters
Contracts in so many industries, but particularly in art, have created an industry of value extraction between the creators and the consumers of art. This subjects the art to heavier market pressure than necessary and delivers to the consumer a degraded product.
How We're Creating Change
We've created an entirely novel licensing agreement structure between labels and artists.
Tabula Rasa is the licensee of all works created by artists who choose to become members.
Artists have complete control over which of their works get licensed to the label and have a say over how their work is distributed and monetized by the label. Tabula Rasa then takes a small fee off of the success of the monetization effort.
Contracts and agreements are clear, simple and artist friendly.
The Tabula Rasa Lab is developing tools and systems to empower creators to fully leverage the value of their skills.
Tabula Rasa will continue to evolve as a known source of high quality art and leverage the value of our portfolios for all of its members, creating reliable and uncomplicated revenue streams for the artists, while allowing for growth.
We also will continue to develop tools, technology and agreement structures for monetizing projects for the benefit of its members as well as the industries with whom Tabula Rasa collaborates on projects.
Why Tabula Rasa Specifically?
As previously stated, Tabula Rasa means "Blank Slate," in Latin.
The entire purpose of this project is to look at the current state of the world and allow ourselves to start over, taking only that which serves us and our mission.
We have already assembled an excellent, passionate team, and advisors with expertise in all relevant areas. We are on our way.
Why We Care
The idea for this project came about from watching friends and collaborators try to become successful creatives in a market that is so heavily tilted against them. Many artists are stuck in a cycle of seeing their work continue to create value that they do not benefit from financially. As a vocation, choosing art winds up limiting their options, as compared to those who become successful in other fields. It doesn't have to be this way.
Join us, however you can, as we enable artists and creatives to demand that they retain control over all of their original works and demand fair and equal treatment in the marketplace.
Update understanding of intellectual property within the arts and more generally.
Repair the economy of creative production such that it serves those who are most directly contributing to it.