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Canadian label ARCTIC develops the Make-It-Yourself CD insert, and saves the planet in the process.

NMS reader Kirsten writes:
ArcticI thought you and your readers might be interested in learning about some of the strategies we’re using to promote our new release. As independent musicians, we have realized that while we don’t have the budget and distribution power of major labels, what we do have is creativity and the flexibility to implement our ideas.

We’ve had signed artists tell us that they would never be able to get their label to do the things that we do, just because of the logistics involved.

We know that CDs are on their way out. It’s pretty obvious [Actually, I disagree with this, but that’s a longer conversation for another time]. We also know that a lot of people are going to copy our CDs instead of buying them, or pirate the tracks and burn them to disc. These are the realities of modern music, and it’s useless to pretend it’s not happening.

So for ARCTIC’s new release, “Today Brought Me Here”, we asked ourselves “does everybody really need CD booklets?” And we decided we could do things a little differently than everybody else – we’re letting our fans create their own CD booklets if they want them.

The CDs are sold in clear jewel cases with the band’s name melted by hand into the front of the case. Whether you’ve bought the CD or burned it, you can design and print your own CD cover.

We’ve developed a Flash-based cover generator to let our fans have fun creating their own custom layouts and designs. We’ve also put our liner notes entirely online, where you can stream all the songs, read the lyrics and credits, and enjoy the artwork that we chose to go with the music.

We think this is an innovative way of handling a problem of modern music – why spend money on printing something that most listeners aren’t likely to look at, when we can offer them a chance to engage with the music and be creative themselves?

Part of our mission is also to increase awareness about environmental issues in the North, and so when we released the new CD, we auctioned off a framed, signed master CD and donated half the proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund. This gave us a chance not only to bring up the topics of wildlife protection and climate change to our listeners, but to spread our music to a wider base of people interested in the environment.

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Can I just say, for the record, that I love the fact that so many of the independent labels and music organisations I come into contact with are socially, politically, ethically, and environmentally conscious?

What do you think? Gimmick? Way forward? A bit of out-of-the-box thinking?

Personally, I think this is the type of thinking, rather than the actual idea itself, that is needed across the board.