Weird Canada has been inexhaustible in their quest to give emerging Canadian artists a voice and foster a supportive community for all the music that the CBC wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot flagpole. There’s a reason they’ve won a place in our hearts and it’s that they’re just really good at what they do: curating art. So, it’s no surprise that, when Weird found itself with a bit of excess of cash following a nice grant funding grab, they decided to take their curatorial skills to the next level and help get more weird music out there in a bigger and much more physical way. They opened the Wyrd Distro, an online (for now) record distribution initiative.
“The Wyrd Distro emerged in response to a long-standing problem: Canadian music fans have no reliable, consistent, secure way to purchase music from emerging and/or experimental Canadian musicians,” says Marie LeBlanc Flannagan, executive director of Weird Canada.
Though it may seem a bit out of left field that a blog is getting into the music distribution business – even for an organization as unpredictable as Weird Canada – LeBlanc Flannagan believes it’s actually not that big of a jump when you really think about it.
“As one of the few blogs focusing on exclusively physical, emerging and experimental Canadian content, we were always on the front lines of this problem,” she says. “People would email us frequently, trying to find a way to purchase the music they read about on the site, or asking for our help in locating albums they had purchased but not received.”
The concept is incredibly simple on paper: help bands sell their music. Thankfully, it’s also shaping up to be pretty straightforward in practice, too.
“To sell music through the Wyrd Distro, we made it as simple and transparent as possible: when an artist or label reaches out to us, we apply our curation priorities to the artist/album and decide if it’s a good fit. If it’s a good fit, the artist sends us the albums and dictates the amount they would like to sell them for,” she explains.
“We have volunteers that are excited to build relationships with record stores across Canada. So, we’ll be creating this massive network of volunteer-driven distribution and DIY-experimental music floating along the tracks.”
As for what kind of stuff they’re looking for, well there are no real hard and fast rules. Because Weird Canada is known for their discerning taste, they’ve set no guidelines for who can send them music. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s going to get accepted, that just means you can give it a shot. When it comes down to it, they need records that fit the aesthetic, or they’re simply going to sit on the shelf for a few years until someone makes them into fashionable ashtrays. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to be jerks about it.
“We’re likely to redirect people who don’t meet our general community aesthetic(s) to more appropriate (and excellent) services, like CD Baby. We aren’t doing anyone a favour by collecting music that won’t sell to our community.”
To kick off this wonderfully weird initiative, Weird Canada is hosting launch parties in every province and territory throughout Canada on February 15, tying them all together via Google Hangouts. Look forward to a bunch of great live music, some Q&A, the chance to digitally hang out with LeBlanc Flannagan and co-conspirator Aaron Levin, and a sweet Wyrd Distro mixtape.
“Also, we’ll have a distro dropbox where people who have already met our curation guidelines (have been written about on Weird Canada) can drop off up to five copies of their latest album to sell in the store,” says LeBlanc Flannagan.
So hey, you in the up-and-coming avant-neo-bossa-nova-core band! You’d better get a head start on pressing those flexi disc demos!
Wyrd Distro will launch on February 15 across Canada at the following locations in Alberta: Listen Records (Edmonton) and Sloth Records (Calgary).
By Nick Laugher