Vaporcake and the new "digital ephemera"
January 2, 2015 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Vaporcake and the new "digital ephemera"
Fellow MeFite mintcake! and I are trying out an experiment in digital music dissemination. To understand what we're going for, please read this manifesto-of-sorts on Medium: Extremely Limited: A case for the new digital ephemera.

We think there's something to the idea of artificial scarcity for digital releases and netlabels, which might bring back the feeling of something special and rare gifted between one person and another, and which might bear creative fruit by allowing experimental artists to focus more on the recording as a transient form of ongoing artistic practice.

To that effect, we've come up with a label, Vaporcake, which in its current incarnation will be focused on "extremely limited" releases via bandcamp. For our first release, we put up a split EP which was limited to 10 downloads. After those downloads are met, we remove the bandcamp tracks and delete the files from our hard drives, so they're essentially gone. This first release met its quota and became out of print in a manner of minutes after the announcement. (What happens to those 10 .zip files is out of our control; maybe they'll be shared, more likely they won't. It doesn't concern us much.)

It's meant to be a curious talking point among other things, and we welcome debate and disagreement. Digital music distribution is still a very uncertain landscape, and we'd like to suggest alternative forms and incentives and see where they take us.

We're accepting submissions for future releases and would love to feature experimental, open-minded MeFite musicians. It's an admittedly strange concept; let's have fun! Get at us: email:, twitter: @vaporcaker.
Role: Co-founder
posted by naju (12 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

ah very cool! I am curious already for what the releases will sound like (if I manage to get my hands on one).
posted by jonbro at 1:15 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think I really like this idea. I am still trying to get my hand around it. I am an old (long time) Deadhead who is used to the concept of the band encouraging widespread distribution of concert tapes (as long as there is no profit motive in the distro). As Jerry put it, "Once we play it, it is yours to keep. It is our gift to you."

What I think was special about the old days of trading tapes and then CDs was just what you point out. It was something special a friend gave to you or traded with you. It was a shared experience, not just another download to add to your terabyte hard drive.

If you create a scarcity, you are also creating a currency. You will hopefully get fans to trade one download for a copy or another one. There is potential to create a community among fans.

Eventually, the band could play a show at which they play only the music that was released in this limited way. That will create demand for that concert and ultimately maybe a payday in some way for the band.
posted by 724A at 8:41 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm bummed that I missed the first release. I wonder if I can get my hands on it somehow...
posted by sleeping bear at 8:54 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm bummed that I missed the first release.

Hah, I think maybe subconsciously I was pleased that we announced the label and the first release simultaneously. I am certainly happily that the response was so positive and quick but I'm also maybe a little happy that it will be nigh impossible to collect the entire set, whatever it may end up as. It was certainly a very different experience crafting a track with which I was really pleased (and I liked naju's half even more than I liked my own, for what it's worth - wonderful stuff) knowing full well that it would be gone quickly. Though it's not an expectation for other artists' future releases, wiping the final mix and the project files from my DAW was downright creepy. I recommend trying it at least once.

While I'm super happy to jabber about fairly electronic/'experimental' (ugh, I know) stuff I would also love to see all kinds of music come out this way; the idea of an EP of intimate pop songs, for example, that's just a sweet little note between a musician and ten or twenty or thirty other people delights me. We'll see what happens.
posted by mintcake! at 7:59 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

i'm not sure i could do that final part @mintcake ...i have a hard time erasing anything
posted by cinchel at 8:11 AM on January 5, 2015

I had some kind of weird separation anxiety the night I deleted it... like I killed a tiny part of myself. Whoops. Maybe it's a bit drastic.
posted by naju at 10:12 AM on January 5, 2015

I had some kind of weird separation anxiety the night I deleted it

I'm getting twitchy just thinking about it. This is a really interesting idea.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:51 AM on January 8, 2015

We have exciting plans for the next release. I'll be sure to give MeFites a heads up on it.
posted by naju at 5:23 PM on January 25, 2015

I really love this idea!

This is kind of why I buy weird mixtapes on cassette from bandcamp, you have a relatively limited-issue physical item to go with the music you bought.

i guess what i'm saying is please sell some cassettes
posted by AaronRaphael at 1:53 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Heads up! The next release is happening on Friday.

It's a full-length album from Shaun Blezard. Limited to 30 downloads, then it's gone, no reissues, etc.

It's really really good! And there's more planned. We're taking this thing to some places.
posted by naju at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2015

(Oh, and there was a Chicago Reader article about the label)
posted by naju at 10:34 AM on January 28, 2015

Release is up now.
posted by naju at 10:22 AM on January 30, 2015

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