As fall turns to winter Ropeadope wraps up its 20th year. If you had to p[ick the 20 toughest years in the history of the music business, it would probably be exactly these years. From the Napster years to iTunes setting the price of songs, from social media upending the game to streaming services applying vice grips to the industry, these have been tumultuous times. The process of keeping an independent record label alive, let alone thriving, is a lesson in perseverance and hope.
Ropeadope could have been pronounced dead on the scene in quite a few of those years, most notably 2005 as New Orleans flooded two days before the release of King Britt Presents Sister Gertrude Morgan, a key album and a historically important work of art. That time marks my start with the label; taking on a brand that held my utmost respect and attention and making tough choices for the future. After scaling the label back to (literally) a home office, I began the process of resurrection by reinterpreting the label as an independent artist support agency. Artists would have full creative control, and we would help them in their process of building their business. Open sharing of data and cross connection with the other artists was soon part of the plan; the concept caught fire right away with artists. One band seized the opportunity and ran with it - Snarky Puppy was already living fully in the new paradigm and together we furthered the concept to include their own label within the label - GroundUp. The results were extraordinary, though one should be cautious looking back as if it was easy - both the band and label paid dues in the process.
In the 10 years since our reinvention, Ropeadope has become a haven for independents. Our roster includes over 530 albums released, most within the last four years. This is a reflection of the artistic community and the exploration and growth that is occurring worldwide, all seemingly under the radar of the larger music business. We’ve stopped waiting for the KO that our name suggests and settled into building community that nourishes both artist and listener, and we persevere through direct communication and education in the hope that all will fully understand the nourishing aspect of quality music with artistic exploration at its core.
All of this history will be written in detail in the coming years, along with the music and visual imagery that covers the full arc of Ropeadope. While the catalog has historically important records from our earliest days, the living legacy of the brand is most vibrant in recent years, a testament to our commitment to stay on the leading edge of the new music business. And so we present 20 For 20: 20 songs that emphasize the living, breathing, current iteration of Ropeadope and the family of artists that we are so fortunate to represent.