One of the things I’m going to be working on over the next 12 months is developing a research project into the network of independent music collectives in Brazil, known as Fora do Eixo (Off-Axis).
If it’s new to you, they’re an affiliation of ‘cultural producers’ (promoters, managers, labels etc.) who use the internet to connect and organise, work together and try to make a sustainable independent music and performing arts sector.
Joining live music venues, artists and festivals as well as labels and studios around the country, the collectives have developed a separate economy from that of the mainstream music industry… to the point where they now actually have their own currency. Really.
They’ve just released their end of year figures on their blog (it’s in Portuguese, but I ran it through Google Translate for you).
In a nutshell, Fora do Eixo have generated £35m of investment in independent music and the arts in Brazil through the activities of networked collectives. Their work incorporated 170 festivals, 13,500 artists, 5,000 concerts, 150 tours, as well as education, free software initiatives, environmental work, book and magazine publishing and much more besides.
Astonishing stuff. I’ve conducted some interviews already (video and transcripts on my Brazil Project blog) and am in the process of writing an article about them – but I’m very keen to go back and research this properly. It’s all based on the idea of Solidarity Economy – and starts from the basis that a career in music is about working for a living, and not about winning a lottery.
I’ve already been asked by a number of groups in different regions (including Northern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central America) to help them understand the workings and the processes of Fora do Eixo, and work with them to establish something similar there. A lot has to do with the geography, politics and history of Brazil, of course – but a lot of it is transferrable too.
Independent, sustainable and successful. That’s what you want from a national music industry, isn’t it?