Local Current Blog

Shifting Paradigm Records: New label aims to foster the Minnesota jazz scene

With the music industry in a state of upheaval across the globe, Shifting Paradigm Records is aiming to own up to their name and foster a closer jazz community in the Twin Cities by changing the artist/consumer relationship.

“From what we understand, a lot of jazz labels out there offer little more than some promotion and distribution to artists,” said Zacc Harris, guitarist for the Zacc Harris Group and founder of the label. By banding together, however, artists fare much better. “Obviously, a group of people is more noticeable than an individual, so by working together under one umbrella, we give ourselves a better chance of exposure.”

The artists on the label’s roster include the Zacc Harris Group, the Bryan Nichols Quintet, Atlantis Quartet, Fat Kid Wednesdays, and the Graydon Peterson Quartet, all of whom will be performing at the label’s website launch event tomorrow.

Part of the motivation for the creation of a label for area jazz artists to call home was the difficulty of being picked up by larger national labels and for artists to make money on their work. The label has planned accordingly, so that “by using ShopLocket, which takes a smaller percentage than the digital distributors, we can sell digital downloads for a little less than we do on iTunes and get most of the money,” said Harris. “Since we are a collective, there are very [few] ‘label’ costs at this point, so the artists are getting almost everything.”

While the collective realizes the difficulty in competing with iTunes, pianist Bryan Nichols assured that “what we can do, and hope to do, is give people the best possible product, at better quality than other online outlets and with premium content like artwork and charts. People can also buy from the site knowing that they’re giving that little extra bit of support to all of us and our projects, which I think is something many people are looking to do.”

An added benefit of the label is the increased discoverability of artists associated with it, due in part to the addition of the online marketplace. “Hopefully while someone is checking out Bryan Nichols’s music, they might discover Fat Kid Wednesdays or Graydon Peterson, and buy their music too,” said Harris, who noted that all albums on the label will be sold for $6 during the first month, while still bringing in the same amount of revenue for artists that a $9 or $10 iTunes purchase would.

“For the most part, no one is presenting Minnesota—or even Midwest—artists, and that’s what we’re looking to remedy,” said Nichols. “We’re building a local and regional label that gives people an entrance into our music and the Minnesota jazz scene.”

The Shifting Paradigm Records Launch Party will be on February 15 at Studio Z in St. Paul. 7 p.m., $10 (or free for kids under 12), all ages.

Paul Schmitt is a literature major at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He’s inspired by bass lines, metafiction, and lengthy mealtime conversation.