Over the past couple of years, well-liked local hip-hop duo the Cool Kids have gotten a lot of attention and experienced a lot of frustration—the latter largely because they haven’t been able to put out a full-length record. Their only official release to date (that is, not a mix tape or Internet giveaway) is the 2008 EP The Bake Sale, released on local label Chocolate Industries. The relationship between the Kids and Chocolate Industries went south shortly after the EP came out, and the resulting conflict has kept the group’s album, When Fish Ride Bicycles, from reaching the public.
Finally someone has broken the stalemate, and it probably won’t surprise you much to learn that it’s Mountain Dew. The brand’s been running a free digital-music label, Green Label Sound, since 2008, and the Cool Kids were one of the earliest acts it worked with.
I wrote about that relationship in a column two years ago, and speculated that labels funded by the promotions budgets of nonmusic brands could be a game changer. Because Green Label Sound is funded by soft-drink sales, not record sales, it doesn’t need to worry about making money from music. Until now Green Label Sound hasn’t even bothered to charge money for the music it offers, which has been mostly singles or exclusive remixes from buzzy acts like MNDR and Chromeo.
If the idea of a new competitor giving away the store made some people at traditional labels break out into cold sweats, this new deal should send shivers down their spines.