This Saturday, outsider art site Weird Canada launches Wyrd Distro, its not-for-profit indie music distribution service for the entire country. This is monumental. Twenty-one celebration parties will happen across Canada simultaneously, featuring regional bands and a videochat with Weird Canada's founder Aaron Levin and executive director Marie LeBlanc Flanagan. The Wyrd Distro is a game-changer.
From Victoria to Iqaluit to Charlottetown, the Distro will provide a central marketplace for the sale and distribution of physical indie releases that jibe with Weird Canada's aesthetic principles and mandate. Since 2009, Weird Canada has been promoting music and art from every corner of the country. "It's been an undertaking that's a little like an iceberg. The more I do, the more I see there is to do," says LeBlanc Flanagan, already cataloguing tapes and vinyl for the warehouse in Kitchener. "The seed of the idea for the Wyrd Distro was in the idea of Weird Canada itself," she says. "It was one of Aaron's dream projects and it's been informing its own evolution. This is what our community wants."
Since Weird Canada received a substantial grant from FACTOR last summer, over 340 volunteers have brought the Distro to life, from programmers to event planners to content translators. Here's how it works: artists submit original physical releases (in French or English) with a desired sale price to regional Distro reps. The Distro will then stock, ship and track sales to buyers at no-profit to Weird Canada. Any mark-up is cost recovery, and the Wyrd Distro is unlike any other service.
"The Distro is distinguished from other efforts for a few reasons," says LeBlanc Flanagan. "An important part of this is that we don't intend to replace record stores." Instead, the Distro will provide a platform for record stores to buy large stock of indie releases that might otherwise be unattainable. This will build a relationship between record stores and indie artists that is now limited by geography or cost.
"Also, we offer transparency. Sellers will be able to see what they sold, where and when, and request payment at any time. We have big visions of being a digital distributor, as well, and we'd like to build more partnerships with local campus radio stations. I think this has the potential to be something really special for both artists and collectors," says LeBlanc Flanagan. "It's totally relied on volunteers, and that is Weird Canada. We have these long tentacles that stretch into communities---and not in an invasive way, but we are here."
Local artists are invited to bring works to the launch at Lost & Found for reviewed submission. "The music still has to resonate with us and be challenging to be in the Distro," she says. Weird Canada is excited about Halifax's contributions: Old & Weird, Moon, Monomyth, Scribbler and Torso have been featured on the site.
"The Distro is a one-stop place that will allow DIY bands and labels a more streamlined way of connecting their releases with people who want to support them," says Quaker Parents' Mark Grundy. "You should believe in Weird Canada because Weird Canada believes in you."
Halifax organizer Evan Matthews (Best Fiends) believes the unique structure of Weird Canada is positioned to become a positive force in the Canadian music industry: "It's truly working for good."
Wyrd Distro Halifax Gathering w/Quaker Parents, Craig Currie
Saturday, February 15 at 2pm, Free
Lost and Found Store, 2383 Agricola Street