A metalabel is a release club where a group of people who share the same interest collaborate and drop work together. It’s a lightweight structure that creates economic, emotional, and creative alignment between collaborators.
A metalabel is like an indie record label, except for any form of cultural expression. It’s a way for groups of people who have the same taste or cause to create and release work that speaks to what they collectively care about.
Think of a project like MSCHF, the art collective that drops an absurd product or idea every two weeks. MSCHF feels mysterious and chaotic-good, and their operating structure is that of a metalabel: a group of people releasing work under a shared umbrella that expresses a similar point of view. For them, that capitalism is manipulative AF and it’s fun to use capitalism’s most ridiculous tools to expose that.
This isn’t the only model.
Metalabels can be a shared umbrella where each of the members releases work under their own name. For example, the group publication Every.to is comprised of a dozen people writing their own individual newsletters, but whose overall work is part of a larger collective project — a metalabel — where financial proceeds are split among them.
Metalabels can operate like curator-producers, identifying people or projects that reflect the metalabel’s taste or point of view, then making agreements to co-release their projects together.
Metalabels can also operate as fully democratic projects similar to the so-called NounsDAO model where metalabel members vote on proposals of what to fund and release together.
The metalabel term is new but the structure has been around for centuries.
We see the Royal Society as the first metalabel. The Royal Society started in the 17th century with a goal to establish evidence-based facts, and went on to inspire the Enlightenment with the journals, books, and research they published. They were a group of people inspired by a belief in what we now call science who created a metalabel to promote a scientific worldview. Many generations of members later, the Royal Society is still active today.
More modern versions include indie record labels, art collectives, indie film studios, small-run publishers, DAOs, and other collaborative projects that drop releases that manifest a worldview.
We began thinking about this model in the spring of 2021. We first publicly introduced the metalabel concept with Metalabel R.01: Introducing metalabels, in February 2022. That essay and surrounding web experience were the first public expressions of the metalabel form. You can view this talk by Yancey Strickler, the first public presentation of metalabels, from February 2022. Much more on the background of the concept here and here.
Most discussions of labels these days don’t go much beyond how much they suck. Labels are seen as a cultural horse and buggy — an old model nobody wants back (see this tweet-thread from Steve Albini as an example of why).
But that’s the major labels. Indie record labels **are very different (for the most part).
Indie labels were and continue to be (for the most part) grassroots projects representing less commercial styles, points of view, and stories that weren’t trying to get rich, but needed to be told. Indie labels are the scrappy underdogs facing off against the giant, financialized, centralized, sanitized, and sometimes exploitative practices of major labels.
Metalabels are like indie labels. Metalabels are engines for culture.
In the Creator Economy everybody is competing against everybody else for eyeballs and attention. We’re all incentivized to create increasing amounts of content (a term that is somehow supposed to bracket all types of creative media), burning ourselves out and making ourselves lonely and isolated in the process.
This is creativity in single-player mode.
Metalabels are groups of people combining skills, audiences, and resources in support of a larger creative vision or purpose. It’s an umbrella under which peer creators, artists, curators, and others can collaborate, and support one another’s work.
This is what we mean by creativity in multiplayer mode.
Metalabels are different from companies in their incentives and motivations.
Companies exist to provide a service to their customers and to be profitable in doing so. For the last fifty years, the conventional wisdom is that everything a company does must ultimately serve to grow value for shareholders (one of us wrote a book about this in fact, called This Could Be Our Future). There are exceptions like Public Benefit Corporations and co-ops, but these financially maximizing expectations are the overwhelming majority point of view.
Metalabels are different. They’re not trying to maximize financial impact, they’re trying to optimize for cultural influence and relevance based on their worldview. Metalabels exist to manifest an ideal or point of view in the wider world through their releases.
Think of a punk label — everything they’re doing is ultimately in service of manifesting more punkness in the world. Or how a literary journal might be a meaningful and influential cultural project, but also a bad business. The purpose of these projects is not to maximize capital returns, as it is in a company. Their purposes are cultural. These kinds of projects frequently struggle to survive in our existing system because they’re fundamentally alien to traditional corporate motivations. Those projects are misfits in a corporate system because they’re actually metalabels.
This is not to say that metalabels don’t need money — they do. But their financial goals are tied to existential needs like having the funds to drop new work and basic survival rather than maximizing returns. Being a metalabel doesn’t mean you can ignore the bottom-line, but it’s not its reason for existence. In contrast, a company’s financial goals are tied to their arguably legal requirement to please shareholders.
The two are not the same.
Metalabels are release clubs — emphasis on “release.” They’re groups of people who come together to release work that shares an aesthetic or point of view.
DAOs don’t have to release work to exist. DAOs can be focused more inwardly, on growing and supporting members.
DAOs and other online communities can create metalabels, however. A DAO could start a metalabel that releases work by their members and others who reflect the values of the group. An online community could make a metalabel to release magazines and cultural goods that tell and distribute the lore of their community.
Metalabels can also be DAOs in the sense that they can choose to make decisions onchain and through token-based voting mechanisms if they wish. The metalabel structure is extremely open-ended in how groups can choose to operate.
The metalabel structure is something that has existed long before the blockchain and even the internet itself. It’s a recurring form that has utility and can create meaning across many contexts. Metalabels can be part of web3, and many share the same philosophical values and ideals of web3 projects, but they don’t have to be.
On a technical level, some aspects of the Metalabel platform are built on blockchain-based plumbing. The Metalabel platform will use the distributed, public database of the Ethereum blockchain to store a group’s releases and the context of their creative work. In doing so, this ensures that the releases, catalogs, and identities established through Metalabel can travel and have utility beyond the platform’s walls.
All of Metalabel’s onchain interactions are with the Ethereum blockchain that uses a proof-of-stake validation model that results in dramatically less energy usage and carbon emissions than other blockchains and Ethereum in the past.
Our embrace of the record as a digital format is similarly an attempt to increase the value of creative work in the digital realm, while shifting away from more materially demanding formats like excessive swag.
We’re building tools for metalabels to adopt, customize, and use in pursuit of their own creative and cultural goals. We created Metalabel.xyz as a future home for lowercase-m metalabels.
Lowercase-m metalabels are groups of people forming release clubs to drop and support work together. Anyone can start a metalabel, be a part of a metalabel, and release work as a metalabel. We’re happy when groups use the metalabel term to describe themselves.
Our intention is to define the metalabel concept and make the form core infrastructure for creative collaboration. The goal is not to “own” the form, but to serve it and the groups it brings together.
A record is a new digital format that creates a meaningful value exchange between artists and fans around any kind of creative output. Records are a flexible format that metalabels and creators can use to design new kinds of bundles, experiences, and expressions of their work.
A record can contain editions of any creative medium — not just music, but writing, performance, video, games, design, and others. And a record can contain any creative form — physical, digital, conceptual, performative, ephemeral, live, exclusive, mass, or niche.
Records open a new source of income for creators without selling their intellectual property, cannibalizing other revenue streams, or adding the burdens of grantwriting, crowdfunding, or subscriptions to their plate.
Once purchased, records exist permanently onchain outside of any one platform — including Metalabel — so you never lose your work (or your collection, if you’re a supporter) when a platform goes away or changes hands.
Once upon a time twenty-plus years ago, people spent $100 a week on music, books, and magazines, directly supporting the creative cultures they cared about.
Today people rent access to infinite creative work for $15 a month on streaming services, with little of that money going to the creators of the works themselves.
In almost every creative and cultural medium, physical formats with clear, tangible value have been replaced with digital experiences that obfuscate paying for things directly, and that have resulted in devaluing creative work.
The modern digital experience is too convenient and powerful for these changes to roll back. But the struggles of creative people trying to make ends meet under this new regime aren’t going away either. What we really need are new, compelling forms of exchange between creators and audiences.
Digital records reintroduce a direct way to value creative work. Without contributing millions of plastic cases to landfills, records bring back the tradition of paying creators fairly for their work in exchange for something durable, permanent, and collectible.
Because records are digital containers unbounded by the constraints of physical production, this new format can be linked to any creative media. Records allow creators to editionalize not only the usual mass consumer creative goods (books, posters, films, albums, etc.), but also performative, digital, ephemeral, experiential, and other forms of expression that rarely fit consumer contexts.
Records can bundle different formats and mediums together. Because of its digital container, records can be filled with different forms of media, access, and even physical goods.
Records allow creative groups to recoup costs and grow treasuries. Metalabel’s financial contracts allow metalabels and creators to automatically recoup costs, then distribute financial proceeds among contributors after.
Records are a post-platform format. Records are stored and transferrable onchain via the Ethereum blockchain, meaning they can move beyond the Metalabel platform into other worlds and use cases.
Records are simple to make. Unlike subscription patronage, crowdfunding, grant proposals, or traditional products, records are far simpler and cheaper to make. Digital editions offer a new, rewarding way to release and make money from creative works without being saddled with additional unrelated work.
Records are meaningful to own. Records give the public an opportunity to own a durable edition of a creative work and directly support the creators and their vision. No more material production of useless swag — collectors can receive editions of the work itself.
Records preserve creative work in its context. Records include artwork, associated media, a creator’s statement, full credits to all the collaborators, and the ability to add associated works. It’s a deep canvas for setting the context of a creative work.
Because they’re inspired by a creator, their vision, and their work.
By collecting you can:
Directly support a vision, creator, work and/or metalabel you believe in
Own (not rent) editions of work you care about
Collect and display works you’ve given to or bought editions of
Get access to collector benefits and experiences
Hold a permanent, verified, and unique record of creation that can be traded, gifted, or sold onchain
Because records are encoded onchain, they’re available to display, gift, re-sell, or use as an access key on other platforms and services.
They’re also durable: if a platform goes away (including Metalabel), your catalog of records will remain onchain. This is one of the key reasons why records are an onchain format.
Metalabels release records as onchain editions to monetize their work.
Each record has a smart contract that governs contributor splits.
When funds come in, they’re transparently directed to the creators of the release and the treasury of the metalabel that released it according to the terms of the contract. These payments go to creators and contributors of the work, not supporters or external investors.
The default setting is for 70% of proceeds to go to the creators of a record and 30% to the treasury of the metalabel releasing the work once costs are recouped.
The customizable smart contract templates Metalabel provides allow each release to determine its own structure, including whether costs need to be recouped, and how splits will be distributed. These terms are to be mutually-agreed by the metalabel and creators before a record is published.
Creators retain the underlying IP of the media within a record unless explicitly determined otherwise outside of Metalabel.xyz.
Collectors do not receive the intellectual property rights of records or the content of records.
Just like buying a book or an album, collectors own the editions of the work that they purchase or mint, and can transfer or sell those using the Ethereum blockchain if they wish.
Offering ownership of IP or a share of future revenue streams is not permitted on the Metalabel platform.
The first record is After the Creator Economy, a 90-page digital and physical zine exploring how people feel about being a creative person online today. The drop is a collaboration between the metalabel co—matter, Metalabel, and more than twenty contributors.
After the Creator Economy shows off the power and flexibility of the record form.
Records allow drops to mix physical, digital, and experiential goods in one bundled package. Here’s how After the Creator Economy was made available:
A free .pdf download (unlimited)
A 90-page physical zine ($35)(125 available)
A limited-edition digital record containing a digital zine, a voucher for a physical zine, and an access pass to sign the record onchain as a collector (.08 ETH or $70)(100 available)
Because records live onchain, they also have a unique, transparent, and programmable economic structure. Records allows metalabels and creators to tailor the economics of their releases to their needs, including setting aside costs to be recouped, and instantly and transparently splitting proceeds between contributors.
For our release:
The initial $3,000 in sales will be automatically set aside to recoup the printing and mailing costs of the zine
After those funds are recouped:
40% of funds are split between a dozen contributors to the zine
30% of funds go to co-matter as co-editor of the zine
30% of funds go to the Metalabel Release Club treasury to fund future releases
All of this is transparent and available for anyone to see
It is. In our usage, a record is a digital container that can hold any form of media — not just music.
There are semantic origins to both the vinyl and digital concepts of a record that are similar however.
Referring to vinyl, “record” is shorthand for “recording,” meaning the capturing of a musical, theatrical, or historical performance.
Here, “record” is short for record of creation, a catalog entry and object that preserves the context, origins, authorship, and provenance of a creative work.
We remember the feeling of looking at our parents’s record collections and the wonder the album covers and universes they contained sparked in us.
Metalabel’s reinvention of the record speaks from those feelings. Records are an expression of love and admiration for art, creative world-building, and the people who frequently undergo significant challenges to make them. We want these new records to bring a sense of wonder to those creative works, and to help properly value them, too.
To collect a record, you must first connect your wallet using the “Connect” button in the navigation bar. Once you have connected your wallet, you have the option to mint the record, provided your wallet holds enough ETH to pay for the record and gas costs of the transaction.
Currently you must use a wallet holding ETH to purchase a record. Support for credit card payments for records will be added in the future.
When your wallet is connected to Metalabel, you will see a dropdown menu in the top-right corner of the navigation bar. Clicking that will reveal the list of records you hold.
With your wallet connected, navigate to the dropdown menu in the top-right of the Metalabel menu bar, then click on the record whose benefits you want to claim. On that page you will find the different benefits contained within the record listed. If you are able to claim a benefit from something in a record, a button will appear inviting you to share your address or other information the metalabel will need for fulfillment.
No. Once you have minted a record, you have created an entry onchain, which cannot be undone. If you wish you can choose to sell a record you bought using services like OpenSea.
Metalabels are collaborative projects where groups of people come together to collaborate and drop work — by them and/or by others who share their perspective, taste, or aesthetic.
There are five elements needed to create a metalabel:
A purpose that brings your metalabel together
Members of or contributors to the metalabel
Releases you will drop together
Participation rules you will follow
An identity through which you’ll release work
The Metalabel platform includes a tool called Elements of a Metalabel that can help you and your group explore what these things are for you, and to build a compass for your metalabel to follow as you release work together.
In the new year, the Metalabel platform will offer tools and a directory that will allow metalabels to formally establish themselves and release and sell work in the Metalabel.xyz universe. Sign up to be notified here.
We’ve heard from many collaborative projects who have felt seen by the metalabel concept and structure. Because of the dominance of individualism in our creative culture, people who operate in group structures sometimes have trouble explaining their work in conversations, and categorizing their work in general in the wider world. We’ve been encouraged and moved to hear from groups who feel seen and understood by the metalabel lens.
So are you already a metalabel? Examples of metalabels include projects like:
The Royal Society
Friends With Benefits
The Whole Earth Catalog
No Limit Records
You can find many more in an editorial section called Spotted.
If these projects sounds like you — congratulations, you might be a metalabel!
Metalabel.xyz is still in the early stages of its world-building, but the best way to get started is the Elements of a Metalabel tool. It will help you try on the metalabel lens for your project. You can sign up to join the waitlist for future Metalabel expansion here.
We’d start with...
How culture is made — looking at metalabels throughout history
Introducing Metalabel — the essay that first introduced metalabels
Evolution of the solopreneur — showing how solo projects have evolved to become metalabels
Quorum is becoming a metalabel — how one of the first metalabels got off the ground
Life after lifestyle by Toby Shorin explores the metalabel space in a way that we greatly appreciate
The internet culture era on the origins of metalabels
The Onchain Era on how blockchains can support a better future for creative groups
A metalabel’s purpose is why it exists. It reflects a belief, taste, or desire that’s commonly held by the people brought together around its releases.
Purposes aren’t like mission statements, however. It’s not something you can necessarily achieve, wordsmith to death, or get just right. A purpose is a direction and set of values that a group of people create and uphold together.
In some metalabels, nailing the language of their purpose is something that happens right from the beginning, and that actually inspires the creation of the group. This is somewhat the case with the activist groups Extinction Rebellion and the Guerrilla Girls, for example. But in other cases, the process of defining the exact language of the group’s purpose is ongoing, and may never end.
Ultimately getting the words right is less important than staying true to that energy and feeling in your stomachs that inspired the group to come together in the first place.
A creative purpose is at the heart of any great metalabel. It’s the point of view, the aesthetics, the values, the ideals that make a metalabel worth being a part of. A metalabel’s purpose is its North Star — the context of every release it puts out. The bigger picture it’s all adding up to. Purposes can be as simple and pure as “have fun together.” It doesn’t have to be grand. But identifying that core shared belief will greatly improve and simplify your metalabel’s output and experience.
Everything a metalabel does should positively contribute to its core purpose. It’s a magnetic north that should pull all actions and decisions in its direction.
For Metalabel Release Club, the squad behind Metalabel, our purpose is to establish the metalabel as core infrastructure for creative collaboration. One of the ways we make decisions is asking ourselves how a choice positively or negatively contributes to that goal.
But that goal is not the only factor. Within a metalabel there are defined rules of participation and ways of doing things. Because metalabels are releasing creative and cultural works, they also think about how their releases are dropped, what context they put them in, who to collaborate with, and how to create support for their releases.
The culmination of all of this strategizing is publicly releasing work that fulfills the metalabel’s purpose. By following this purpose consistently and iteratively over the longterm, metalabels are capable of accomplishing enormous things. See this essay on “How culture is made” for more.
There are no exact measurements for purpose, but there are directional signals:
Are more or less people engaging with your work?
Are others adopting your language or your lens on the world?
Are people reaching out wanting to collaborate with you?
In your heart, do you feel like your work is connecting or not connecting? (Be honest with yourself — it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.)
Every metalabel curates its output differently.
In some cases it’s a core leader who greenlights and has final say over projects.
In other cases a group may vote on what to release, and give the creator of the work creative freedom over their work.
Totally up to you. There’s no right or wrong answer.
There are metalabels that take pride in being open and democratic, and are more about the act of creating, changing culture, or planting a flag for a point of view in the world, and who are very permissive in what they release. The environmental activists Extinction Rebellion, for example, allow anyone to take action in their name so long as they follow some basic rules.
For other metalabels, the act of curation and the context it creates is the primary offering of the metalabel. Someone like A24, for example, has curated its projects and output so well that it means a great deal whenever they put something out.
This is an ideal position for most metalabels, but it’s not an easy one to get to. Building a good reputation takes time, consistency, good work, and treating people well. There are no shortcuts to building something that really matters.
We found this piece from Samantha Marin that explores how metalabels provide flexibility between being open and curated to be illuminating on this topic.
There are a lot of ways:
Making a creative contribution to the work itself
Providing emotional, creative, and logistical support to the team working on the project
Promoting the release once it’s released
Creating support structures and processes that allow your metalabel to iterate on how you release: someone who manages finances, or if the metalabel is a DAO, someone who facilitates conversations on the forum and schedules votes could all be critical parts of a release’s success.
It’s going to be different in each metalabel.
For most, it’s going to be the creator of the work that has a final say.
In other cases it might be a leader within the metalabel itself, or a group of leaders within the metalabel.
Agreements about creative freedom, ownership, pay, and who has final say should be established at the beginning of the release process.
Every project will have its natural rhythm.
For newsletters and podcasts, weekly drops might make sense
For projects doing longer form releases, monthly or quarterly might suffice
So long as a drop fits the lens of your metalabel, it’s probably worth dropping
Some other frames of reference:
A group like MSCHF posts new drops every two weeks.
During Metalabel.xyz’s lifespan, we’ve averaged one release every six weeks.
Within most metalabels there’s an implicit and even explicit agreement: we treat every release by the metalabel as if it were our own. Knowing that a chorus of voices are aligned on amplifying a work will bring it greater attention and meaning.
Another strategy is the concept of “release windows” — basically, for how long do you plan to promote each release? It’s important for releases to be supported not just the day they drop, but over time with new angles, content, supporters, and public moments that stretch out how long the release is in the public consciousness. This is a tactic the best record labels use to great effect. Learn from them!
Metalabel collaborations come in all shapes and sizes.
Some metalabels are a hub-and-spoke model with a central curator or director guiding the releases and operations of the metalabel, and releases coming from creators who they curate. In this model, decisions would be largely centralized, but the metalabel’s output would be from a plurality of voices.
Other metalabels use a more egalitarian or democratic structure where decisions are made through democratic consensus, and where everyone has an equal voice in what happens.
Still other metalabels might be structured more like hierarchies or heterachies, with individual or collective leadership roles and separate teams overseeing different functions of the metalabel’s operations.
There’s a wide variety of possibilities. Listing some of them:
Democratic co-creation and co-curation
DAOs with various voting mechanisms
Currently Metalabels make money by selling copies and editions of their releases. The traditional way to do this in traditional physical and online retail — selling books, albums, food, or whatever else.
Next year, Metalabel.xyz will make available the record format to enable new forms of direct exchange between metalabels, creators, and collectors.
Metalabels must make their own researched and independently legally-informed agreements among the creators of a release ahead of time detailing the financial and intellectual property ownership structure of their collaboration.
Once determined, the splits will be automatically processed pursuant to the metalabel’s multisig smart contract. Once a split contract is deployed, it is immutable and cannot be changed or paused. Metalabel does not have the ability to control or access deployed split contracts. Funds that are deposited into a split contract remain there until someone invokes the distribute function on the contract.
Future Metalabel.xyz tools will offer norms, defaults, and automatic splits that metalabels can use for their releases. These settings can be edited by metalabels and creators to fit the terms that make sense for them.
They absolutely can be. A project like Cards Against Humanity has thrived putting out discrete releases that range from stunts to products, and have been able to consistently raise their ambitions and level of work thanks to their success. For most metalabels, the goal is first and foremost to make good work that makes an impact on the world, and second, to be able to do that over time.
All of the above. Any kind of organizational structure could effectively adopt the metalabel form. Metalabels are infrastructure tools that can be used by anyone, from individuals to any of the entity types listed above. We do not control who can use these tools or how they can be used. It is all up to the metalabel participants (subject to the Metalabel Terms of Service).
Anytime you’re making money selling work, there are tax implications that must be accounted for, and that become more pressing the more money you make. Similarly, when you make money with a group of people working together, you could be forming an association, which has larger tax and legal implications the bigger you get, and depending on the structure of your project. For these and other reasons, consider consulting with your own tax and legal advisors before taking funds as a metalabel.
We're an egalitarian squad scattered around the world. We are Anna Bulbrook, Austin Robey, Brandon Valosek, Ilya Yudanov, Lauren Dorman, Rob Kalin, and Yancey Strickler.
Among us are: the cofounders of Kickstarter, Etsy, Ampled, the Creative Independent, and Gxrlschool; authors, musicians, woodworkers, ex-bartenders, and co-op organizers; and contributors to Ableton, the Berghain, Spotify, TED, Pitchfork, The Village Voice, and other projects.
Yes. We’re a group of people who share a belief in creative collaboration and have come together to release work that can help more people experience the joys of creating together.
Our purpose is to establish the metalabel as key infrastructure for creative collaboration. We want to create a new culture where creative people are encouraged to support and collaborate with one another to make great work. We drop experiences, products, publications, and tools to help manifest that future.
Our releases to date are:
R.01 Introducing Metalabel
R.02 Elements of a Metalabel
R.05 Public Record
R.06 After the Creator Economy
We’re a small team of six full-time squad members and another half-dozen liquid contributors scattered around the world.
We use an egalitarian compensation structure: full-time squad members are paid the same and own equal, partner-level amouts of equity in the project.
We function as a heterarchy — a structure that allows for contextually fluid leadership where different people are empowered to make final decisions in different areas of our work.
One of us owns the design and visual aspect, for example, while others are responsible for guiding how we build protocols, and others are experts in network design. Each of us is empowered to make decisions in our areas according to our expertise and experience. We are all leaders in different domains of what we do.
In the case of our releases, the person whose idea it was is the heterarchical leader for that project. They guide the vision and execution of that drop. The rest of the squad is always there to support and improve each other’s work.
So far all of our releases have organically appeared in front of us. No official votes were taken. They felt like the right things to do. We’ve approached them with a process that’s gradually become refined:
Release proposal briefs to sketch out possible drops
A squad critique where an idea is pitched and debated
In-process and final critiques to help keep the release on track for success
A retro after each release to review how it did, what worked, and what didn’t
We coordinate and communicate with each other through a process we call metablogging. Each of us keeps an internally public blog where we post weekly on things we’re working on and thinking about. Those metablogs are where a lot of our key decisions get made.
For a team scattered around the world, this kind of asynchronous, transparent collaboration structure is crucial. Since we introduced the concept, other projects have adopted the same method, including Gnosis Guild, Colors, Seed Club Ventures, and others.
A heterarchy is a contextually fluid leadership structure where different people are empowered to make final decisions in different areas of an organization’s work.
The goal of a heterarchy is to embrace the efficiency and clarity of hierarchical structures, while also making sure that power flows to the right hands in each moment rather than being calcified in under a single leader or failure point.
A structure that embraces the idea of different leaders in different contexts
A structure that sees everyone in an organization as a potential leader
A structure that is meant to pair speed of decision making and execution with the actual executors involved in the project
Taking turns in seats of responsibility — the goal isn't changing leaders just to change them, it’s making sure the right person has the right to lead a specific issue
A structure that can only be surface level — it’s important for a heterarchal structure to also go down to the ownership and information sharing levels as well
We’re not aware of a lot of literature around heterarchies. These are strategies and terminology that organically emerged for us. But a close cousin of this way of working is the Teal organizational model, as explored in Frederic Laloux’s excellent Rethinking Organizations.
There are six main ideas behind the Metalabel universe:
Post-individualism: People once saw individualism as liberation. Today people see it as a limited existence to graduate beyond by building identities based on the groups and ideologies we ascribe to. “Once upon a time people were born into communities and had to find their individuality. Today people are born individuals and have to find their communities.” — K-Hole
World building as self care: The worlds we live in are often in direct conflict with our core beliefs. To protect ourselves and others, we invent universes where our dreams can be true and we can safely be our selves. World-building is self-care.
Context is queen: The value of anything is defined by its context — what it's next to, who made it, how it began. Context is a force that ascribes objects with value. We're drowning in content yet starved for context.
Catalogs are autobiographies: What we make is our autobiography. Today our autobiographies are scattered across platforms and venues, limiting our ability to see or tell our full story. Cataloging reclaims context and tells our story the way we see it.
The decline of the creator economy: Creators don't want to be isolated content machines. They want to explore and feel connected to peers. The next creative culture will be informed by new tools and applications of co-ownership, interdependence, and public infrastructure.
Collective stewardship and ownership: Post-individual organizations require updated social contracts and rules of participation, including new expressions of collective ownership, governance, and community stewardship and accountability.
Thanks to Metalabel members gonsher, Pablo Martinez, Mark Redito, Severin Matusek, Samantha Marin, Keely Adler, and Alan McFetridge for making helpful edits and suggestions to this FAQ. And thanks to you for reading all the way to the end!