The state51 Conspiracy has been connecting the worlds of music, technology and creativity for three decades.
We are a record label and distributor. We make products in our Atelier and make content in our Factory. We release and market music and build audiences. Our team has many years of expertise in marketing, PR, creative, product design, project management, rights administration and more.
Our production capabilities and our spaces are exciting and unique: they give us the luxury of deep creative exploration and experimentation. The look and feel of what we do and how we work with artists and labels is completely different to any other music company.
We produce live sessions, video content, press shots, marketing assets, events and more - all in-house and in our spaces. We even have a chef on site.
We run greedbag webstores and publish greedmag, a music, records and culture zine. Each issue, we print 1000 copies and send out to greedbag customers. We run a regular pop-up record shop and host launch parties.
We re-invest our money into projects that support artists and labels, not VC funds. We’re totally independent and play by our own rules.
We pride ourselves on taking a different approach and would love to get to know you.
Labels and artists, past and present:
Lo Recordings, pinkflag, Ghost Box Records, Trunk Records, Clay Pipe Music, Wire, Point Blank, Bella Union, Heavenly Recordings, Soundway Records, Love Love, Damaged Goods, Jalapeno Records, Kansas Smitty’s, NUXXE, Sways, Trim, Stones Throw, Tom Robinson, Donovan, Van Morrison, Glastonbury Festival, The Band Aid Trust, Fake Laugh, Gnod, JK Flesh, Anushka Chkheidze, Kevin Godley, Steve Levine, Korhan Futaci, Nijuu, NxxxxxS, Bladud Flies!, Industrial Records, Coil, Carter Tutti Void, Chris & Cosey, Daniel Pemberton, Fyfe Dangerfield, Guillemots, Toby Hay, Ann Wilson, GRGDN Music, Subtext, Arc Light Editions, R&S, Minty, Strange Attractor, Swim, Teleplasmiste, Alva Noto, Pete Fowler, Psapp, Saint Etienne, Front and Follow, Fika, Trestle, Not Applicable, The Leaf Label, Steve Jansen, Minimal Compact, Her Ensemble and many more.
Media partners: Wire magazine, DIY magazine, The Quietus, Independent Music Podcast
A history of The state51 Conspiracy by its founder.
“When the internet looked like it might become popular, sometime in the Spring of 1993, I brought a group of people together to make a website, and that was the start of The state51 Conspiracy.
I had started a business working with music and technology two years earlier, convinced that the combination would have huge impact, but not yet seeing what might happen. The state51 website was a focus point for a lot of experiments around how music and audiences would come together on the internet. We started calling ourselves The state51 Conspiracy - it seemed a bit subversive and mysterious, signalled our base in the UK, and gave us a platform which could grow as more conspirators joined. Part of the project was what became the UK’s first UGC website - the Knowhere Guide.
With a live example of a music website we quickly got the attention of the music industry, as a few record label executives started to notice what was happening online. In 1995 Virgin Records signed me up on a contract to help them build a strategy and their own websites, and develop other interactive tech+music projects. Over the next few years the state51 team won many creative awards for work with Virgin on Spice Girls, The Verve, Genesis, The Rolling Stones, Boy George, Future Sound of London - and many more. Our work led to a contract to help EMI Group with global strategy and projects, including interactive TV production.
With some record labels we knew we created an online music shop network, Greedbag, and that became the core of our digital music distribution collective. We were also doing some consulting and creative projects, including BT’s pre-launch content for the UK’s first broadband service. Having been based in the Brick Lane brewery since 1992, in 1999 we moved into a derelict site at the north end of Brick Lane, installed a fibre internet link, and that became the state51 Factory.
The first part of the 21st century saw the emergence of the state51 platform, my attempt to build a foundation which I felt would be needed as the music industry went digital. We started to work with a startup called PlayLouder, and then, anticipating the emergence of digital music services, added the first digital supply chain tools to the platform, which meant when the iTunes store opened we could already send them music. We’d split from Virgin and EMI by 2001. In 2002 I founded Consolidated Independent as a vehicle to help independent labels avoid being locked out of the new digital markets. Among CI’s many clients have been BMG, Sanctuary, Beggars, Redeye, The Orchard, Fuga, Secretly Canadian, AWAL, the BBC…
With the PlayLouder team I started a project which hoped to address some of the problems with digital music by bundling music subscriptions with broadband. Subscribers could use filesharing freely, and a full set of social music features and editorial. We called it MSP. It was picked up and developed by Virgin Media for their cable internet service, but was killed by UMG. We did launch and run two music services using the platform I built, in Ireland and Quebec. With co-founder Paul Hitchman I went to Downing Street to explain the model to then PM Gordon Brown’s advisors. Also with the PlayLouder team we staged Virtual Glastonbury as a streaming music festival, and then took a live streaming and media production team to the real Glastonbury, and put as much of the show online as we could.
With the state51 Conspiracy growing we moved it into its own company in 2005. We were still mostly working with small independent labels. I wanted to be open and inclusive, so we created the state51 Collective to give anyone with music the same access that the biggest labels had to digital markets. I had started being asked to participate in music industry and trade association activities. With our industry peers we started the DDEX digital supply chain standardisation process. I took on the independent liaison role. I was part of a music industry initiative called the Value Recognition Strategy (‘Music moguls seek security blanket’ - LA Times), which brought together trade associations and others to map out a healthier relationship between music and technology. The state51 Conspiracy was a founder member of Merlin, the independent digital licensing and copyright protection consortium.
Working with ISPs had made me much more aware of some of the issues around privacy and copyright. Silence on matters of human rights even in such a lightweight field as music is not an ethical position. I joined the Open Rights Group’s advisory council in 2009 to help formulate a more creator friendly position, and start a necessary dialogue. It’s hard to get a sense of the value of opinions about things, and easy to claim foresight with some exculpatory revisionism. In 2010 I started writing an occasional position piece, to clarify my thinking and to create a record against which the future could be compared when it arrived. It’s online at ratpie.org.
In 2012 we took a lease on another empty building near Brick Lane, St Matthew’s Church Hall, as a home for the state51 record label and a new warehouse for Greedbag. The Church and the Factory are state51’s homes today.”
- Paul Sanders