04 October 2022


Anna Bulbrook

Lauren Dorman

Rob Kalin

Austin Robey

Yancey Strickler

Brandon Valosek

Ilya Yudanov

Public record

Introducing Public Record

Context for our biggest release yet

Today marks the fifth drop in the Metalabel universe and our biggest to date: Public Record, a publication exploring creative collaboration and the metalabel structure.

We want to share our thinking behind this release from three lenses:

— Showing metalabels IRL

— Establishing the metalabel form

— Progressive productization

Let us explain. :) 

Showing metalabels IRL

In February we introduced metalabels with our first release (R.01). We’ve continued to explore the form since with a series of drops, events, and dozens of interviews with groups who operate using metalabel-like models.

Public Record presents the things we’ve learned and continue to learn in that process: in-depth conversations with creators and metalabels about how they operate; how great collectives across history have worked; and exploring where the form might go.

In our Features section you hear directly from collaborative groups about how they work together. To start, there’s Austin Robey’s piece about Protein’s progression to community ownership and an essay by Yancey Strickler exploring how the the metalabel form has persisted across history through groups as varied as the Royal Society, Dischord Records, and the Guerrilla Girls.

In a format we call Spotted, we editorially highlight metalabels past and present that inspire us. So far we’ve spotted groups like RadicalXChange, Dischord Records, Gitcoin, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Extinction Rebellion, highlighting their purposes, member models, releases, histories, and respective impacts on the world.

We’re grateful to be making Public Record alongside some amazing contributors, including The Creative Independent’s Brandon Stosuy, designer Mikki Janower, and a growing list of contributing writers (shoutout Xavier Codie, whose Spotteds are great). Metalabel’s Anna Bulbrook is Public Record’s Curator, Ilya Yudanov its Creative Director, and Austin and Yancey two of its staff writers. If you’d like to join us in contributing, reach out.

Establishing the metalabel form

Metalabels are release clubs where groups of people who share the same interests collaborate to drop and support work together. It’s a lightweight structure that creates economic, emotional, and creative alignment between collaborators. 

Our goal is to establish the metalabel form as key infrastructure for creative collaboration, and an answer to the loneliness and the content grind of the Creator Economy. A new page called “What’s a metalabel?” explains how metalabels work, how they improve on the status quo, and invites groups to try on the framework for themselves. 

We see todays’s release as the start of a longer process of lowercaseification from uppercase-M Metalabel the platform and squad to lowercase-m metalabels started by creative groups in support of their goals.

Progressive productization

Appropriately for a project with a name like ours, we approach our work with a meta-awareness that the choices we face are decisions future metalabels might face. (One of the reasons we’ve adopted metablogging as an internal tool for documenting our work, for example.) So not only are we building the Metalabel universe, we’re its first customers and guinea pigs as well. 

We call this approach to building progressive productization. Simply put, this means that we first make things to fulfill our own needs and desires as a metalabel, and that once something works for us, we make that product or experience available to others.

Four of our releases already are exact examples of this:

  • R.02: Elements of a Metalabel introduced a framework for thinking through one’s metalabel that we ourselves first used to help understand our own structure and output. 

  • R.03: ASSEMBLY reframed a cohort-based educational model we were part of with the accelerator Seed Club and tailored it to the needs of creative collectives.

  • R.04: Chorus was first a bot we made for our community to collectively tweet as Metalabel, then we collaborated with Trust to open-source it. Today 100-plus communities are using Chorus to speak with a collective voice.

  • R.05: Public Record began with us interviewing collectives we admire so we could learn from them how best to operate in this structure. Now we’re opening up that learning process to the public so everyone can benefit from their insights.

Metalabel.xyz will continue to progressively productize in this same way, turning the actions and capabilities that we use into products that other metalabels can use. To be among the first groups to use these products, sign up to join the waitlist here.

Public Record

All of which brings us back to today’s release: Public Record, which will update weekly with insights on how metalabels collaborate and release work effectively. 

This release is the start of a longer journey of lowercaseification of the metalabel form and the progressive productization of Metalabel.xyz into a powerful engine for groups to manifest their points of view.

We’ll have much more to say in messages to come. Until then we hope you enjoy our growing universe. Apply to join if you’d like to be a part of it.


[Multiplayer Mode]

How culture is made

words by Yancey Strickler

[Exit To Community]

Me, we, us: Protein’s evolution towards community ownership

words by Austin Robey

Stay tuned


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