/ tambah / from the musical term ‘timbre’ – meaning ‘the characteristic or quality of a sound’ /
We came together to write a song for you and our earth.
The Tambah project began as one of those casual lofty conversations on the beach between two people wanting to change the world. Those two people were Ed Foster of LUSTRE and Emily Toner of Wye in the Sky Records. Their tool of choice; music. The big idea was simply wanting to use the power of music in an impactful way.
At the time, devastating bushfires had ravaged the country, so we wanted to do our bit to tell a story of hope and regeneration amongst the climate distress and chaos. Not denying the destruction and distress, but reminding people that there is still much beauty worth protecting. We are far more likely to look after our beautiful world when we are experiencing love and hope, than sitting in fear and overwhelm.
So we brought some brilliant artists together to write and record a song that could spread a message of hope, regeneration and community. Our goal was to carry out the project in a carbon neutral way, raising money for regeneration and conservation projects in our area. We decided that no one would own the track, we were creating a ‘song for the earth,’ so royalties from every stream would go towards a rewilding project instead. We could think of no one more effective and impactful than Wild Ark (read all about them here).
Then Covid hit, and boom… the world entered into disarray. It felt like our goal posts shifted from the environment, to finding connection within the isolation. At the same time, the essence of what we wanted to do was even more relevant – to create music with impact. Music that made a difference to peoples’ lives and the world around them.
So just as the pandemic was unfolding, our lofty idea became manifest and we bunkered down in the studio with our three artists, Billy Otto, Nidala Barker and Kyle Lionhart, united together by the common goal of ‘making art count’ – intent on writing a song for the people and for mother earth. From it, ‘Our Song’ was born.
The three central tenets of the Tambah philosophy are:
1. It is community-driven
Like Nina so simply and powerfully put it, an ‘artist's responsibility is to reflect the times’, but all too often (definitely not always) our pop music is about things that don’t matter, manufactured to make money, not make a difference to peoples’ lives. Perhaps these are the times we live in.
We wanted to flip that and give fans the opportunity to have a voice, by telling us what matters most to them at present and what they'd love their favourite artists to be writing about – “Hey everyone, what are the times you are really experiencing?” We wanted to give artists an opportunity to speak directly to that through the power of song. To free them from the commercial constraints of trying to get on a playlist, ad or radio station. Simply put, to help them #makeartcount. In doing so, we would also provide the artist with a direct line into building a solid connection with fans, which is ultimately the most important thing for their business, creating bottom-up, community-driven music.
2. The song is owned by the people
Copyright is great. It’s also very complicated, but it’s what allows creators to earn a living off their creations in the world that we live in. However, you could (and we would) argue that music is really part of the commons, in the same way that water and air and other natural resources are. No one owns it. It just exists. At its most basic, we take water from rivers to nourish us. We hear melodies and make songs which also nourish us. They are basic needs and basic rights. However, the same way the water and air has been bottled up and sold off, so too music is packaged up and sold within our market economy. And with it, a part of its inherent purity, beauty and intangible value is diminished. Again, this isn’t all bad. Within this framework, many amazing songs have been written, livelihoods created and a whole industry funded that supports many workers. It is important to acknowledge that. It’s just all got a bit lost perhaps.
You may be surprised to know, but most of the copyright in the world is owned by just three companies. In this way there is a massive discrepancy between those at the top (i.e. Mr Ed Sheeran) and those at the bottom (i.e. Your mate playing at the pub). This system is arguably not serving the best outcomes for everyone involved, including artists, fans and workers. With distribution channels so tightly controlled and so much influence tied up in a few big companies and their closed networks, the end result is a decrease in opportunities for most artists and a forced homogenisation of the sound – in a quest to make a ‘song that streams’. The goal becomes less about exploring the furthest corners of creative expression and sharing that, and more about getting on this playlist or that radio show and understandably trying to make a living.
So for Tambah, we wanted to experiment with a different model – where no one owns the track and the goal is not a certain playlist. It belongs to everyone, and all proceeds go back to the earth. We get paid through funding. It creates a nice little circle. The song is created for the earth and its people; by listening the people generate funds that help rewild the earth and nourish their souls; and the earth gets even more beautiful and full of love (or chaos), which inspires more creativity. Music as the commons….wouldn’t that really be magic?
3. Every stream makes the track greener
We all know there is a climate crisis. But what do we do about it? How about make carbon offsetting the new music industry standard. The music industry is one of the worst polluters, with enormous impact from live touring in particular. So in this project, we measured our impact and will commit the first royalty dollars towards offsetting the carbon footprint that we created. Other projects might stop there, we all have to earn a living after all. For this project however, after covering basic costs, we are committing every further dollar to Wild Ark; a non-profit working to conserve and rewild the planet in 50 global priority ecosystems around the world. So everytime you stream or download it, the track gets cleaner and the planet gets greener.
Out of all of this was born the Tambah project, a platform to try and house these lofty ideals, ambitions and intentions. To create a better world through music, because we believe in ‘a world more beautiful than our hearts know is possible - Charles Eisenstein’.
In the future, we envision music being incentivised by not only sounding great, but by being ethically made, just like in other industries such as fashion and food.
Listening as an opportunity to rewild our earth?
That’s to #listenresponsibly.
Please join us on the journey and…
1. Listen and share the song
Stream for a greener planet by heading here
2. Support the Tambah Project
Donate directly here
Download the track and pay what you want here
3. Tell us what matters to you
Help us determine the theme for our next project below