By Blake Nelson
In the past five years Reno has seen an upsurge in art and culture among local artists and businesses. Mainstays in the area, such as The Holland Project and Reno Art Works, have greatly assisted in what has been deemed the “Renossaince,” but now the next generation of forward-thinking individuals are coming together to further Reno’s growing art community.
Cool Tapes Sound Collective, a nonprofit that officially filed for the title in February, has recently been making moves to create what will eventually become a fully formed independent recording label with many other programs and activities for the betterment of the future local art scene.
The organization, founded by Rose Molina and Lex White in December of last year, is aptly called a collective due to its ambition in outreach and coordinating among local artists, venues and businesses.
Just in the past month, Cool Tapes has hosted and organized the Cool Tapes Arts & Music Festival that featured around 10 bands, including local icons City Wolves, and has coordinated with other venues in town to host multiple concerts each weekend.
The collective hosts concerts at around 10 venues, and the list is growing. The average Cool Tapes concert is filled with local bands playing to an energetic crowd in venues that range from The Potentialist Workshop to the Hideout Lounge.
“We want to put on really good shows for the community,” White said. “Something that I would want to go to, but also support the artist at the same time.”
Through volunteers and growing interest in art and culture, the collective has begun to accomplish that goal of putting on shows and helping art and culture flourish.
Cool Tapes, as the name suggests, also releases tapes for local bands. Although tapes are seen as an outmoded format, Cool Tapes believes that it represents more to the consumer in the long run.
“If you put [the album] on a CD people will just throw it on their computer and they’ll never use the CD again,”Molina said. “So you might as well use a more novel way to package a download code.”
The format is also cheaper, and can help an artist gross more money through its releases.
The collective has also contacted local businesses to help sponsor local bands by providing funds for T-shirts with both the band’s logo and the business’s logo. The band would keep 80 percent of the shirt sales and the other 20 percent goes back to the collective to cover the cost of making the shirts. The relationship is meant to support the artist and business at the same time.
The nonprofit also utilizes the pay-what-you-want model for funding, especially at shows and with recorded music. The collective enjoys this model even though pay-what-you-want can make it harder to turn a strong profit. However, the goal for Cool Tapes is to promote art, rather than make a large profit. With a base rate to cover costs, anything more goes directly to artists.
“We’re not making that much money,” White said. “But the money comes after all the great stuff we’re doing.”
To help fund future projects, Cool Tapes currently has a GoFundMe that has raised over $300 in two weeks.
Besides the main goal of music promotion, the collective is also releasing a magazine in June, in which there will be concert reviews as well as local art and writing. Also, this summer, Cool Tapes will be giving volunteer-run classes to teach younger members of the community to play instruments.
This all coming from a staff of 12 people, leading to a very busy group of individuals, each juggling programming between multiple groups of people and an Internet presence, while still trying to put on fun and lively events.
And the activity is paying off — each show boasts a larger and larger audience that is more aware of the impact of the collective.
“What they’re doing is great,” said Mark Nesbitt, an audience member at Sunday’s Acoustic Punk Night at the Hideout Lounge. “It’s a lot more than what people in the past have done.”
The future for Cool Tapes is uncertain, but it is planning for multiple events this summer, including a host of concerts around Reno. Cool Tapes is also aiming to release an album with local band Heard of Elephants? sometime this year.
A little further on in the future, the collective wants to establish its own recording studio to help streamline the recording and publishing process for musicians.
Support for Cool Tapes is steadily growing through an eager community that wants to support art in its town. Its reputation has grown in the past month with bands from out of town contacting the collective to help it put on a concert. Molina and White are confident that the publicity will only help in the long run.
“When you put on good shows, you get a reputation,” White said. “And people want you to put on more shows.”
Blake Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @b_e_nelson.