What is Ropeadope?

 

A label, a brand, a moving force with a life of its own that is larger than life. Founded at the close of the last century, Ropeadope has taken the path less traveled, always following the music where it wants to go. From historically significant records with celebrity names to completely unknown artists, Ropeadope has crossed boundaries and defied music business logic to create a truly unique company that continues to release great music. 

Our clothing is legendary - every week we hear from fans looking for re-releases of the classics that they bought back in the day. Our Renew Orleans tees were a symbol of hope and unity after hurricane Katrina; so much so that they were featured on the opening episode of Treme as they recreated the scene of New Orleans after the storm. Our Renew York and Renew Jersey tees continue our commitment to musicians and their fans in times of need. 

Ropeadope is a story of inclusion. We view the world as a place of one, where music is a unifying force connecting all of us. We accept that musicians know their art better than businessmen do. We know that this concept, this thing called Ropeadope, is larger than any of us. And so we follow wherever Ropeadope may lead. 

CONTACT

customer service

orders@ropeadope.com

 submit music

Louis Marks / louis@ropeadope.com

Record stores

indies@ropeadope.com

Licensing

licensing@ropeadope.com

publicity

Fabian Brown

label management

Ben Mathewson

design | marketing

Kaya Marks


A statement on the future of Ropeadope

The music business has changed (again). We’ve watched as the pundits, the carnival barkers, and the monopoly guys all talked about the new music business and how you too can be famous and make a million. We’ve heard talk about the end being near, about the new rules of ‘social engagement’ and even about free culture movement where artists just give their work away. blah blah blah. 

Ropeadope exists because one record needed to be heard. and we continue to exist for that same reason. We’ve taken the punches and waited for our turn at the K.O.. and all the while we’ve done one thing - released good records. As we look to the future we will continue with a new game plan - a good old fashioned label. Back in the day - THE day, labels worked it the hard way. Scouting relentlessly for artists, honing both their musical taste and their cultural understanding to match new music with new people. They called the stores, they packed the orders, they drove around with cds in the trunk and visited radio stations. and their work was rewarded by connecting the artists and the fans. We like that method, and as we move forward we pledge not to lose that direct connection to the music, the artists, and the fans. Ropeadope continues to thrive because of the loyal support of thousands of serious music lovers out there, and for that we thank you. In this new age of media, please remember that it takes a lot of effort to make great music. If you love it, and we know you do, please continue to support musicians by spreading the word and yes, buying their music.
— Louis Marks (CEO)

our history

1999 - Ropeadope begins with the single purpose of releasing DJ Logic's 'Project Logic' The record is a big success and a new indie label is born. 


2001 - Ropeadope clothing is born in Philly, and continues to evolve as a hip and focused apparel brand with a message.The label releases The Philadelphia Experiment featuring Ahmir Thompson (?questlove), Uri Caine, and Christian Mcbride to critical acclaim. The Word introduces key artists to the world - Robert Randolph, Luther and Cody Dickinson of the north mississippi allstars. 


2002 - Key releases include Spanish Harlem Orchestra - Un Grand Dia En El Barrio, which is nominated for a Grammy. Willie Nelson appears as a guest on The Tin Hat Trio record - The Rodeo Eroded. And, The Dirty Dozen Brass band's Medicated Magic features Robert Randolph, Dr John, and Olu Dara and introduces the young Norah Jones to the world. The Ropeadope New Music Seminar launches with a wild night at The Mercury Lounge in NYC. 

2003 - Crossover to electronic music comes with the release of The Detroit Experiment, produced by the legendary Carl Craig. Mike Gordon of Phish fame appears with his solo record Inside In. 

2004 - Ropeadope releases the Antibalas classic 'Who is this America?, followup records by Dirty Dozen and Tin Hat Trio, and finishes out the year with the live 3 disc set from Christian McBride - Live At Tonic. Blue Note Records signs on for a clothing line that features hip remixes of 50's and 60's album design - the line is wildly popular among jazz enthusiasts and hipsters alike. 

2005 - Renew Orleans is launched in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, raising over $ 80,000.00 for musicians in need. Partnering with Preservation Hall and Okayplayer, the clothing line is a symbol of hope and unity for thousands of New Orleans residents as the rebuilding begins. Genre crossover continues with a gospel/pedal steel record from The Campbell Brothers and the ultimate musical crossover record - King Britt Presents Sister Gertrude Morgan. The Benevento Russo duo's debut album introduces these two incredible musicians to the world. 

2006 - As the upheaval in the music business continues, the label moves to a mostly digital format. Abandoning the high(er) profile releases of the past, Ropeadope begins to sign unknown artists to the Ropeadope Digital label. DJ Logic's Zen Of Logic and Marco Benevento's Live At Tonic highlight the year's 'legacy' artists. 

2007 - The label moves to Philadelphia and releases 2 records a month, introducing new Philly hip-hop and jazz artists alongside eclectic electronic and rock artists. Physical releases include The Harlem Experiment featuring Taj Mahal, Olu Dara, James Hunter and more. 

2008 - The digital release schedule ramps up even more with releases from jazz and electronic artists from London to Montreal to Philly. Notable releases from Leo Genovese, Tim Collins, and Otis Grove are rounded out with a new genre - rock - with the release of Carlon's debut LP. 

2009 - Lost in the new music business shuffle, artists continue to seek out the label for distribution and support. New entries in jazz (Dred Scott Trio) , hip-hop (Black Landlord), and electronic music (Fatty Acid) are released alongside new artists in Bluegrass (Cabinet) and Rock (New Madrid Faults). The label presses on, like everyone else trying to make sense of the new landscape. 

2010 - Genres break wide open, and Ropeadope begins a more old school record label approach by nurturing new artists. Releases range in style and locale with world music, latin, folk, and soul from artists in Rome, Tokyo, Guatemala, and of course, Georgia. 

2011 - Ropeadope regulars Dred Scott, Greg Hester join the now famous Snarky Puppy with releases in 2011. The business is settling down, and the real work of building artists over time begins anew. Long time Ropeadope friend and producer Scotty Hard returns with the Brazilian Hip-Hop masterpiece Ekundayo. 

2012 - Snarky Puppy mastermind Michael League returns with a followup record, and launches the groundUP label in collaboration with Ropeadope. A whole new style emerges as groundUP features critically acclaimed records from around the world. The label focuses heavily on young talent - Jordan Hull and Cabinet build regional followings, perfecting their sound and landing spots on NPR as featured artists. The year ends with a bluegrass record from Cabinet and a new genre - pop - with the introduction of another NPR fave - The Henry Millers.Renew York and Renew Jersey tees are launched after Hurricane Sandy, once again providing money and hope for musicians and other residents of the hard hit areas. 

2013 - CEO Louis Marks takes the reins and leads the label into the new (old) music business. 

2014 - Ropeadope comes out swinging, starting the year with a Grammy for Snarky Puppy and Lalah Hathaway for their performance of 'Something'. The label lands 15 albums in the iTunes jazz and world charts, and continues the quest for recognition of real music with a staggering set of 45 releases from veteran artists and newcomers alike. Ropeadope launches Atlanta Records in collaboration with SoulandJazz.com, quickly lining up a roster of soulful artists from Atlanta and beyond. Reggie Pace's Jellowstone Records from Richmond Va joins the family and drops some heavy recordings from Pace Cadets, Butcher Brown, and Trio Of Justice. 

2015 - Marks' vision of a network of artist driven 'interdependent' record labels expands with the addition of Tribo Records, Ropeadope SUR, FNBeats Galore, and Denova Records. The revolution is in full swing. As the year comes to a close, Ropeadope has collectively released over 45 new records, each and every one authentic in spirit - an accurate reflection of the wave of new creation happening in the independent music business. 

2016 - Ropeadope lines up 36 releases for the year before the end of January. On February 16, the day after he won two Grammys with Kendrick Lamar, Terrace Martin announces his new label, Sounds Of Crenshaw, and his new release Velvet Portraits - as part of the Ropeadope family. The year ends with a total of 59 releases. 

2017 - Sometimes life moves VERY fast, and as we round the corner into Spring 2017 we are looking at over 60 new releases for the year. New labels include Paytone, Mobetta, and RSVP. Notable artists sign on to the new model - Nate Smith, Matthew Stevens, Maurice Brown, and the great Eddie Palmieri. Scarmabling to keep up and stay up, Ropeadope comes off the ropes with fierce determination. The model evolves, as described by CEO Louis Marks:

‘Our mission here at Ropeadope is to build a distributed collaborative organization - a network of artists with the persistent goal of each building their independent business and retaining full creative control of their work. We believe we are in a unique time in history, where the advent of the internet and the networking concepts that drive it, offer opportunities for a redistribution of power and self determination. We seek to break down the traditional vertical and hierarchical systems of the past by building a distributed network. 

As we progress, we have found the voices of our collaborative community reach further than just the music, and while consensus is not necessary in a distributed collaborative organization, many in the family and the company are bringing issues of social justice to the forefront, with a message of respecting history and the real leaders, while moving forward to a progressive, multicultural world. The outward message is one of unity, peace, and love - and of basic consideration for all life. We embrace this message and find it will be forever intertwined with this thing called Ropeadope. Our progressive vision of distributed collaborative network is a working model for human collaboration with equitable distribution according to each member’s intent and participation.’

Expect much more music, expect Ropeadope to continue without wavering, and join us on the path of collaboration over division.