Tecnobrega, literally “tacky techno,” is a mash-up of music genres and revenue models in northern Brazilian city of Belem.
Ronaldo Lemos, a professor at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, breaks it down in an excerpt of the digital music documentary Good Copy Bad Copy:
Tecnobrega is noteworthy for having created a new musical business model, one that has gotten rid entirely of record companies and radio stations. Tecnobrega artists take advantage of cheap available technology, often using personal computers as home studios. Composers freely allow the DJs or producers to copy the music and sell it on CDs that cost as little as $1.50 apiece.
The “pirates” become distributors, and the artists gain exposure (but usually zero royalties) through the distribution of their work to the public. The DJs work at huge festas de aparelhagem (sound system parties), which move from location to location, and they can turn unknown songs into instant hits. The shows can include smoke machines, laser displays and giant video screens. There are an estimated 4,000 such events per month, or more, in greater Belém.
Bruno Natal of crowdsourced concert service Queremos likens tecnobrega distribution to hip-hop mixtapes and dubplates:
The distribution of tecnobrega is similar to the hip-hop mixtape game in the U.S.. CDs are only sold in big, open-air markets; all copies are “pirated,” but getting music for free isn’t problem–it’s the solution. Selling mixtapes at the market is an artistic boon for the DJs, allowing them to increase their popularity and get more gigs.
To get more airplay, artists make special tracks praising radio stations and soundsystems. When you go to a concert, not only can you buy a copy of the gig as soon as it is over, but you can buy a copy beforehand, then give them your name and pay to have it shouted out during the show–the ultimate in customization.
Watch L.O.V.E. BANANA, a tecnobrega track by Joao Brasil and CSS singer Lovefoxxx: