New Music Distribution Service

New Music Distribution Service (or NMDS) was a non-profit record distributor based in New York City. It was founded in 1972 by Carla Bley and Michael Mantler[1] as a means of distributing artist produced recordings of, primarily, experimental contemporary music. It was a program of the Jazz Composer's Orchestra Association (JCOA).[2] The NMDS began by distributing recordings released by many different independent labels and artists, including Nodlew (Weldon Irvine's label), Jahari (Richard Dunbar's label), Gibex (Michael William Gilbert's label), Philip Glass's Chatham Square label, and many others. Several international labels such as Incus and ECM were also included in their catalogs. The biggest selling album in NMDS history was the ECM release of Return to Forever (Chick Corea album), which strained the seams at the service and led to ECM's first US major distribution deal.[3]

The service maintained a philosophy of keeping all labels in stock at all times. Carla Bley remembered being rejected by the gatekeepers at traditional record companies and vowed that NMDS would be non-judgemental for the artists.[3]

In 1984, the NMDS was awarded a $10,000 grant by the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.[4]

Due the long illness of a manager, and the resultant failure to pay New York state taxes, NMDS suspended operations in 1990.[5]


  1. Kozinn, Allan (Jun 12, 1990). "NY Times: New-Music Distributor Is Closing". The New York Times. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
  2. "Perfect Sound Forever: Michael Mantler interview". September 2005. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
  3. Seibert, Fred. "My mentors: Michael Mantler".
  4. "$10,000 Grant to New Music Service", Billboard Magazine, p. 23, Dec 1, 1984, retrieved July 5, 2010
  5. "On Her Own: Carla Bley; 6. The New Music Distribution Service". July 1, 2003. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
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