Has Music with a Twist unwound?

Back in 2006, Sony made a lot of noise about launching a label featuring gay artists. Music With a Twist, as the venture was called, managed to release a soundtrack to the television series The L Word and a compilation, Revolutions. Then … nothing.

A visit to label’s web site finds it gutted, and a Jan. 24, 2008 article in the Falls Church News-Press about signee Kirsten Price hints at the label’s fate. Price regained rights to an album she recorded for the label after Rick Rubin was brought in to head Columbia Records, Music with a Twist’s parent company. Rubin, I guess, was not impressed. Two Myspace pages — one for the label, another for the compilation — are still up, but no one has logged into either profile since October 2007. The darkened out layout gives a definite shuttered vibe.

Labels are all about the big launch, but when something goes under, it’s never a headline. No one has outright announced the closing of Music with a Twist, but a series of dead web sites and an artist dropped before an album release indicates the obvious. The Gossip, perhaps the label’s biggest score, looks like they’re still on track to release a new album with the band’s previous label, Kill Rock Stars, still in the picture.

(The New York Times profiled Rubin, giving his nod of approval to the Gossip but passing on someone else.)

I voiced my skepticism about the label’s somewhat muddled directive. Here’s how the press release announcing the label’s launch put it:

The TWIST roster will feature LGBT artists who have mass appeal and hit potential across all musical genres. Also planned for the TWIST imprint is a series of branded compilations geared toward the LGBT audience, as well as music fans everywhere. These compilations will feature hit songs by established artists that have been embraced by LGBT audiences, as well as tracks from emerging gay artists.

Ambitious, but unfocused. It’s hard enough to find gay artists who don’t suck. (Get your head out of the gutter.) To market gay content to both gay and straight audiences? I don’t think the social forces are aligned to turn that into a money-making endeavor.

I didn’t really start investigating the fate of Music with a Twist till I wondered what was happening with Jonathan Mendelsohn, one of the few artists who contributed something I liked to the Revolutions compilation. Mendelsohn has a very minimal Myspace presence, and the "Type of Label" field used to say "major". Now it says "none". There are no blog entries, and the biography section is empty.

Whatever is happening with Music with a Twist, I hope Mendelsohn isn’t too adversely affected by it. I was actually looking forward to hearing more from him.