Next time you are sitting at work bored and are wondering the best way to utilize that free high speed internet connection that your work is kindly providing – head over to Monotonik (http://www.monotonik.com). Monotonik is an mp3 label that releases exclusive ‘idm’-ish influenced music from around the world, for free, online. But be careful, once you hear all the good music that is on offer on this site, you may not be able to stop downloading and you better hope that your ever so friendly systems administrator isn’t logging your internet usage!
I was lucky enough to catch up with Simon Carless, from Monotonik who has given me the low-down on all things Mono;
‘Monotonik is a net.music.label that was formed in early 1996 under the name Mono. Originally, it was a Commodore Amiga-based music group, which released .MOD, tunes, but we expanded to start releasing MP3s in 1999. All of our releases are freely downloadable and distributable. We do this for fun. Music is great, and giving great music away for free is even better. Mono/Monotonik was pretty much started as my reaction to my friends in the Amiga ‘demo-scene’ who weren’t getting the exposure they deserved. It’s still pretty much run by myself, with help from a bunch of people with FTP space and suchlike . . We’ve changed focus a lot, from a multi-genre .MOD label, to a specifically ‘idm’-ish .MP3 label, and from releasing to only a very few BBS-downloaders to our current amount of downloads (over 250,000 this year already.) . . . . Anyone can submit material to Monotonik . . . and as much as possible we try to listen in detail to every single person who submits. Obviously, we do this in our spare time, and since we’ve been getting up to 50 submissions a month recently, we’ve been getting a little behind, but we still release from unsolicited submissions regularly – probably about a third to a half of the releases come that way. There’s definitely a thrill to ‘discovering’ people who haven’t got as much attention as they should, but often, lots of other people are discovering them at the same time, so we can’t really take any credit for their subsequent releases and ‘fame’ . . . . a number of those who are more well known now started in the .MOD scene, such as Bogdan Raczynski (Rephlex) or Lackluster (Merck), and so we ended up releasing things from them early on, before they started releasing CDs and vinyl. Since we don’t pay and don’t release physical product, we don’t expect artists to release tonnes of albums with us alone, but it works well, because they often give us stuff ahead of it being on their real-world releases, or have things which fit best with us and are still really unique, such as Lackluster’s “One-Offs EP” . . . . We decided in 1998 or so to split Mono (as it was called) to concentrate on particular genres of music as separate labels, like real record labels do. So just as Ninja Tune has Ntone (for the electronic stuff) and Big Dada (for the hiphop), we have Monotonik (for the idm + videogame-ish stuff), Mono211 (for the breakbeat-ish stuff), and even Mono-Rave-Ik (basically Subi’s label, for the oldskool rave action!) We think it works well, because people understand what they’re getting on each label.
There are also a growing number of Australian-based artists on Monotonik, notably from surgery Records and Aural Industries. Simon continues; ‘it started with Tim Koch and his background in the .MOD scene – he submitted to us a long time back, and we got to be friends. Since then, we’ve found that our tastes are quite similar, and a lot of the great-untapped artists on the Australian electronic scene (Thug, Sense, PBXO, Superscience) ended up releasing tracks through Monotonik’.
Like for many internet-based music projects the issue of royalties, licensing and copyright are becoming key issues. In the USA Congress has moved towards a policy of introducing licensing fees to reign in internet radio. ‘We pretty much run under the radar with regard to any concept of copyrights, royalties, and suchlike. We unofficially tell our artists that the ‘copyright’s for their songs continues to reside with them if they release them on Monotonik, since everyone is doing it for fun, anyhow. Perhaps this wouldn’t be the best approach if we were the biggest website ever with the most popular artists in the world, but for a niche site like ourselves – we think it works . . . . It’s going to be very difficult to do Internet radio – my own station that was hosted on live365 is now down, since I would have had to pay them to host it. It’s very, very disappointing – because it’s great to have a big choice of music to stream from online.
Simon finishes, ‘probably my favourite releases on Monotonik are – Sense’s “Bubble Blower”, Idmonster’s “The Force May By With You”, and Radix’s “Counting Stars”.
Keep an eye on Monotonik. For something as free as it is the quality is extremely high.