This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Digital DiviDe
As the age of iPods, MP3s and downloading marches relentlessly onwards, what does
the future hold for the staple of drum & bass, vinyl, as more and more d&b imprints
take the fight entirely into the virtual world via the purely digital route? We talk to
some of the forward-thinking label players swapping wax for Internet wires...
In every revolution there are significant battles. And as the cold war against and seeing what the response would be like, with a view to release vinyl in
the way record labels have traditionally operated rages on in the outside the future. In terms of other labels taking the entirely digital route, this
world, from the trenches are leaping a small, yet ever increasing, army of was only a matter of time, taking into account music download culture and
independent digital-only d&b labels. As with any such recording media the ease of setting up and running a label in this fashion.”
evolution, the equation is certainly not a simple one. And now that the Alexander Meinhardt: “The digital release was the best option; simple, fast and
virtual tune has proved it actually has a market value as a sellable commod- independent. Nevertheless we wanted to go vinyl but never had a proper
ity, despite the proliferation of the illegal downloading and seeding sites distribution deal. Our goal is a mixture of both MP3 and vinyl releases.
that were supposedly ‘killing’ music, it would appear this particular new We believe digital and vinyl can co-exist.”
market strategy is only set to grow and grow. D-Func: “On a personal level I switched from playing vinyl to MP3s nearly
three years ago. I knew that this was a trend in the music though and not
The best way to measure this groundswell, naturally, is to head inside the just a personal decision. Digital is the only sound option at the moment
belly of the beast. Meet our panel: and also allows you to access a larger audience.”
Migu: “When we started in 2005, digital labels were not so prevailing.
Kenny Speers, aka Ken DMA, is one-third of Subfuzion, alongside Primary inspiration was when we discovered lots of producers exist who
Shufunk and Deli J, and takes responsibility for promotion of the label hadn’t got any publicity. We wanted to hit many people to promote our
and their event management. Subfuzion’s forthcoming product includes artists and releases. If the label works professionally and with determina-
DJ Panik, Static Movement, Evil Quest and Izah. tion, free digital releases can get to listeners or DJs so easily.”
Jonny Steward: “We’re going to release our first digital-only release, a remix
D-Func, a Barcelona-based Brit, heads up Binary Soul alongside UK co- EP which will feature techno remixes of tracks from our recent ‘Future
founder Jrumhand. Among planned future releases are Alien Kid, Scenic Without Past’ LP. We’ve chosen to release this digitally as I don’t really
& Advisory and Phat Playaz. “The motive is to release quality not quan- know enough about this genre to take the risk releasing vinyl. Plus, there’s
tity,” D-Func qualifies. not so much snobbery about digital-only releases [in techno].”
With a vinyl back catalogue starring SpectraSoul and Lynx, Cheltenham How much do you think d&b has changed, in the digital context of sell-
/ Gloucester-born label Deep Soul Music is about to dip its toes into ing and marketing records, since you first got involved in the game?
the digital-only waters. Specialising in deep and forward-thinking d&b, Alexander Meinhardt: “The internet changed it all; d&b was probably the first
for these purposes they are the voice of vinyl, if you will. Representing is music to fully profit as the scene spread like a virus all over the world.
Jonny Steward. Nowadays, with so many genres, tunes, artists, labels and crews it’s impos-
sible to advertise releases without the web.”
Alexander Meinhardt is brand officer for Trackdonalds, whose web op- Migu: “Marketing is much simpler and cheaper; you don’t need to pay
eration,, has been online since 2007, staffed by companies, you can do it yourself. Sales of vinyl are lower then a few years
Beatkonexion and Kuttin Edge. They have variously been producing, ago, but it is not digital labels’ fault. The whole business must be handled
DJing and promoting events from the early 1990s. more consciously. If I were manager of a vinyl label I would not offer MP3
versions of tracks released on vinyl.”
Flying the flag for mainland Europe is Migu, responsible for Black D-Func: “Drum & bass has changed massively over the years, from being a
Hoe Recordings with fellow DJ, Samulkow. From Hungary’s capital city small predominantly UK scene to truly international. I think the increase
Budapest, as artists they have shared bills with Tech Itch, Limewax and Ed in digital music has helped this, but it’s not the reason for it.”
Rush & Optical. When it comes to digital tunes, their label offers both Kenny Speers: “Digital labels are having an effect on the vinyl industry, as the
free and paid-for tracks. means are there for more people to access more music easier. You can’t
avoid it. But vinyl releases [on Subfuzion] are planned. The first, ‘Back
What lured you toward the digital switchover? Into Time’ by DJ Panik, accompanied by a track from Static Movement,
Kenny Speers: “Subfuzion was set up as a digital label because we felt this was a is due soon.”
more accessible way of exposing our material to an international audience
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