In an industry where artists often face lawsuits for sampling or remixing another musician's work, one Vancouver record label isn't condoning it — in fact, they're encouraging it.
Monstercat is a local record company that focuses on electronic dance music, and they're pioneering a new way of thinking.
In August, the three-year-old company published a manifesto that calls for copyright reform. They see the sampling of another artist's work as creative expression and celebration, not theft.
"We've seen so much stuff lately about people's issues with Soundcloud mixes and tracks being taken down," Monstercat co-founder and CEO Mike Darlington told The Huffington Post B.C. "There's lot of stuff out there about people interacting with other people's music and getting hit with all these massive repercussions when they weren't going out there and trying to negatively affect people — they saw it as a way of supporting the artist."
The Monstercat Manifesto
"Our way of thinking about how music should be treated is different than standard; especially in the major label world it is quite different," the Mississauga, Ont. native continues. "We thought we would put what we believe on a piece of paper and put it out there." The manifesto now hangs in their office.
Darlington, 25, and a group of his music producer friends created Monstercat three years ago in Waterloo, Ont.; the company moved to Vancouver in January. The collective, as he calls it, grew out of a need for these artists to support each other and get their music out there.
"Instead of each of them promoting themselves, they came together in a group effort and treated every new release as their own, even if it wasn't their own track," said Darlington, the only non-producer of the founding crew.
The Monstercat team
This community feel is largely what built the company into the massive digital player that it is today. While word on the street is that nobody pays for music anymore, Monstercat proves otherwise. Darlington predicts that its revenue, which comes from music sales, merchandise, streaming, advertising, and live shows, will reach $2.5 million this year.
Monstercat may still be considered grassroots on the mainstream music scene, but it is a trendsetter when it comes to EDM. The company prides itself on being a trusted source for high quality electronic music, and really fostering a sense of community with their followers.
"With the Internet there's so much information and music and art being thrown at you all the time, it's really difficult for the average person to filter though it all. So it made sense to me that we brand Monstercat as a trusted source and filter and place for people to find good music," said Darlington.
"We incorporated them [the listeners] into our marketing and promotion and kept that concept from the beginning to where we are now."
The company works with artists from all over the globe, but its emphasis on Canadian talent is prominent.
"We do have so much pride in being Canadian," Darlington said. "We work with a lot of local print and design companies, and it's something I really want to continue to incorporate into what we're doing. I want to find more artists in Canada ... We want to let people know there is a possible career in dance music and it's not limited to the Dutch and the Americans and the British."
On a hyper-local level, Monstercat hosts monthly parties at its studio space as a way to open their doors and share the music it loves with everyone — which, really, is the foundation of their whole business model.
"It all really fell into place," Darlington said of his company's success. "None if it was supposed to happen, it just did happen."
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