We’re happy to bring you the August 2016 edition of our monthly mixtape series and, with it, a significant change in form.
Up to this point, we’ve always made use of SoundCloud to post our mixes. We’re longtime users and fans of the online audio platform and, for some things, remain so to this day. It’s always been a great way for independent musicians to get their music out there in front of a huge audience in an easy manner and we’ve discovered countless bands with it. A little while back, SoundCloud started dropping ads in-between songs when streaming which, while annoying, I totally get. They remain a relatively small company, based in Germany with only about 200 employees from what I understand and those employees need to get paid.
Back at the end of March though, Soundcloud debuted their Soundcloud Pro service, a pay streaming service seemingly created in an effort to compete with Spotify, Apple Music, and the like. And, you know, continue to pay their employees. Part of that fee vs. free bifurcation meant that some songs—usually more popular ones—were only partially available to the free SoundCloud users as 30 second “previews,” many long after having been posted by the artists themselves, much to most artists’ surprise and with none of the profits for this pay service going to the artists. You can read various articles and reddit posts that go into more detail on the subject, but suffice to say that SoundCloud went from something that was great for everyone to…well, the opposite.
Again, we get it—it’s a business; businesses need to have employees; employees need to be paid; businesses need to make money so they can give some of that money to employees. But, with those changes that restricted access to songs for both us and all other listeners and the questionable-at-best relationship to artists, who’ve not-so-arguably fueled the popularity of SoundCloud, we decided to step away from using the platform for our regular mixtapes. Plus, we’ve had a few minor but consistent gripes with this service not quite matching the needs of what we want to do (for one, if a song hasn’t been posted by an artist, we can’t share it and, for another, songs that are taken down after we post a mix obviously disappear from the mix forever, meaning many of our old 15-song playlists have far fewer than 15 songs these days).
So we’re giving something new a try this month—Mixcloud, a crowd-sourced streaming service used largely by podcasters, DJs, and Barack Obama. We first took note of the service when David Byrne sent a recent mix through using it. We figure, if it’s good enough for David Byrne, it’s good enough for us. We’re only testing the waters here, but we’re hoping this will really open things up for us, allowing us to post anything we have an audio file for (including any pre-release promos we’re given the go-ahead to share) and ideally giving the mixes a bit more longevity.
As a listener, your experience is going to differ depending on your country and their respective copyright laws. In the US, for instance, we can’t rewind because rewinding is somehow unfair, I guess, to artists? Point being, let us know what you think—if you like it, drop us a line; if you don’t like it, also drop us a line; if there’s something that you think would work even better for us—you guessed it—drop us a line.
In the meantime, enjoy this new batch of new sounds from France’s Faker featuring Rae Morris (a lovely track that we’ve wanted to bring you for months but remains unavailable in the US via SoundCloud); Brooklyn-by-way-of-Ecuador’s Maria Usbeck, who gives us the beautifully blissful song “Moai Y Yo”; the ESG-esque, radio-friendly project from Troop Beverly Hill’s own Jenny Lewis, Au Revoir Simone‘s Erika Forster, and the Like‘s Tennessee Thomas Nice as Fuck; Blood Orange who gives us an addictive new track featuring Empress Of; new (to us) Brooklyn band Bella Mare; Flock of Dimes, the solo project from Wye Oak‘s Jenn Wasner, who gives us a poppy number reminiscent of Everything But the Girl at its height; Brooklyn’s Sidney Royel Selby III (AKA Desiigner) who totally loves Pokémon Go; Los Angeles harpist Risa Rubin; DC electro R+B trio SHAED; longtime favorite Icelandic artist Sin Fang (who interviewed a few years back), who returns with a bizarrely beautiful new track featuring Sigur Rós‘ Jónsi; Melbourne’s Kllo; Júníus Meyvant (another Icelandic import—you can tell by all the accents); a bedroom recording project from Brooklyn’s Oliver Kalb (AKA Bellows), who’s part of the creative collective The Epoch (which you can read more about in our November interview with Eskimeaux); Oxford’s newemo trio TTNG (FKA This Town Needs Guns), who gives us some of today’s most intricate, hyper-melodic guitar work; and ending with a tranquil track from Sweden’s modestly named The Amazing.