Lately I’ve been looking into netaudio and early netlabels and the culture that surrounded it. I’m having a lot of fun. Here are some thoughts and a few tracks…

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to techno. It’s new for me, because I usually have only heard downtempo and house before. But I’m liking this change, and have been using this time to research techno in the 00’s, mostly the free audio scene that connected listeners globally. Netlabels are fairly common today, with Bandcamp facilitating most of them, but back then they were more common for electronica releases. Creative Commons was also commonplace for them, meaning you could reproduce and alter the music netlabels put out in any way you pleased.

The first one I discovered was actually a website for DJ mixes that’s still around today: Mixotic. I find that compilations are how I discover music the most efficiently, and their mixes have done so much for me. I’m learning more about grouping artists by sound, too. What is dub techno versus minimal techno, for example. But it also opens up my eyes to the friendly world of DJ’ing in those times. The spirit of collaboration and sharing free music for the love of it.

With this, I’ve learned about other netlabels like the notorious Thinner, Stadtgruen, Realaudio, Corpid and more. Much of these netlabels survive on, but others aren’t so lucky and I’m having trouble recovering some lost files. It’s actually rather strange. When there’s no physical copy, the releases do have the curse of disappearing like water into the atmosphere.

It’s not too different, now, the culture of netlabels, but I have noticed that Bandcamp has made netaudio the secondary listening method, and physical media following suit. Streaming, naturally, is first. It’s impossible to tackle the giants of streaming audio with a swarm of free tracks. But that love for music isn’t lost, and at least Bandcamp allows you to donate on free tracks. Supporting musicians in this way is now more important than ever, as vinyl records turn out to be both inefficient and harmful for the environment. Will we see a return to CD? Probably not.

I think this reinforces my idea that music should be hosted in all sorts of places, and for free, as well. I admit that lurking on all of these old websites and forums makes me nostalgic for a time I never got to fully appreciate: the era of blogging and Myspace. I have this blog because it’s simply cool to blog! Anyway, below are some tracks I’ve found really good. Do you have a favorite netlabel or treasured netaudio? Please comment with it. I’d love to hear.

“Share My Wings”, Soleil, Soleil (2004).
“Bus (The Radio Dept. Cover”, Mont Ventoux feat. Sophie Rimheden.

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