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Monstercat (formerly known as Monstercat Media) is a Canadian independent electronic dance music record label based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Founded in 2011 by Mike Darlington and Ari Paunonen, the label released music on a tri-weekly basis until 2018, when this was changed to four releases a week.[1]

Monstercat
Monstercat's official logo with wording.
Founded1 July 2011; 7 years ago (2011-07-01)
Founder
  • Mike Darlington, CEO
  • Ari Paunonen, COO
Genre
Country of originCanada
LocationVancouver, British Columbia
Official websitemonstercat.com
YouTube information
Years active2011–present (Uncaged)
2018–present (Instinct)
GenreMusic
Subscribers7.3 million (Uncaged)
400 thousand (Instinct)
Total views2.3 billion (Uncaged)
86.5 million (Instinct)
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg100,000 subscribers 2012 (Uncaged)
2018 (Instinct)
YouTube Gold Play Button 2.svg1,000,000 subscribers 2013 (Uncaged)
Updated 23 April 2019

The label is known for the 2016 release of the song "Alone" by American DJ Marshmello, which reached Platinum status in the United States and Canada in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Beginning (2011–2012)Edit

Monstercat Media was founded on 1 July 2011 by Mike Darlington and Ari Paunonen, two university students out of Waterloo, Ontario. The label's YouTube channel, which served as a medium to promote their friends and their music, was created the same day.[2][3] Today, the label signs artists on a single-track basis, allowing them to move between labels and brands without an exclusive contract.[4] Darlington and Paunonen were later responsible for the creation of the label's uniform compilation albums.[2]

The team moved to their current offices in Vancouver in 2012 after Darlington and Paunonen finished school.[5]

Building the label, first tour, and Marshmello (2013–2016)Edit

In July 2014, Monstercat surpassed one million record sales across the label.[3] When asked about the label model, Darlington said:

People don’t need record labels anymore. Artists can do everything on their own. So we either had to do it for them better or provide a platform and marketing tool they can’t find on their own. That’s where the community concept came for Monstercat. We created a brand that fans can use to discover music and [that] artists can use as a platform for getting their music out there.[3]

In August 2014, Monstercat published a manifesto calling for reform of copyright law. In it, they described their desire to allow musicians more freedom in sampling other musicians' recordings.[5][6]

In December 2014, Monstercat launched Monstercat FM as part of live-streaming service Twitch's start in music broadcasting.[7] Monstercat FM is a 24/7 radio station-like Twitch stream featuring a lot of Monstercat's releases from some of their history as a label. The launch event of the stream was a DJ set by Monstercat artist Stephen Walking. Monstercat FM was eventually added to YouTube and Microsoft-owned live-streaming website Mixer.

Since 2015, Monstercat has participated in multiple music festivals. One such festival is the Amsterdam Dance Event, which Billboard describes their 2015 show as "a three-hour mixer outing".[8]

In May 2016, Monstercat signed American producer Marshmello's single, "Alone". Its music video has amassed over 1.1 billion views combined across YouTube,[9] including a label record 156 million views on Monstercat's YouTube channel as of February 2019. These views contributed to the artist's $21 million year since the video's release.[9]

Partnerships, awards and evolution (2017–present)Edit

In June 2017, Monstercat announced a partnership with Psyonix to help promote the two-year anniversary of Rocket League with the release of Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 1, an 18-song album from various artists who had previously signed songs to Monstercat including Slushii, Aero Chord and Vicetone. The album was released on 5 July 2017.[10] Monstercat also announced their own TV channel, Monstercat TV, on the television platform Pluto TV the same month.[11][12]

In July 2017, Monstercat won DJ Mag's 'Best Breakthrough Label', competing against other labels such as Discwoman, Tuskegee Music, Perspectives Digital and Honey Soundsystem.[13]

In November 2017, Monstercat received the label's first certified platinum record for the 2016 song Alone by Marshmello. In an email towards Billboard magazine, Mike Darlington stated:

Working on Alone was an extremely unique experience for the team as the marketing efforts continued for over six months and pushed the boundaries of what we knew a general release strategy to be.

The combination of a great/catchy record, great viral music video, unique influencer marketing, amazing DSP support, and very dedicated digital and terrestrial radio campaigning pushed this record into the spotlight. I'm so grateful to have been a part of it all and am very proud of all the success Marshmello has had over the past couple of years.[14]

In December 2017, Monstercat was named one of the five best independent dance labels of 2017 by Billboard.[15]

On the week of 1 January 2018, Monstercat announced a split in branding into two distinct themes, "Uncaged" and "Instinct", citing the diversity of their library.[16] The change included a retirement of the tri-weekly release schedule in favour of a release schedule of four times a week and a podcast episode in-between.[17]

In another first for the label, 9 August saw a collaborative single with Sumerian Records. Called "Kneel Before Me", produced by Slander and Crankdat, and featuring Asking Alexandria, the single was praised across both the electronic and rock music industries.[18]

In September 2018, two weeks before Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 4 released, Gavin Johnson, Head of Gaming for Monstercat, spoke of the collaboration between the label and Psyonix.

I met Josh Watson (Esports Operations Manager of Psyonix) at one of our Monstercat gaming-driven events during E3 of 2016. Shortly after, Josh introduced me to their Audio Director Mike Ault as he had a vision for how he wanted to approach music in Rocket League which mirrored that of our ethos with Monstercat. During our first call, it was clear that we shared the same desire to build new platforms for exhibiting artists to be on and grow. The groundwork Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 1 begun immediately afterwards.[19]

Other partnershipsEdit

In 2019, Monstercat partnered with Dutch video game developer Soedesco to build the music for the latter's video game, Xenon Racer.[20] The game was released on 26 March.[21]

On 14 March 2019, Czech-based indie studio Beat Games released their first paid DLC song pack for their virtual reality rhythm game Beat Saber on Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4. The song pack was released as a partnership with Monstercat, titled as Monstercat Music Pack Vol. 1 (with three additional song packs being announced) and featured a collection of 10 tracks from the record label,[22] including songs from Aero Chord, Pegboard Nerds, Muzzy, Stonebank and Kayzo.[23] The song pack was released for $12.99 USD, (or $1.99 per individual track), with Monstercat offering a month of their Gold Subscription for free towards new subscribers.[24]

ArtistsEdit

Marshmello (left) and Pegboard Nerds (right) are two of the many artists Monstercat has supported.

Monstercat has supported prominent artists such as Krewella,[25][26] Gareth Emery,[27] Knife Party,[28] Modestep,[29] and Infected Mushroom.[30] Other producers with connections to the label include:

  • Ephixa: Debuting on the label as the first official artist with his song "Dubstep Killed Rock 'n' Roll" in mid-2011, Ephixa had left the label in late 2012, continuing to release music independently.[31] In a Reddit AMA, the Monstercat staff were questioned what happened to him, which they answered "Ephixa, as an artist, took some time off to focus on other projects and his personal life. However, word on the street is that he is back at producing and we are looking forward to hearing his new work".[32] In mid-2016, Ephixa returned to the label and has since continued to release music through Monstercat.[33]
  • Haywyre: Martin Vogt first released his song "Synergy" on Monstercat in 2013 when American electronic music artist Fractal recommended that Vogt should send his music to Monstercat's head of A&R as they might be interested in signing the song to the label.[34][35] Haywyre has since released two full-length albums through the label, Two Fold Pt. 1 in 2014 and Two Fold Pt. 2 in 2016.[36][37] His first album, "Two Fold Pt. 1", was placed as the 5th and 9th best album of 2014 by EDM Sauce and Your EDM respectively.[38][39]
  • Hellberg: A Swedish house producer from Stockholm, Jonathan Hellberg debuted on the label with his single "Stockholm". His prominent releases include "The Girl", featuring vocalist and actor Cozi Zuehlsdorff,[40] and "Synchronize", featuring New York singer Aaron Richards, the latter of which has received a music video on the label.[41]
  • Nitro Fun: Became the youngest artist signed to the label Monstercat when he made his debut with his 2013 remix of Televisor's "Old Skool", before really debuting to Monstercat with his first single, "New Game" (featured on 016 - Expedition). He released Checkpoint in a collaboration with Hyper Potions in 2016,[42] which was featured in the trailer for the video game Sonic Mania.[43][44]
  • Pegboard Nerds: First appearing on Monstercat in 2012 with their song "Gunpoint", Alexander Odden and Michael Parsberg have since released thirteen extended plays through the label including Guilty Pleasures and The Lost Tracks in 2013 and Nerds by Nature in 2017.[45][46][47] Their 2015 extended play "Pink Cloud" was released to help fund breast cancer research and charted at #9 on the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums and at #20 on the Billboard Heatseekers.[48][49][50]
  • Project 46: Thomas Shaw and Ryan Henderson, two friends who met via Skype, first joined the label in 2011 when Mike Darlington convinced the duo to release their music on Monstercat in an effort to diversify genres in the label, which at the time, the majority of the releases were dubstep.[51][52] The duo has since released two extended plays through the label, Continuum in 2013 and Summer Feels in 2016.[53][54]
  • Unlike Pluto: Debuting on the label with "Waiting For You",[55] Armond Arabshahi has released six singles with Monstercat, including "Everything Black", which has been praised by many outlets.[56] In 2017, Arabshahi left the label due to creative differences, as he was pursuing a different artistic direction at the time.[57]
  • Varien: Debuting as one of the first artists on the label under the alias 'Halo Nova', Varien has since released various albums and extended plays via the label, including Mirai Sekai (with 7 Minutes Dead) in 2014, The Ancient & Arcane in 2015 and My Prayers Have Become Ghosts in 2016.[58][59][60] In 2017, he retired the Varien alias, simply using 'Nick Kaelar' as his publishing name instead, though he later returned to using Varien as his alias.[61]

Current artistsEdit

  1. ^ alias of Jay Cosmic
  2. ^ formerly Grant Bowtie
  3. ^ formerly Slips & Slurs

DiscographyEdit

Main series compilationsEdit

UncagedEdit

InstinctEdit

  • Monstercat Instinct Vol. 1 (2018)[136]
  • Monstercat Instinct Vol. 2 (2018)[137]
  • Monstercat Instinct Vol. 3 (2019)[138]

Rocket League x Monstercat seriesEdit

  • Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 1 (2017)[19]
  • Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 2 (2018)[139]
  • Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 3 (2018)[140]
  • Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 4 (2018)[141]
  • Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 5 (2018)[142]

Other select compilationsEdit

Accolades and awardsEdit

Year Organization Recipient(s) Category Result
2017 DJ Mag[13] Monstercat Best breakthrough label Won
EDM Sauce[144] Best record label Won
Dancing Astronaut[145] Label Of The Year Won
Billboard[15] Best Independent Dance Label Contained
EDM Sauce[146] Call of the Wild Best Radio Show 2
2018 Billboard[147] Monstercat Best Independent Dance Label Contained

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