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BEST BREAKTHROUGH LABEL: MONSTERCAT

Who's afraid of the big bad bass?

Bass lovers, rejoice: Monstercat’s day has come. The innovative label reaches every corner of the internet, culling fans and creating communities in places where others do not venture… 

Nominees:

Discwoman

Tuskegee Music

Perspectives Digital 

Honey Soundsystem (HNYTRX) 

Vancouver-based Monstercat has continually shown a knack for innovation. Helmed by CEO Mike Darlington, the bass-loving label nurtures fans on more traditional platforms, like SoundCloud and Spotify, but has robust communities in areas other labels neglect. YouTube? Check. Reddit? Check. Twitch? Also, check. Granted, not every label sports an affinity to music that is already so closely aligned with niches like gaming, but Monstercat took a seed and decided to grow it.

These parallel investments in great music and communities where hyper-engaged fans already live (that other labels haven’t by and large tapped into), has been paying off, big time. In the past year alone, Monstercat launched an apparel line, started a channel with online entertainment outlet Pluto TV, hosted a showcase at ADE, and paired up with video game Rocket League to contribute to its OST (official soundtrack). This month, it has a branded stage at Belgium’s Tomorrowland. 

This is all quite a feat for an independent label that is still, by all rights, quite young – Monstercat was founded on YouTube in 2011. It’s also not entirely surprising when you take a look at its roster. Among the names they’ve released: Pegboard Nerds, Aero Chord, Snails, and Marshmello. Many of these names are built up by the label over time; some, Monstercat was able to break with a defining single. Overall, there’s a pretty great batting average.

Volume is also a big factor in Monstercat’s acceleration. The number of platforms its visible on demands a hefty amount of content, and Monstercat releases new singles three times a week and a new compilation every month.

With all these moving pieces, Darlington has hinted at additional physical expansion for Monstercat, including plans to partner with additional European promoters for more regular showcases. Considering all the announcements that have already come from the label this year, this proposal certainly isn’t out of reach. In fact, it feels more like an eventuality, one stepping stone out of many for a label that’s not only captured imaginations and attention, but is quickly setting the pace for what an indie label can achieve. In other words, take note. For Monstercat, this is just the beginning.

Want to catch the Best of North America DJs in action? BoNA tour dates include LA, Washington, Miami, San Francisco and New York. More info here.

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