My net.label Monotonik on hiatus – RIP (?) 1996-2009

monoendSo, it would appear to have come to ‘End Of An Era – Pt.II’ for my electronic music net.label Monotonik, which I’ve been running since 1996 in .MOD and .MP3 form. In that time, we’ve put out over 350 free-to-download releases, initially spanning all forms of electronic music, but settling down into what you might call idm.

There’s a lot to be proud of in our history, which started with the label being called Mono, then a split into two ‘sister labels’, Mono211 and Monotonik, and then a concentration on Monotonik for the last few years. For starters, there’s the fact that our discography has almost 2.5 million plays on Last.fm and the MP3 releases are fully documented on Discogs.com by fans and collectors.

And between the main site and the Archive.org collection, there’s been millions of downloads of our music over the past 13 years. (If you want to start somewhere, try Christopher Whaley’s ’10 Years Of Monotonik’ mix.)

[UPDATE: The entire Monotonik, Mono211, Mono catalog – including the .MP3s and .MODs converted to .MP3 – are now being uploaded to a YouTube channel and a SoundCloud page, making it even easier to listen to all the music. Also, Zach Bridier has added a Monotonik entry to his super-canonical Netlabels Archive with MP3 version of all releases and LOTS of rarities.]

While I’m not saying we wouldn’t do _something_ with Monotonik in the future, I’ve been building up a backlog of releases for much of this year, to little releasing effect. So I’ve decided to debut almost a year’s worth of great content – six releases – at once, and go on hiatus with the label. The releases we’re putting out now are:

– MTK214: Malty Media – ‘Buk Buk Buk EP’ – a New Zealand duo’s Orb-esque sample-strewn frippery.
– MTK215: Casimir’s Blake – ‘The Silence In Fragile Space’ – a UK artist’s full drifting album-length stellar odyssey.
– MTK216: Clark Vent – ‘Scene Sexshun’ – bleepy super-swift idm goodness from another pseudonym of Finnish artist Flutterspot.
– MTK217: Kuu – ‘Pixels EP’ – veteran Monotonik artist Substance returns with uptempo idm/breaks gorgeousness.
– MTK218: Dead Eros – ‘Bone Mountain’ – another stalwart Mtk releaser ends things out with spiky U.S. electronic goodness.
– MTK219: Mike Kidd – ‘Impermanence EP’ – nothing lasts forever, as this drum and melody-strewn debut exhibits gloriously enough.

We don’t intend to release anything else for the foreseeable future and are closed for demo submissions. And in case this really is the end, some things I’d like to highlight as particularly memorable or important to me over the years of running Mono:

– The early days of releasing .MODs. At that time, Mono was birthed out of the Amiga and PC demo-scenes, which I was active in as a musician from 1988 to 1996 or so, and the idea of releasing standalone ‘packaged’ music – without a demo or a music-disc alongside it – was a little bit odd.

But some of the early releases from Lackluster (under his Distance pseudonym) and the amazing Mortimer Twang still resonate with me the most, despite the primitive 4-track MIDI-like data + samples + primitive FX tech behind them. (The Mono box sets site, done by a fan, has MP3 versions of all of the early releases.)

– There’s been some interesting media crossovers, including the soundtrack to Tank Racer, a PlayStation and PC game that I was project lead on at Kuju Entertainment. (Less nepotism than ‘we don’t have much money for a soundtrack, uhh…’.) We also got invited to Ars Electronica in Austria, soundtracked the Webby-nominated (and still going) SpamRadio.com, and got music used in a multitude of neat places.

– Some of the amazing artists that we’ve helped to popularize along the way, and whose music I personally adore. I’ve already mentioned Lackluster, but other highlights include the amazing Grandma/Khonnor, the wonderfully gifted Bliss and S.T., the absolutely unique Vim!, and so many others, it beggars belief.

So why shut down a good thing? Well, there are some good reasons. Firstly, there’s the signal to noise ratio of people releasing music online. When we started out in 1996, .MP3s weren’t even widely used, thanks to bandwidth and CPU-related decoding issues. In 1999, we were some of the first people offering tracks, EPs and albums for free on MP3.

But context has changed. If you consider that on Archive.org’s netlabels section alone, I’ve set up more than 1300 online labels for people – let alone the masses of physical labels moving into digital and individual artists giving away music electronically – it’s difficult to stand out. This is especially true if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to promotion, which I don’t, due to my other interests.

And in the end, what’s the difference between releasing something for free on your own site, or via Monotonik? An implied rubber stamp and somewhat (but only somewhat) increased traffic, most likely. I started this label when MP3s weren’t even available online, and now we’ve got all the way to high-quality streaming music from any artist you can think of, via Last.fm and other sites.

The landscape has completely shifted. The concept of a virtual label still has some value, and if I had more time, I’d like to explore that further. But there’s too much noise and not enough signal, and this seems like a great time to acknowledge that and step back.

Finally, some thank you-s to people without which this wouldn’t have been possible. Many thanks to _all_ the artists, of course, but to Tommy Van Leeuwen, Scene.org and Archive.org for the hosting space, Ossi Boelex and Dudge for helping me keep up with release propagating via MySpace/Last.fm, etc, and everyone who has submitted or listened over the years. It’s been a blast.

64 thoughts on “My net.label Monotonik on hiatus – RIP (?) 1996-2009

  1. Ah, the joys of anonymous comments.

    Cheers for releasing stuff I’ve been involved with Simon. Having had a go at self-releasing things I’m well aware it can be a bit of a slog – at least if you want to get people to pay attention at all…

  2. Hi Simon,

    We were worried the Malty Media release was the straw that broke the camel’s back! Agree with the signal and noise problem; there’s too much of everything, really.

    Anyway, sincerest thanks for what you’ve done for me over the years. Having solo stuff released on Monotonik gave me a lot of confidence when I needed plenty (do still!) and I’m grateful for that.

    As for the label as a whole, you should be very proud with what you and your dark legions of bedroom producers have achieved. All the best.

    Stuart (Aquaboogie and Malty Media)

  3. Sad news. Monotonik was and is one of my favorite netlabels. Having said that I understand your personal reasons and wish you all the best on your projects. I hope that this is just a hiatus and not a R.I.P.
    Thank you for the music.

  4. Sad news about Monotonik… This label was partly the inspiration for setting up my own Section 27 Netlabel, having frequently downloaded Monotonik releases myself. The quality was always consistent.

    You will be missed.

  5. cheers mate!

    the scene did develop in the way that the labels aren’t needed anymore. i’ve been a member of the scene and avid mono fan in the days of BBS’s but life and other interests took over.

    btw you forgot to mention the mighty Muffler who’s tearing up the d’n’b scene with his music

    take care,
    argus/theralite

  6. Sad news indeed – thanks for the good times!

    I found monotonik maybe 6 years ago,and couldn’t believe what I’d found. At that time, the “implied rubber stamp” was fantastically useful – and I wouldn’t have known where to look for that kind of electronic/idm.

    The rubber stamp is very real, even now – i looked forward to seeing each new monotonik release. These days, they pop up in my feed reader from time to time (which has helped me keep the signal to noise ratio pretty tolerable). When I saw 6 releases at once, now, I was happy – and then realized i had to browse over to the site, to find out why.

    Long live monotonik!

  7. It’s sad to hear that Monotonik has ground to a halt. Thank you for the tremendous amount of hard work that you’ve put in over the years to keep the netlabel going.

    Here’s hoping that you might open for business in the future, but if not, that you still continue to enjoy CC netmusic.

    All the best,

    CTW

  8. Hi Simon,
    you are giving us a sad news about our beloved scene today, netaudio has lost yet another historical piece of it (after Camomille, Kikapu, etc u know).

    What I’d like to tell you is to keep the releases (and the list of them) online as long as you can. Keep the website up! It’s so sad when netlabel sites disappear for us, long time fans 🙁

    Anyway, good luck for your next projects 😉

    eldino
    netaudio fan since 2k2
    eldino.wordpress.com

  9. As a loyal leecher since the Miggy days the label will be sorely missed. All my collection is missing is most of the nomo releases and a couple of cover art pics for the now removed ‘copyright problematic’ tunes. If anyone has any clues on where I could find some of that, or needs anything else that used to be on mono/drfetid/mod soul brother that they can no longer source, please contact me at tzuyd at yahoo dot com dot au.

    Thanks again for everything over the 13 years (guess that is an unlucky number). Thanks especially for introducing me to Psilodump, my current #1 musical obsession since you stopped releasing modules!

  10. Sorry to hear about the hiatus, though it’s understandable. I’ve enjoyed following your releases over the last three and a half years since I first discovered the whole netlabel scene, and have checked you site regularly. Sinq’s “Passage” album is one of my favorite netlabel releases ever. So good. I’ve also loved stuff from Radix/Mosaik and Sleepy Town Manufacture. Thanks for making this great music available. Good luck in your future endeavors.

  11. This is sad news,but I fully understand that it is very time consuming to run a netlabel. I think that netlabels are relevant more than ever now. There so much material available these days that curators are needed to organise and filter the noise you are talking about. I hope that the hiatus won’t last too long (take all the time you need). Be sure to know that your netlabel had a very positive effect on my life and I thank you for all the great music released.

  12. sad to see mono close its doors, but i completly understand the motive, and have felt the same urge to do something similar with enough. settled with closing to demos more often and focusing on promoting the already accumulated releases and artist rooster instead of the usual constant expansion. free time is a bitch but there are always new places on the web to push some of your artists into. or venues/promoters to hook up with people.

    eitherway, thanks for all the inspiration and hard work you have done for the netaudio scene, plus all the great hidden gems in your back catalogue. well worth rediscovering now and again.

  13. Mono* has been a very bright star through the years. Most important for me is the great legacy, but also the role it had in building an entire wave of digital producers formerly demoscene musicians. Huge respect for all the effort and the patience you’ve had, running all Mono ventures. I still see this as a positive move as the massive void behind Monotonik must now be filled with new people and music to the same high standard. In a way the scene should evolve to tackle the change.

  14. While I totally understand your reasons, it’s still a pity, of course. Always followed your releases for as long as I knew Monotonik (which was around 2002, I think) and still feel honored to have put out that EP of mine. Thanks for the hard work and being a great guy!

  15. much respect simon. 13 years on the leading ball is no peanut butter at all.

    your decision hasn’t surprised me… remember this?: “To be honest, I think my netlabel experience has run into a little arrested development – not that there’s not insane amounts of good music out there, but a lot of my netlabel points of reference seem to have peaked somewhere around 2004-2005,”

    that was april 2008, published by the 29th op3n mixtape…

    http://www.phlow.es/mp3-descargar-libre/electronic/947-op3n029-simon-carless-h0l-monotoniks-oddly-retro-age-of-netlabel-idm-mix-2

    i totally agree about the fading concept behind the netlabel essence, i actually just wrote about it and think some other big names will cease soon. difference boundaries between labels and netlabels are being erased and both tend to take equal movements on distributing and promoting artists and music. there’s so much going on out there so competence is too hard to handle without full dedication.

    thank you very much for all the amount of astonishing music you’ve made us discover and enjoy. hat’s off.

  16. Sad to hear about this, but understandable. You’ve been an inherent part of my life since i discovered you on a local bbs up to when you released my music.
    best of luck and long live mono.

  17. let me just take a moment to say a big THANK YOU for all your hard work on monotonik. mtk, along with thinner, were largely responsible for starting what has become a nearly uncontrollable obsession with netaudio and cc music (and thats a good thing!). i have hugely enjoyed finding all kinds of great music, as well as freaking out friends and family with my increasingly bizarre musical tastes.
    THANKS for exposing me to so many great artists who i still regularly listen to!

  18. you made me, and im sad to see you go. was still hoping, every once in a while, to release an ep, or a truly memorable single track on you. but now that its gone.. .. now there’s nothing left.

  19. I agree with a couple of other posters that the fact that there’s so much out there means that netlabels are needed as much as ever, or even more, to filter the good stuff, and although there are many netlabels there are very few with Monotonik’s track record of putting out great music. From personal experience labels with a reputation as good as this can also really give a vital boost to an artist’s development and I’m really grateful to the label for giving me that opportunity. Just as important is all the great stuff I’ve discovered through Monotonik. I understand the reasons behind the decision, but it’s sad news and I really hope the label will be back eventually.

  20. Hi Simon,

    You’ve kept my interest in new music alive and gave it a new direction.
    When I discovered Monotonik, I believed very much in the concept, even as a listener. Because from experience, I know that I would want to listen to a production before I buy. But why listen? Right: to have a good time! This has been a good time indeed. And later I indeed bought some of the artist’s commercial products. It has always been exciting.

    Many thanks for everything you offered with Monotonik,
    and I hope to hear more of it in the future.

    Cuc.

  21. Simon,

    It’s been a pleasure helping maintain the Monotonik catalogue on Last.Fm (I’ll get these releases up this week too).

    As with Cuc, I’ve discovered so much amazing new music.

    All the best for the future.

    I’ll be here to help when you’re back from your “hiatus”!

    Dudge

  22. Mono211/Monotonik always meant looking forward to the next release. And thanks to the absence of monetary barriers, the pleasure of openly sharing that experience with others.

    Mono211 took the lead when it moved from modules to mp3s. Maybe the closure of monotonik will bring about a realization that there is so much noise out there not worth contributing to. This aspect is certainly not contained to music, however.

    Thanks for all those years.

  23. It feels like a loss of a grandaddy: why else do you think netwaves ever started with an episode about Monotonik? Listen again.
    Thanks for the beautiful moments and hopefully we will see the fenix rise again …

  24. I’ve been to monotonik so many times to stock up on music, or to rediscover the old .mod tunes I was listening to way back when. Very sorry indeed to see the label close down, but good work keeping it running all these years!

  25. Simon, I’m sad to see this happen, but I’m glad at least that I can be part of the release list. 🙂 Thanks for sticking it out this long, Mono’s had a fantastic run. Good luck in all your future endeavours!

  26. Thanks for the great mono* crops, Simon. Sustained me through hard times, and will do for years to come.

  27. Wow.. What bad news.. I really enjoyed over the last few years downloading some of the great Releases. And now it is all over? Can’t be, world is cruel today 🙁

    Anyway, you did great work and it was always an enoyment to download and listen to that great music.

    Good luck in the Future and perhaps you came back in the future perhaps 🙂 Would be a great thing 🙂

    Greatest Respect and good luck for your way in the Future 🙂

    SaphirJD

  28. Thanks man, I’ve been enjoying the Mono goodness for a fair few years now (ten or so?) and even now finding little nuggets of joy amongst the back catalogue… good luck in whatever you plan to do now and I’m sure I won’t be alone when I say that maybe a “Best Of” project wouldn’t go astray! Maybe as a last hurrah! Otherwise, sincerest thanks!

  29. Sad news. Monotonik will surely be missed. I never got to do the special Monotonik netBloc release that I had long been thinking about doing. I could do it anyway, but it surely wouldn’t be the same.

    Good luck to you in your future endeavors, Simon!

    Peace
    Mike Gregoire
    Founder/Curator blocSonic.com

  30. NO! this is indeed sad news. much respect to you though for ALL of your hard word and dedication to the netaudio biz. monotonik may be gone, but it will not be forgotten.

    clayton

  31. Damn. I guess I’d just like to emphasize, without wallowing in the irony, that a BIG part of what mono[^ ]* meant to me was relief from that s/n ratio issue… it’s precisely when life is at it’s most hectic that you have the least time for sifting through stuff for the true medicine, and your rubber stamp never missed it’s mark. Not trying to make you feel bad, totally understandable, just saying thanks for what might have been more of the label’s real contribution (in recent years) than you realize. Hopefully the rubber stamp of joy will find it’s way into equally able hands. Thank you so very, very much.

  32. AAAAAGH! End of an Era! The flashbacks! 😉

    It was fun though. I remember you first telling me the plan for mono somewhere in deepest suburbia and me thinking “Sounds mad, but no other bugger is releasing my music, so what the hey.” Or something like that. 😉

  33. Thanks for the last 13 years, Mono* has been the first netlabel added to my bookmarks list and thus the longest one there.

    As with a few others, netlabels have been my signal-to-noise filter. That there is so much out there, and that it is so easy to contribute it to the internet gives these things a different kind of value. Understandably in running one it takes up a lot of time, but it is/was all appreciated nonetheless.

  34. hi, Simon!
    keep up anyway/sort you like the clean job.
    thanx & viva real precious monotonik!

    “near blan/ck a-ting,
    blur purr, snowy ting,
    it be flourishing”

    best!

  35. As others allready have pointed out I agree Mono in the last years was a beacon in the sea of noise so this is sad news.
    Thanks for all the hard work over the years Simon. Best wishes to you with whatever you may do in the future. 🙂

  36. Really hoping this is not a permanent hiatus, but I guess all good things must come to an end.

    Thanks for introducing me to all those great tunes.

  37. “it’s difficult to stand out”. Funny(ish). After not checking out Monotonik for a long time I’ve just come back to find you wrapping things up. Thank you so much for hooking me up to some amazing music. Sorry to see you go.
    Now I’m off to plunder the mono* archive @ archive.org.
    Thx again.

    h!ggs

  38. Sorry to see you go, you’ve introduced us to a lot of stunning music over the years. Rather than get lost in the noise, Monotonik was/is a mark of quality. When there’s so much music available it’s good to have someone you trust drawing your attention to the good stuff.
    Good luck with your future projects. I hope you know how much this one meant to all of us.

    All the best,

    Dave Milligan
    Sitting Target Music / Penguin Party

  39. Hey, thanks for all the fish!! Monotonik has been my go-to for quality electronic listening for years now, and will continue to be even without releases forthcoming. Without a doubt! Long live mtk!

  40. without wanting to get deeper in how mono started things and went on to pioneer out on the netlabel-side of things, there’s something i want to say and what it is is that i really enjoyed being part of it. especially when it came to the time when mono was still releasing mods. i still wish times were the same as it was back then when dreamfish, twilight and even you, – h0l of axi$ – were putting out marvellous mods, but you can’t turn back the time, eh. (technically you could, but you’d have to seek for the scene that would appreciate it!)
    anyway, thanks for all that, love you to pieces for the things you did, simon and the gang. 🙂

  41. Wow, only just caught this! All good things come to an end I suppose, well I say end, I’m sure the random fans the Mono collective have will continue to drive it into the following years 🙂

    Simon, I think you can safely say, job well done. Big shouts going to all involved, was an exciting time.

    Maybe we should all install WinUAE or fire up the old Amigas to write on last pro-tracker mod 😉

    Laters..

    h0ffman (a.f.k.a dREAMfISH!)

  42. Thank you. Sinq, Eleksi Eeben, Pliant, ilkae, Northbound (I think they’re all from here)….I found this site around 2001 or 2002. At least keep the site up and running for as long as you can. )))fan from N.Y.C.

  43. I have to let you know, MODs have had a huge
    effect on my life. I started deejaying because of
    being immersed in MOD culture. Of these years, the
    constant thing I return to is monotonik. I refer
    people all the time to the website and its releases
    for a “real” take on the “lofi” sound that is only
    now gaining nostalgic appeal for a mainstream
    audience.

    That said, a hiatus is warranted for all the many
    years of putting out so much quality work. Take a
    step back and have a drink on me. However, know that
    this sound is more important now more than ever, to
    a number of ears. If I ever wrote a book on ambient or chilled
    out music it would be absolutely insane to not include
    at least 5 chapters devoted to the mono output alone.

    Sleep, Relax, but never die.

    <3,
    &rew

  44. Simon, The Netlabel Hero!
    Es una triste noticia y ojalá sea sólo una pausa lo de Monotonik, estaremos atentos. En Latino América fuimos muchos los que aprendimos de este Netlabel impresionante tanto en el trabajo sistemático de publicaciones de calidad, como también en el sentido de avanzada en el uso de tecnología al servicio del buen arte, la buena música.
    Cada publicación está llena de buen gusto y coherencia en la curatoría, si es que se le puede llamar así.
    Un gran trabajo en verdad que, en lo personal, ha marcado mi preferencia estética que sin duda le debe mucho a Simon y los músicos del sello.
    Keep in contact Simon. We are waiting for your news!

    Claudio / Usted No! / Downtempo & Jazzy Beats / http://www.001netlabel.com

    Santiago de Chile.

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