Monotonik: the re-distribution (& musings on platforms)


[EDIT: Just so you’re aware, the Netlabel Archive crew ended up swooping in and putting ALL Mono/Monotonik releases onto YouTube and the Internet Archive – amazing work! So I didn’t have to do it all myself!]

So, firstly, the announcement – if you haven’t spotted it already on my social media feeds.

I’ve just kicked off a multi-year project (!) to resurface _all_ of the music ever released on Monotonik (aka Mono/Mono211), the free electronica net.label that I ran from 1996 to 2009, on modern distribution platforms.

What I mean by ‘modern distribution platforms’ is a brand new YouTube channel (streaming) and a SoundCloud page (streaming/downloadable), making it even easier to listen to all the music.

Uploads are going up regularly – about 30+ so far, all early MP3 releases. But will take a VERY long time – possibly a year or two – to complete due to the massive number of releases.

BTW, if you just want to try a few of the releases to get an idea of what we were releasing, then Sense’s ‘Bubble Blower‘ (dat Wonka sample!), Radix’s ‘Counting Stars‘ & Lackluster’s ‘Bothersome (Mother Mix)‘ are a good starting point for the dreaminess.

I’ve already talked at length – both in the goodbye post and elsewhere on this site – about what Monotonik meant to me. Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting too nostalgic in my (middle) age. But I think not – people care about the label too, and I’ve been getting good feedback on making the music more easily available again.

Talking of music and Monotonik, here’s a secret I semi-blurted out already. I got excited about releasing music again, and was _very_ close to starting a new version of the label up again, under the name MonoTwoNik, a few months ago. But it didn’t work out :/

I know, some of you are a bit sad. For MonoTwoNik, I even had some brand new releases lined up from Idmonster and others. The label was going to be a bit more of a platform for both official releases and lots of albums from ‘friends’, with an interesting payment/revenue share model, too. But sadly it wasn’t to be, after our initial partner dropped us & then things got mired in complexity. Oh well.

Anyway, you might be saying re: the original Monotonik releases, why bother putting all these releases up there? Surely they’re all available already on the collection or (for the .MODs) on Well, yes, that’s true. But you’ll need to know exactly what you’re looking for already. If you’re looking to randomly come across the tunes, then these locations fall down. The MP3s are there, but the discovery isn’t.

The issue is compounded, in the case of the .MODs/.XMs, because they’re a weird music  file format that plays in VLC but not in a lot of common music players! And many of the files are in ZIPs/LHAs and come with weird text. And why would you know any of this anyhow, if you just want to listen to nice chillout/idm electronic music & weren’t paying attention 15+ years ago?

Luckily re: the .MODs/.XMs, I’ve been chatting to Zach Bridier, an oldskool Monotonik fan. He’s been doing an amazing job of both getting me to dig out back-catalog gems (yes, the entire catalog of No’Mo’, Mono’s sekrit bootleg rivals, is now up on in various weird formats) & he’s preparing great quality .MOD => .MP3 conversions. I’ll be uploading these conversions to the new archives soonish – and almost none of them are available in .MP3 form online right now, so that’s super exciting!

And then for the MP3s, quite a few of them made it onto YouTube via fans or the original artists. But it’s by no means a comprehensive set of releases, and there’s a lot of really good material not on YT or Soundcloud yet. Bottom line: in the same way it’s difficult to sell a lot of PC games unless you’re on Steam, you can’t get listened to if your music isn’t available where people search for it. And increasingly – for free music – that’s places like I’m now putting the Monotonik releases.

Incidentally, I’m so happy that Brewster Kahle and the folks allowed me to set up the Netlabels Archive way back in the day, and operate it as a mirror for so many online music labels. It really saved a lot of ‘Internet-native’ music that would have disappeared in the mid-2000s otherwise, because the Wayback Machine and other auto-archiving sites didn’t have the capacity to store MP3s. Heck, the fact there’s even a Netlabel Day now makes me super-happy.

Anyhow, this all underscores the key point, which is this. Whatever digital work you do (audio/video/other), you should always upload a mirror copy to the Internet Archive. This makes sure it’s still around after the continents shift, financial models change, things get shut down, and/or weird rights issues are enforced.

But also put your work in places (YouTube, Soundcloud, others!) that people search, and listen, and use recommendation algorithms to get turned onto your work. Having been involved in the GDC YouTube channel – which is already generating almost as many video views as GDC Vault itself, despite only being open for less than a year, I can tell you that I regret not being more aggressive with mirroring videos to YT earlier. You get different audiences on different services, and discovery helps new people get introduced to your work.

That’s why I’m going to be uploading a couple of thousand (!) pieces of music to YouTube and Soundcloud – with the very useful TunesToTube tool – over the next few months/coupla years. You should subscribe/follow to take the musical journey with me 😛 And who knows, after it’s all done, if we’ve built up a following, maybe it could be time to start putting out music again? (One can only dream.)


5 thoughts on “Monotonik: the re-distribution (& musings on platforms)”

  1. Hey Bart – I think Spotify is a bit more of a pain because there’s no simple user upload for free – as far as I know. (Also it’s not linked in with the TunesToTube site I’m using.) I was going to do distribution to all the pay/streaming services with Monotwonik, but that was one of the complicated factors – need an LLC, etc.

  2. I wonder what it would take to wire up one of the javascript players. I always felt like one of the coolest parts of mod music was the accessibility. Not everyone will be interested, but it seems one of the more fascinating aspects of the medium.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *