The mood is vibrant yet a settle somber fills the air. Every Sunday night at 30 West 4th Street, singers in the greater NYC area gather to share the universal language of music. Accompanied by a live band, distant background singers, and legendary host Ron Grant, performer’s cover their favorite songs by mainstream artists while others premier their original work. However, this isn't your ordinary night at The Village Underground. With the recent tragedies of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, many are mourning while others find creative ways of seeking peace.
To help ring out the official release of their brand new mobile music streaming program, Nokia called in the aid of legendary DJ and producer Sasha to ensure their launch party went off with a bang. At Hyde Beach, the cozy poolside lounge of Miami's luxe SLS Hotel on Collins Avenue, the dance music titan provided sultry beats and his signature dose of groovy basslines to the attendees, which included some of Miami's most affluent industry figures and socialites alike. Even celebrity rapper and fasion icon, Trina made it out to dance to Sasha's exclusive set for Nokia Music. The program, which allows Nokia Lumia smartphones users to discover music via a library of over 150 playlists, is now available to the public.
Nokia has announced the launch of its free music streaming service Nokia Music in the USA - a free mobile experience providing consumers with a simple and delightful way to discover and enjoy music. Available for exclusively for all Lumia handsets, Nokia Music will give users access to over 150 playlists spanning a myriad of genres, as well as the ability to create custom playlists that processes your activity to provide music based on your preferences and tastes.No WiFi? No problem. You can download your playlists and listen to them offline if you don’t have an Internet connection.
Tell us a bit about Grooveshark and how it differs from other music sites? While we started and have grown as a music search engine, we are focused on being a platform for artists and users. We believe that the consumer is moving towards paying for experience rather than product so we are doing everything we can to empower artists to find and build new fans to drive them to a touring experience. We are seeing DIY artists blowing up on YouTube and other online channels yet no music service has quite focused on that. We want to be the standard for building plays and fans.
What was the inspiration behind your idea for Grooveshark? I drove by a music store that had a sign outside that said "Buy-sell-trade" and I was inspired to get into the music business as opposed to try and build a career as an artist. Isn't it ironic that here I am looking to help thousands of artists build their careers by leveraging the democratizing effects of the internet. We definitely live in quite the times.
How did you come up with the name? My co-founder Josh would code name his development projects by favorite color and animal. My favorite color is red and animal is shark because they have to keep moving to stay alive and are fierce. That best describes my personality so it became project 'red shark.' Then we liked the shark so we tried different music words other than red like mp3shark, musicshark, songshark, and finally Grooveshark stuck and we loved it. Our designer at the time then made the fin logo and we were in business!
Quiet Company, the company's flagship band, has had tremendous success. How exactly has Grooveshark helped to launch their career? We found them at a showcase in Austin. They had great songwriting, great live performance, great presence, and they were a great group of motivated guys so we decided to test them by giving them radio 'spins' on Grooveshark. In other words, we put them in front of users that had listened to similar sounding artists. They performed amazingly in these tests (better than 10 other bands we did similar tests on). Over the next year and a half we promoted them and their album/singles and from 0 plays and 0 fans on Grooveshark and a few thousand plays on YouTube, we got them to 1.5M video views on Youtube and now over 75,000 plays per month and 27,000 listeners per month on Grooveshark sustained now. We just started their tour and have sold out 14 dates already. We've proven that we can take a band from nothing to a well-established online presence followed by a monetizable tour at our relatively small scale. That is the formula in the new music business.
What is your vision for the future regarding music and Grooveshark? We want to build an ad supported artist platform business to a top 10 website (roughly 1 billion monthly users). Realistically, on web advertising you can earn $3-4 per user per year (Facebook does $4.30/user per year) so at that scale it is possible to do $3 - $4 billion per year, 60% of which would go to content partners based on industry standard revenue shares so that is roughly $1.8 - $2.4 billion/year to content owners at scale. Subscription is also on top of that although it is harder to ascertain those numbers simply because the market for people who are willing to subscribe is sub 20 million users. I'd rather build a $4 billion/year ad business than a $200 million/year subscription business. On top of that, we are looking at taking a percentage off of artists' revenues based on providing a promotions platform. We are looking at signing acts that can grow to move 100k, 250k, 500k, 1M fans into venues at $10 - $100 ticket prices. That has the potential to grow into another $1Bn/year business for us and our partners. In the coming years the industry revenues will be based on ads, tours, merch, product deals, and some subscription.
Do you have any projects or updates on deck? Lot's of product updates are coming in Q4. We're redesigning Grooveshark from the ground up and I'm thrilled so far with the progress. More on this soon.
DJ Rascal is not your average DJ. The Miami-based artist started on the music scene at the ripe age of 15, performing in some of the city's hottest venues, including LIV, Mynt, and Arkadia. He spent his early career spinning with some of the greats - Steve Aoki, Martin Solveig, and Miike Snow. Starting off in a school jazz band, playing piano and bass guitar, he quickly learned that his passion lay in DJing and quickly started booking gigs at clubs at a young age. Now at the age of 23, Rascal has announced that he will be releasing his first EP. Joonbug chats with the young superstar about his upcoming EP, his craziest moments in the club, and what he likes to do when he's not spinning.
What can we expect on your new album and what was the inspiration behind it?
I've been working on it for quite some time now. I decided to work on it because my entire life I've been involved in music, from being in a school band, then graduating to a jazz band in school, and then exploring with DJing once I got into high school; and now that's all I've been doing. Having the opportunity to open up and close for such big DJs in Miami, I would just sit behind them once I finished with my set and watch them play their own original music and the reaction they got - I thought, man, I could do this. The music is good, it's crazy, but it's nothing that I can't do. I know how to play instruments, so I decided to go home at the time and I started practicing again and brushing up on my music notes and how to work with melodies. I've created over 35 songs and out of those I've chosen a good 5-7 songs that I'm finalizing now. I am really, really hard on myself. I compare it to the best of what's out right now and if it's not as good or better, I start over or delete it. In order to be one of the best, you have to compare yourself to the best. I bring people to my studio and show them what I'm working on and listen to their feedback. But so far, with the 5-7 songs I've chosen, everyone has given really positive feedback.
Do you have a title for the album yet?
I had a title but I'm not 100% sure I'm going to use it, so as of right now, no, I don't have a title.
Do you have any favorite tracks off the album?
That's so funny you say that. It's funny because whenever someone comes to listen they'll be like, "Oh I like this song, but this is my favorite song." [But] I'm attached to every song in a different way. Each song has a different meaning behind it, whether it's the reason I started working on it, or the melody. Overall I'm happy with how [the album] is coming out.
You've been DJing since you were 14 years old. Do you think that gives you an advantage in the industry?
I wouldn't say it's an advantage because everyone's different and talented in their own way. Performance-wise, it would give me a little bit more room to get more creative. Instead of just playing two or three songs at the same time, I go out and study different DJs and see what they can do and what I can't do. I'll come back in my studio and sit here for hours and just practice and practice. Just so I can be as good as what's out there - some people might say I'm amazing and some might think I suck. But overall, I've gotten far for being so young, so I just keep working to better myself.
What do you like about the scene in Miami?
I love everything about the Miami scene. It's different from everything, even other parts of Florida. It's totally different because I grew up in bottle service clubs in Miami and I've been successful because I cater to the crowds, but at the same time, I don't lose my edge. I play what they want to hear but I play what I think is good and what I want to hear. So it's not very repetitive - I am always testing new music and sometimes people give me the craziest faces, like "what the f is this kid playing?" but that's my job as a DJ - to put out new music. I get that reaction and sometimes I get the best reaction, when songs that people hate turn into songs people love and then a month later, that song is on the radio. It's just that risk that a DJ is supposed to take. I'm happy to say that I've stuck to it and played music that no one has heard yet.
Would you ever consider leaving Miami?
Yea, I leave Miami once every week. [laughs]
Permanently, I mean?
I'm not sure, because my studio is out here in Miami. I travel a lot and work a lot and there's so much more out there. Who knows? I take everything day by day. If there's a huge opportunity for me out there one day and I feel that it's right, then I might jump on it. Maybe I'll move to Thailand and live in a jungle!
What's it like to work with some of the biggest DJs out there?
It's very nerve-wracking. The first time I ever got a big opportunity was when I opened up for Steve Aoki. It was just weird how it happened - I am the type of person who always just asks questions because the answer is always going to be no if you don't ask. So I was at a club where he was playing and afterwards I asked if I could open up for him. And I just waited and waited, for hours, and then the day of the show they got back to me and said yes, you can open for him and close. I was so excited and so nervous, I kept practicing and practicing. To this day, it's still probably one of the funnest sets I've had because I was so nervous and trying to do my best. And to this day I always get nervous, I always want to do my best. I've been lucky, all these big famous DJs, they are so successful, but at the same time they are so humble and nice that it makes you so comfortable being around them and playing before them.
What do you like to do when you're not DJing?
I sit on a leather chair all day. I sit in front of a computer. This is going to sound boring, but I'm kind of a boring person. I work a lot. During the day when I'm not working I'm either working on my music, eating cookies and drinking water, or when it's basketball season, I'll watch that here in the studio while I work. I'm pretty determined to finish this EP - all my energy is into that right now.
What are some of the craziest things that have happened while you've been DJing at a club?
I watch people fall all the time. I love to people watch. It depends what you consider crazy - I've seen people get into fights. One of the craziest things happened one night last year in March, it was almost like the club caught on fire because of how many bottles were sold. Somebody bought close to 200 Cristal bottles at once. So it was just one big fireball of sparklers, it was crazy and cool to watch. Also, I went to a club with Aoki up in Pampano Beach and he had me and Marshall Barnes get this raft and go into the crowd. So we are in the crowd on the raft and Steve jumps off the balcony and misses and just knees me in the face. It was crazy; we thought we were going to drop him.
What's your drink of choice, besides water of course?
I have two. Goombay Punch is a Bahamian drink that's really good - it's like a soda. And I'm so addicted to Red Bull. People tell me it's bad, but it's just so good. I love it.
Keep up to date on DJ Rascal and his upcoming EP.
Last Thursday, celebrated musician Flo Rida hosted his "Hey Jasmin Experience" concert in Miami. Since his recent release of new smach album Wild Ones, which features hit singles "Whistle," "Good Feeling," and "Wild Ones" featuring Sia, Flo Rida released "Hey Jasmin" as a free track and video in appreciation of his fans. The hip hop star followed up the release with an intimate club performance in celebration of the song, as well as in celebration of his #1 single "Whistle."
The artist was surprised by his management team when they presented him with an incredible cake honoring his hit. There was also a special guest appearance by Interscope recording artist JRand.
As the world awaits “Cruel Summer," the collaborative album/short film feature from Kanye West’s record label G.O.O.D (Getting Out Our Dreams), their latest music video “Mercy” offers some insight as to what audiences can expect. Directed by Nabil Elderkin, a longtime friend and collaborator of West’s, “Mercy’s” visual accompaniment is an ode to minimalist art. From the horizontal stripes and steps that run the length of the Qatar parking lot to the negative space angles created by each posed rapper---this is an anti-rap video. It gives audiences a glimpse of what's been inspiring Kanye West as of late (middle-eastern culture), while eschewing the ennui rap motifs of bouncing cars, video hoes, and flying money. The monochromatic color scheme and wide frame transforms the otherwise ordinary space into a minimalist work of art worthy of the MoMA.
Setting sail on January 6th, is Holy Ship! A three night non-stop electro dance music festival featuring three block buster parties, enough booze to fill a ship, and half naked people everywhere, all aboard the majestic 3600 max capacity MSC Poesia. Oh yeah, there will be glow sticks. This ridiculous line-up of deejays includes Knife Party, Skream & Benga, Major Lazer, Boys Noize, Skrillex and dozens more. The trip begins in Fort Lauderdale, christened by the Sail Away Party as the Poesia heads towards its first destination---the port city of Nassau. Upon docking, guests are invited to enjoy the city's sights or head to Atlantis Paradise Island for the water park and casino. Warm weather, white sand, and world-class DJs maintain the ambience as the party continues to build towards its climax, a beach party on a private island paradise featuring headlining performances from Justice and Diplo.
Morroccan-born DJ and producer Mednas has spent over a decade familiarizing himself with the electronic music scene by spinning around the world. He sat down with Joonbug to discuss house music over some hookah on Lincoln Road, and gave us the scoop on how he came to be resident for LIV Miami, one of the world's most lucrative nightclubs.
How long have you been DJing and producing?
Mednas: I’ve been DJing for almost 16 years now, since ’96. Producing, for the past six years.
Simon Richards has recently released his debut single, "Bee Bopping to My Life" and has his first album set to come out in September. Simon isn't your typical musician -- he actually had a past career as a doctor and has recently made his transition into music. He looks forward to helping people heal in a different way. His album, Kaleidoscope Worlds, is being released through Pyramid Records , Inc. We got the opportunity to talk with Simon about his album, his former career as a doctor, and how music has influenced his life.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming debut album.
My debut album, Kaleidoscope Worlds, I finished recording last year in November 2011. It took me two and half years and more than 1500 hours of studio production to finalize the album to where it is today. It was a truly amazing process and I really did pour my heart and soul into this album. I’m very excited to be sharing my first album with the world. It will be available for purchase in September 2012. Right now my single, Bee Bopping To My Life, is currently on the radio. It is a catchy summer song with a reggae influence.
Do you have any favorite singles off the album?
I would say that Children of the Ghetto, Joe’s Cafe, Come Fly with Me and Blown Away are my favorite songs off the album. “Children of The Ghetto” hits home for me because it portrays a serious message. The song in itself is focused on the under-privileged. It’s a message of hope and of never giving up, even when confronted with the harshest of realities, and always fighting for what you believe in. It is a very powerful song with an upbeat rhythmic song with a strong afro-influence.
How did you choose your first single "Bee Bopping to my Life" to be the first single released?
I decided to go with Bee Bopping to My Life because it is a fun, upbeat reggae song. I thought would be the perfect song to get out onto the radios just in time for summer. It’s a very bubbly, exciting song that is a catchy summer jam!
What made you transition from doctor to musician?
It was more to do with a spiritual journey that had started with medicine and was to continue through music. I wanted to go from the art of healing to the art of creating music. There was an inner force inside of me that always existed and I just allowed it to flow with questioning. It truly was an enlightening experience and felt as if I was going through a metamorphosis.
Do you see any similarities between your career as a doctor and your career as a musician?
Definitely! There is a distinct relationship as both professions are capable of healing and reaching the inner soul of people. Doctors and musicians help bring health and joy to people. I believe that I was born to be a healer and now that I am a musician I am still healing people around the world but in a different way.
How has music influenced your life?
It has allowed me to discover myself as a human being and become a better person. I am able to understand others on a different level and believe that I have truly grown in every field of life. I believe that music intertwines with every aspect of life.
If there was one catchphrase that you'd say you live your life to, what would it be?
I wear my soul on my sleeve.
You can visit Simon online here!