For this “Secrets of the Biz” article we sat down with Mike Darlington, co-founder of Monstercat, an independent label in dance music with over 6 million YouTube subscribers,19 number one chart-topping albums on iTunes, and over 3 million singles sold to date as well as over 1.5 million streams per day on Spotify.
Mike Darlington has built Monstercat into one of the most revered independent labels in dance music by way of his ingenuity and passion for the label. Starting Monstercat as a YouTube channel to share his friends’ music, Darlington and co-founder Ari Paunonen discovered the potential to expand it into a modern digital record label.
Tell us about Monstercat
Monstercat is one of electronic music’s most influential independent record labels. Founders Mike Darlington (CEO) and Ari Paunonen (COO) founded the label in 2011, and since moving to Vancouver, British Columbia, have built a roster of world-renowned artists. The company’s mission is to connect artists with fans in a way that nurtures the spirit of sharing and family.
Monstercat is a label finely in-tune with an audience that communicates primarily in the online realm. Notable achievements include: over 6 million YouTube subscribers, 19 number one chart-topping albums on iTunes, and over 3 million singles sold to date as well as over 1.5 million streams per day on Spotify. And with success in major markets including the United States, the UK, and Australia, Monstercat has many highly successful branches of merchandising, live event promotion, and technological innovation.
What’s your secret to finding talent?
The real secret ingredient I would say to finding talent is trusting in your team. Our A&R team remains intensely passionate about the music we release that it always boils down to quality of a record; and being able to eliminate outside factors. Not only that, but I believe that maintaining relationships with industry leaders, tastemakers, artists, and so on is another key in the sense of having honest open conversations that allow us to continue to be a sponge. If you think you know everything there is to know about the music industry than those on their way up, you’re falling behind.
How do you continue to attract such a large audience?
I think it is more accurate to call our audience a community. We place a huge amount of importance not only in the music, but in different ways to keep our community feeling involved. Whether thats through our weekly podcast Call Of The Wild, or our Uncaged shows across the world and so on, we always are working hard to grow the Monstercat family. It truly is an ecosystem that thrives on making a place people want to come back to in terms of Monstercat; we’re true believers that fastest and most powerful growth is by way of word of mouth.
What should we look out for next from Monstercat?
We are so excited to have our Monstercat Uncaged Toronto event this Saturday at Velvet Underground! For many members of the Monstercat team including myself, Toronto is home. And having Botnek, Grant, Notaker, Riot, and Tokyo Machine on the bill, I think this will be a really special homecoming for a lot of us.
Craziest Monstercat story, GO!
Well I would definitely have to say having our Tomorrowland Stage this summer. That may seem like too easy of an answer, but the fact that only two years ago were we going to Tomorrowland as fans on a company trip, wide-eyed at the scale of this festival, to having our very own stage with the likes of Marshmello, Krewella, Slushii, Seven Lions and more playing with us was such an incredibly humbling experience none of us will forget.
“If you built it, they will come” – How have you guys built a community around Monstercat?
Like I mentioned before, they key is allowing their to truly be a community in which we help allow that ecosystem to truly thrive. We want Monstercat to not just be a conduit for releases, but really a home for fans to keep returning to. Through our events, our podcasts, our merch releases, and more, we want to give fans every opportunity to feel involved in what we do.
Tell us a secret. Don’t worry we won’t tell.
Our first hit single by Marshmello – Alone is on the verge of going platinum in the USA. It’s our first US platinum record!