Much of the drum and bass world was shocked this week when the announcement was made that a new huge drum and bass playlist would be appearing on Spotify with over 150 labels and hundreds of artists participating. The I <3 Drum and Bass playlist was the brainchild of DJ Fresh and Simon Bassline Smith. The two veteran producers apparently came up with an idea in an online chat room but soon realized they had an idea for a way to unify dnb subgenres and give otherwise overlooked DJs and labels a chance to have access to a huge venue like Spotify. The producers involved managed to put together a massive catalog in just under two weeks, and the playlist is already taking off like a juggernaut with over 10,000 followers in the last 24 hours.
The playlist will be modified and added to by a number of label heads and producers with some set guidelines so that everyone gets a fair shake and the idea that it will keep expanding. As Instagram and Twitter have turned pink in the past 24 hours with the I <3 Drum and Bass logo popping up on literally every DJ, producer, label and fan account, Your EDM came up with a few questions that many people may want to know about this innovative project came to fruition and what the future holds for the I <3 Drum and Bass movement.
Apparently this whole idea started in a group chat where a bunch of DJs were wishing Grooverider a happy birthday. How did the subject of creating such a massive playlist for dnb come up in that context?
Simon Bassline Smith: Dan Fresh had been discussing the importance of adapting to and embracing streaming platforms like Spotify & Apple Music. He was discussing ways we could adapt our music and present it in a way which could engage listeners more instantly.
I’d been thinking for some time about my experiences with streaming platforms as a label owner. It came to my attention months ago that a lot of people who listen to drum and bass, aren’t really consuming music on streaming platforms – a lot of DJs and producers are still pushing MP3s and downloads to their fans and so I felt that culture needed to be changed and brought bang up to current trends. Looking at Spotify and all the other genres, they have large playlists for grime, hip-hop, R&B, house et cetera, but when I searched for drum and bass, I could only find big playlists owned by the major labels.
So I came up with idea what would happen if we can get the entire dnb community together to all support one playlist of which we could all be a part, own and update and support we could change attitudes, we could get the whole community to really embrace streaming platforms. I mentioned this in the small WhatsApp group on a Sunday morning. Dan (DJ Fresh) really embraced the idea along with DJSS, Mickey Finn, Futurebound, Heist and a couple of others. So we chatted and came up with an action plan to make it happen!
DJ Fresh: I’ve been focused on streaming for a while, and I no longer promote and release other people’s records. My attention has been on DJ playlists. I figure we’re all DJs and people look to us to sift through the ever expanding barrage of content to find great music. To this end I’d been developing my 101 playlist series, a place where people can get the 101 on styles of music I like. But my frustration has been there’s no one place to go and find out what the newest drum and bass music released is. I’ll spend hours sifting through mailing lists and twitter trying to make notes on what’s about to hit Spotify and making sure I remember to upload it. When Simon mentioned the idea of one playlist for all drum and bass, it just seemed like such a genius idea and I could see so many people that could benefit from this, including myself!
How did you decide on Spotify for the playlist platform?
Spotify was always the target because it simply has the largest audience and with that in mind would give back much-needed revenue to the artists and labels from streaming. Everyone involved supports Apple, Deezer, YouTube and the other platforms, and we intend to make the playlist present everywhere soon, but to start with we needed to get everyone focused on one simple goal.
How did you decide on the rules for posting for each label (ie one track per week per release)?
Simon Bassline Smith: Myself and Dan had a long conversation that morning and we talked through some of the early guidelines we would need to implement a playlist with so many labels and artists involved. Then we expanded it to a smaller group where lots of ideas were thrown around. It was really important to make it as non-political as possible. A key point for everyone was that there was to be no monetization of either the playlist or the brand itself, and that we would regulate and enforce this as a group. Because we were determined to make it completely open to everyone and all styles equally and we spent considerable time discussing the system and mechanism for upload. People gradually came on board with the idea that they had nothing to lose and a really positive momentum started to build. We set up an ‘Engine Room’ where the current admins Gareth at Databeats, Mickey Finn, DJ SS, Brendan Futurebound (who has had a lot of experience and success with streaming) and Lars from Triple Vision Distribution could go through the finer points at length. And we had countless hour long conference calls to discuss the concerns of people in the ‘Artist room’ (a Telegram room set up for artist discussion).
Eventually this catalog is going to be massive. Do you see it going on indefinitely?
We’ve discussed ways that we can actually expand the Playlist as we grow. There are various ways without saying to much at this but we’re positive we can build on this.
Who will be moderating the playlist and who will have access to post on it?
The Playlist is being monitored by a small group who we’ve already mentioned. But the members of ‘The Engine Room’ are to be decided on by a large Telegram group of labels. We’ve found a system for upload that uses data provided by Spotify to ensure the list is ordered with newest uploads at the top, so no one gets preferential treatment and audiences are always guaranteed to be greeted with the newest releases, every day as one of us takes it in turns to update it. (Please feel free to buy us a beer or Virgin Pina Colada in Dan’s case if you read this!)
A big theme or reason you guys wanted to do this was to unify all the subgenres and create a unifying factor in drum and bass with this playlist. How important do you think that is right now?
Drum and bass has always been a big family. It was really touching to see people entering the Artist Lounge and greeting old friends from all over the world. You really get the feeling this is something that has been missing. We used to have Music House where everyone met to swap dubplates and new tunes. And then Dogs on Acid which seems to have fallen by the wayside a bit with the emergence of social networks. What makes drum & bass special is that although it is a truly global phenomenon with millions of fans and the potential to top the charts, it’s also super niche and cutting edge. It has always been primarily championed by people who just love the music and want to be a part of it. Whether promoters, DJs, artists, labels, blogs. We’re all just one big family and that’s what has made drum and bass such a mainstay. A place like I <3 ️Drum & Bass may serve to give us that community platform and compete as a genre even in the face of almost complete corporate control of the music industry as has become the case over the last few years in particular. It could be the stone that David threw at Goliath?
Do you think unifying in this way on a digital platform will help start to dispel some of the stigmas and infighting between “subgenres”?
Yes that’s a great questions because with a Playlist full of all the subgenres. It will be consumed as “drum and bass” which it all really is. It will actually subconsciously break down some barriers between them and the consumers of the playlist can open their minds to tracks they may never usually have listened to. The feedback we’ve had already suggests this. So its an exciting time for all drum and bass fans.
There are about 150 labels on the playlist right now. Do you plan to add more?
Absolutely. It has always been our intention to represent everyone with no politics. As we grow to a point we will have to figure out how to have some kind of system to maintain some level of quality, but it is essential that we do this without introducing any bias based on style, taste or popularity.
What kind of conversations do you hope to see around this playlist?
Right now we just want to let everyone know whats happening. Its such a big network, we’re still waking the giant and we need every promoter to post the Spotify link. Every MC to stop his party and tell people to get involved. Every fan to tell their friends. This is something for us all to celebrate together.
What’s your greatest hope for what this idea can turn into?
We hope that the “I <3 Drum & Bass” playlist can be something that is a legacy for drum and bass and that in time we can look back as a symbol of the labels and artists coming together to show unity within the scene & beyond. We have a really strong dedicated team that having been working really hard in the background, we feel incredible that we’ve been able to deliver in just 2 weeks – but we are conscious that the real hard work starts now.
The #iluvdrumandbass playlist is up now on Spotify. Click here to follow the playlist and listen below.