Launching in 2013, CloudKid has quickly morphed into one of the most renowned channels for electronic music discovery and has continued to blossom into a full-blown record label.
Striving to diminish traditional beliefs and values in the music industry, CloudKid focuses on developing and growing artists to recognised talent. From recent releases with the likes of Gabriel Black, TRAILS, MEMBA to name just a few – we caught up with founder Gereon Sommerburg on how things all started and what’s next for this rising label.
What is CloudKid and how did it all start?
CloudKid is an artistic brand focused on shining the light on undiscovered talent both on the music spectrum but also on the art/design side of things. The YouTube channel was the starting point. I was (and still am) a huge fan of channels like MrSuicideSheep, Majestic Casual, The Sound You Need etc. However, none of these channels appealed to my personal taste 100%. Hence I decided to create my own channel and try to do things my way. That has now grown into a record label where we sign artists and help launch their careers, and promoting artists and merchandise on our Instagram.
How and why was the label born?
The aim with the YouTube channel was always to help launch artists careers and for it to be that starting point. I quickly realised that an upload on the channel alone, although extremely impactful, wasn’t enough for a lot of artists to turn their passion into a career. With my network and my team’s experience we decided that we had to take this to the next level, and so the label was born.
Do you think running such a successful YouTube platform gave you an advantage when turning to A&R and releasing music?
Most definitely, it is a great source of discovery of new talent and gives a very tangible value for artists we reach out to work with. I think these days its so easy for an artist to self-release on DSPS that a label needs to bring in a lot more value than just being able to distribute or throw money at a record.
What’s the philosophy behind the label?
It’s all about giving freedom to our artists. Although we are a brand, for us signing an artist isn’t a means of growing our own platforms. We want to use our brand to grow the artist and we want to direct our audience as much as we can to the artist’s platforms. We try to be as hands on as possible in areas where we feel the artist really needs help and to the extent that we are not placing road blocks in their vision and are allowing them to be themselves at all times. You will notice we rarely put our logo on any label releases.
In practical terms though, it’s about not over-releasing and spreading ourselves thin. We are not trying to create an enormous catalogue, we are trying to build a tight knit roster of artists that we can give all our attention to and really help launch to the next level.
You’ve made a name for yourselves as being tastemakers for the electronic genre on YouTube. What do you look for in the artists you release and how do you find them?
Well for one, it’s all about the music of course. I think when we’re talking music, its all about the feeling that gives but also about finding an artist that is trying something new and unique. I think the seconds biggest aspect is the artist vision. Where are they going, what’s his message what are their goals? Finally it’s all about branding and aesthetic. That speaks so much to us and is so important when signing someone.
What have been your proudest achievements so far?
For me the most fun and fulfilling project we’ve done as a label this year was definitely the track we worked on with Gabriel Black titled ‘Jump.’ Working super close with the artist and his team to build a story around a release with a mobile game, merchandise, animated videos and assets with Gabriel and CloudKid as well as a lyric video in the artists style was one of the best projects so far. Seeing that all come together and actually experiencing the impact it had on the artist is what I strive to do a lot more of.
What have been the greatest difficulties, as a label, and as individuals working within a label, you’ve had to overcome?
I think where we’ve struggled the most at the start was solidifying our long term vision. We had to experiment quite a bit to realise where we truly wanted to be. I think another big struggle at the early stages was getting distracted by too many opportunities. It is so easy to get excited by all the possible opportunities you can take to exploit your catalog or make more money as a label. But we quickly realised we need to pinpoint our vision and really cyber-focus on that.
Desert Island Disco: what three label releases would you take with to cover all musical bases, moods and occasions?
Gabriel Black – ‘Jump’ for the moments I’m feeling down.
Memba – ‘Flash’ to get myself motivated and hyped up.
JT Roach – ‘Lazy Kisses’ to put me in a good mood!
What DJs, artists and labels are exciting you at the moment?
From a label perspective we really look up to Fueled By Ramen, Future Classic, Mom & Pop and Interscope. In terms of artists, DROELOE, Whethan, MAX, Louis The Child, Oliver Tree, grandson (to name a few).
Where would you like to see the label in a year’s time?
The ultimate goal and what we have been working hard on the past year is to build a roster of a few artists that we can work with long term and help build a strong affiliation with on our brand.