Monstercat is one of music’s most influential independent record labels.
Once focused on electronic dance music, the Vancouver-based label now supports developing artists of all genres. With over 90 million monthly Spotify streams and 30 million monthly YouTube videos, Monstercat has made a huge mark with music fans. They’ve acquired placement partnerships with Rocket League, Esports league, Blizzard Entertainment, Nintendo, EA, and other video gaming giants, and have secured syncs in Apple, Toyota, T-Mobile, E!, MTV, GoPro, and more. Monstercat represents over 70 artists in over 20 countries, including Conro, Slushii, and Notaker, just to name a few.
We’re excited to share with you our interview with Ross Festenstein, Licensing Manager at Monstercat, about the label’s journey, some company highlights, and their approach to sync deals.
Monstercat launched in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2011 as an independent electronic dance music label and have since signed over 70 artists, and released over 2,000 songs. How did you know the music industry was in need of a company like yours?
Honestly, we didn’t really know much about the music “industry” when Monstercat began. Our founders Mike and Ari had a desire to support artists they liked, and share their music with as large of an audience as possible. They then grew the label based off their own thoughts about how a record label should operate; a strategy that continues to evolve with feedback from our artists and fan community. For instance, many Monstercat fans now stream themselves playing video games on YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer, so we created a program called Monstercat Gold that allows those content creators to include certain Monstercat songs in their videos without getting copyright claims.
Every week you release new music under one of two sub-brands: Monstercat Instinct and Monstercat Uncaged. Could you explain a bit about both and the genesis as to the decision to split them into two?
While the Monstercat “sound” has always stretched across all of electronic music, we release a lot of music and recognize that each song might be enjoyed in different ways by different fans. This concept lead to the creation of those two brands under Monstercat: Instinct and Uncaged. Instinct is home to our melodic and vocal-driven songs that blur the line between pop and electronic music. Uncaged music can be described as high energy, hard-hitting, bass-heavy, and jaw-dropping. There is a time and place for each song we release, and by introducing the Instinct and Uncage brands to our fan community, we created an easier way for listeners to find the music they’ll love.
You began with a focus on electronic music and later broadened your scope to all genres. What prompted the shift, and how’s Monstercat changed since welcoming more sounds?
Much of modern music refuses traditional genre association, and most Monstercat releases are no different. Our Music team searches for unique artists and songs because our community champions particular artists or songs, not genres. So, it’s only natural that we introduce the community to new genres and styles by encouraging the artists we work with to take risks with the music they make. We’re grateful for our community of fans that embrace new sounds, and we’ll continue to support artists who create a variety of musical styles. After all, who wants to hear the same thing over and over again?
You’ve partnered with the award-winning video game Rocket League. How do you decide what music should be added to their soundtracks?
Partnering with Rocket League is a dream come true because many of our artists, team members, and fans play the game and are deeply embedded in gaming culture. Monstercat has its own gaming division, and our Head of Gaming works directly with Rocket League’s Audio Director to figure out which upcoming releases fit best in the game. Our A&R team is also involved, and everyone chats pretty regularly about the release calendar. Together we’ve been able to release songs into the game on the same day they hit streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. The millions of people who play Rocket League every day can now discover a new favorite song as they score goals.
Tell us about your recent sync with Hershey’s Hersheypark. Our team would love to know if they can see the actual feature!
Hershey’s first approached us to find a song for their new ride Reese’s Cupfusion. They loved the song “Try This” from one of our most popular artists, Pegboard Nerds, and decided to feature it in the video greeting patrons at the ride itself. Then Hershey’s created a 30-second TV spot to inform potential attendees of the ride’s opening. We were all excited to hear the song in this great commercial that aired for people in many Northeast states:
What are some of your favorite syncs/sync highlights to date?
Currently we’re most excited about our syncs with the award-winning VR game Beat Saber, where players slash blocks representing musical beats with a pair of red and blue lightsabers. Our first music pack for Beat Saber features 10 Monstercat songs, including “Overkill” by RIOT, which has become the most challenging Expert+ level. Few have risen to the challenge! Try out the game on the new Oculus Quest all-in-one gaming headset, and keep an eye out for new music packs featuring Monstercat music!
Also, many of us grew up inspired by Apple’s iconic ads for the iPod, so we were incredibly honored when Apple chose DROLOE’s song “Jump” featuring Nevve for this Apple Watch commercial:
Set a daily calorie goal and move until you hit it. #CloseYourRings
Posted by Apple on Tuesday, July 25, 2017
You’ve teamed up with Reebok & Nina Dobrev recently for BODYJAM workout. Are there other sports partnerships on the horizon?
We continue to work with Les Mills, producers of that awesome BODYJAM workout with Nina Dobrev & Reebok, so you’ll be able to hear more Monstercat music in Les Mills workouts that will be released next year! We love the ways GoPro, Dude Perfect, and Alien Dance Studio feature Monstercat music in their videos, and we’re always exploring additional partnerships with sports & fitness brands. Soon you can hear Monstercat music alongside cycling workouts and content featuring professional sports and esports teams!
Want to hear some of their music?