“On-point’s prediction for 2010: blogs to become record labels”.
The music blogosphere is, oddly enough, a new concept for me. I was working for a modest record label in East London last year when one of their artists set about explaining their music to yours truly. Many hours and cups of tea later and I’m still confused, so he hands me a CD that simply reads Reset EP. An experience I liken to The Lion, the Witch & The Wardrobe, I quickly realise I have no idea how to unlock such a fleeting music scene. Words like Hype Machine, Google Reader and 1Xtra quickly become engrained in my repertoire and suddenly music blogs consume my browser. One of those blogs appears to bare the title Jus’ Like Music.
Founded in 2006 by enigmatic young turk Gavin Handley, Jus’ Like Music is a concise description of his musical space. “JLM is an outlet to the world, waxing lyrically about the music that is discovered and listened to daily.” Gav takes a very open approach to featured music with a slight emphasis on hip-hop, funk and electronica; Bonobo, Hudson Mohawke & Mayer Hawthorne are a few names that crop up amongst a rich artist spectrum. I get the impression Gav strives to conquer the world with an informal passion for great music if not an unfaltering ambition to represent niche musical genres through JLM. His latest project Oscillations seems testament to that idea.
“Oscillations is a free digital compilation encompassing a selection of the finest upcoming musical maestros, particularly from the genres of hip-hop, electronica, neo-soul and dubstep.” Gav’s background lies in IT support spawned on a longstanding expedition to Australia, with JLM forming an outlet for his musical affinity. This becomes apparent when discussing music with him; I have a hunch that Gav’s encyclopedic knowledge of music has been key to the blog’s success.
“In November last year I had a brainwave; create a free compilation to help spread the word of amazing, sometimes slept on, music to a wider audience. I had also recently discovered the music blog Apple Juice Break, who in a very short space of time had built a reputation for breaking unknown alternative hip-hop acts. I decided to approach Johanna at Apple Juice Break about my idea for the compilation, and Oscillations was born.”
Since moving back to the UK summer 2009, Gav has been pushing to take JLM from modest online magazine to a vibrant music community. A daunting task for any would-be blogger, but Gav has made use of social networking avenues to tap into his target audience and better understand his demographic. “The big aim for Oscillations is to get completely new ears to hear this music. People who have never heard of any of the artists, but are likely to hear them and think “what’s this?!”. But, at the same time, I have a strong inkling in my mind that it is just as important to appeal to existing followers of these artists.”
From time to time I’ve asked when Oscillations is due for release. “I’ve actually only known the full tracklisting for Part 1 myself for about a week or two.” Any other question is met with raw enthusiasm faced with the opportunity of showcasing tracks unique to the comp. “In the lead up to Part 1’s release, we have had artists from the compilation create and release mixes via Mixcloud to help create a bit of hype. Rather than go down the predictable route of making mixes ourselves that were tied strictly to the release, we thought it would be more interesting to hand the duties over to the artists and just let them do what they want.”
A thought I’ve returned to are the motivations behind the idea. “Obviously I would like for this to be downloaded as many times as humanly possible, but at the same time my feet are firmly rooted to the ground. We have a fantastic network of blogs, websites and DJs on board to support the releases and will rely heavily on their help to spread the word. Ultimately, I would like Oscillations to be downloaded and heard enough times that it gets talked about, you know, to the extent that people recognise it and they recognise the artists.” Whether intentional or otherwise, this statement fails to cover the fact that Oscillations is a free download. “Get the music heard and create more followers for these amazing artists – that’s the goal.”
What’s next for JLM Records? “I’m taking each day as it comes. I do have certain things in mind for the label, like physical product, collaborations, exclusives and maybe at some point club nights. But, I just want to remain optimistic, yet realistic.” Whether that answer portrays modesty or an articulated expression of “Urh, Idunno?”, Oscillations is a pioneering example of innovation alongside established labels struggling to sell records.
By Jules Hallam