Labtones: Independent music network
- Published: 12 March 2011
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A group of Dutch musicians has created a website where artists can share their work and listeners can discover great new music. But you might not want to tell anyone about this not-for-profit indie project, Jasper Van Dorp – one of the founders – tells Katrina Fox.
13 March 2011
How long has Labtones been in existence?
The Labtones network started about a year ago, in the beginning of 2010. During the first year we did a lot of serious “beta testing”, together with our helpful users. Recently, on 26 February, we had our official launch.
Who’s behind Labtones and where are you based?
The website was founded by a group of friends who were playing in a band together. We are based in Dordrecht, The Netherlands. Everything related to Labtones is carried out by ourselves, from development to design and marketing.
Why the title ‘Labtones’?
The word is basically composed out of 'Laboratory' and 'tones'. As a band, we also had a small recording studio back then called 'The Laboratory'. The name reflected our view on music: as an experiment; much like a scientist working in the lab, constantly mixing different chemicals.
And that is also how we would like Labtones to be: as a place for artists to experiment and get feedback on their latest demos, for example.
It’s for independent artists to share their work and find new listeners. How does it differ from say YouTube where artists and listeners can do a similar thing? What are the advantages of Labtones for both artists and listeners?
We found that there is so much good music out there, made by – unfortunately – unknown artists. Somehow, it is very difficult for these artists to get noticed on websites like YouTube.
We provide a system with which music lovers can give direct feedback to the artists using a rating, review and voting system. This system is used to generate charts, recommendations to the users and the playlist of Labtones Radio.
So, on Labtones we have one goal: giving good music a chance to get heard.
How do you decide which artists can register on the site – what is the criteria?
Although we focus on 'independent' artists, there are really no criteria. Any artist can create a free account and upload their music.
What kind of music genres are available on Labtones?
The genres which are available are quite diverse: alternative, singer/songwriter, electronic music, and much more. Thanks to an advanced recommendation system you get tips according to your taste, so you won't get lost!
What are the most popular?
From the charts, we find that the indie, alternative and singer/songwriter genres are the most popular.
Where are artists predominantly from?
There is not really one country which is predominant; the artists are mostly from North America, Europe and Australia.
Have any artists that registered on Labtones gone on to be a commercial success?
We know of some bands who got a record deal after they registered on the network, but it is difficult to say if this is due to their presence on Labtones.
However, we get a lot of positive feedback, both from artists and listeners. Artists really feel that Labtones gives them the platform they are looking for. Some artists even told us that they use Labtones as their main website because they can put all the important information on their profile: music, a biography, videos, gigs, and so on.
Other than exposure, do artists get any financial recompense from being featured on the site?
So far, we cannot give any financial compensation since we do not earn money with the network.
What does Labtones get out of the project?
Running the website is a hobby, and like all hobbies this will cost us some money. However, we get a lot of fun out of it and we discover a lot of great new music ourselves.
Of course, it would be great if the website could 'self-support' itself after some time.
What’s the deal with your slogan: ‘The online music network you want to keep for yourself’ – surely the idea is to promote new music and your site?
Of course we realize that this is a tricky way to promote our website. We have chosen this slogan because it expresses how most serious music lovers think, and after all, this is our main target audience.
If you discover a great band, you want to share this with all your friends, of course. But in the meantime, it is a great feeling to be the first one to discover a band, so you want to keep your sources secret.
Obviously, this whole thing is tongue-in-cheek and we are sure that music lovers will understand the irony of it!
Approximately how many artists/listeners are currently registered on your site?
The complete network currently consists of a couple of thousand registered users.
Any other comments?
We are continuously looking for ways to make the website more interesting and user-friendly. Therefore, we are always open to feedback from our users and we really hope that we can make Labtones a big success, together with all the artists and music lovers.
Visit Labtones for more information and to register.
Katrina Fox is editor-in-chief of The Scavenger.