Internet music tastemakers: Who are they?

Photo credit: Majestic

Internet music tastemakers have been popping up from all corners of the web and have completely altered the landscape of digital music. In many ways, the internet has given the voiceless a voice and power to ordinary people. Accessibility to the internet is still a major issue in some parts of the world but that is not deterring music selectors and curators to take advantage of platforms like Soundcloud, Youtube and various other paid streaming platforms like Spotify, Deezer and Tidal.

A tastemaker is somebody that sources talent from different parts of the web and houses it on a platform that has community-building possibilities like Soundcloud and Youtube. Soundcloud and Youtube are essentially free streaming platforms where users can set up accounts for free and get the ball rolling in terms of curating sounds of a particular type. Paid streaming platforms allow users to create playlists which people can listen to if they were to access the selector’s profile.

Internet music tastemakers have inadvertently assumed the role of A&Rs and some of these platforms allow up and coming artists to submit music for it to be featured on the platforms. One of the biggest Youtube tastemaker platforms is Majestic which was founded in 2011 by a young, media-shy German called Nick. The Youtube channel has grown to have over a three million subscribers and has advanced into the monetization phase which is estimated to be between $75 000 and $1.2 million per year. The one aspect that is most fascinating is how easy and affordable it is to set up a Youtube channel. If you have a gmail account, then you’re good to go as the process becomes incredibly easy with a gmail account.

It is important to hint at the fact that building a following online is not easy as you have to compete with millions of other people that are trying to do the same. The one thing that some of these tastemakers do to make a mark and attract internet traffic to their platforms is consistency. Consistency is key when it comes to building an audience. Most tastemakers have a clearly defined target audience and their platforms are genre-specific. Take Chillhop Nation, another tastemaker platform, that has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception. Chillhop Nation focuses on jazzy, instrumental-heavy, conscious Hip Hop and chill experimental beats. One of the many things that ChillHop Nation is getting right is that they understand their target listeners and this is seen by the graphics used on their Youtube thumbnails which translates into the mood created by the music housed on the platform.

Soundcloud tastemakers also function the same way as Youtube and are usually also genre-specific. The only obvious feature that Soundcloud does not have is video streaming capabilities. Tastemakers that are solely found on Soundcloud get to take advantage of the 125 million daily Soundcloud users. Soundcloud tastemakers are generally tasked with finding, sharing and allowing artists to submit music on their platforms. Some of these Soundclound tastemakers boast 400k plus followers and many have gone on to form record labels, online radio stations and global music collectives.

Essentially, internet music tastemakers are people that run web-based platforms which house music of their liking or of a specific genre. Internet tastemaker platforms have grown to even have teams of about 10 people, in some cases even more, which are grouped according to what is required of the platform. These teams normally include A&Rs, PR practitioners and marketers. The role that internet music tastemakers play is crucial in ensuring the progression of the music industry into the digital age. The music business model is changing and internet tastemakers are part of the much needed change.