Mark Barrott, founder of International Feel and the producer behind the acclaimed Sketches from an Island series, launches a Drip streaming service from Monday July 20 to tie in with the release of his Sketches from an Island 3 EP.
This innovative service will offer a unique insight into the daily working life of an artist and feature regular content in the form of exclusive music, back catalog, unreleased cuts, work in progress and demos, stems for budding producers, exclusive mixes, videos, invites to tour dates, photos, merchandise discounts and much more from the founder of the notorious Balearic label that brought us albums from DJ Harvey and Jose Padilla.
From Thursday July 23, Barrott will also be starting a weekly sunset residency at La Torre, Stella Maris, Ibiza. La Torre is one of Ibiza’s hidden gems, frequented by those in the know for it’s stunning sunset views and recently taken over by the people behind Cafe Mambo.
In advance of the launch of the service, XLR8R spoke with Barrott to learn more about the inspirations behind it, while a track from the new Sketches from an Island 3 EP can be streamed in full below.
So let’s begin on the Drip subscription service. Can you just describe how exactly this subscription service will work? How do people subscribe? Is there a fee involved?
Drip is, for me, the way forward. When I released my first album 20 years ago artists played live or DJ’d and managed to break even doing it, to promote their record. Fast forward to recent times and it’s completely changed: you now release records that break-even as a "calling card" to promote your DJ and/or live career.
But what happens if you don’t want to play live or make a certain type of records to get gigs? For studio based musicians, this is a very real conundrum and one that Drip goes some way to answering. As I am (mainly) a studio based musician, I can generate income from that in a number of ways - the obvious one is by building a catalog and searching out "sync" licensing for tv adverts etc. But in the absence record sales income, Drip is a possible replacement for this lost income and that, combined with the control I have over how to curate it, is an interesting and exciting prospect.
I also believe strongly that the "free content" bug that’s become so prevalent in recent times is wrong, wrong wrong. My job is to make music for you to write about, so why should I also provide you with free content to promote your website/magazine/blog etc…thats your job. Also, what happens in the studio is the starting point / source of everything - if people like me don’t make music, then DJ’s have nothing to play, journalists have nothing to write about and yet I get the sense that studio musicians are getting pushed aside for the fame and glamour of being a DJ and this is a big mistake and very short-termist (kind of like a Government / Country deciding to move into the service industry and stopping manufacturing cos people don’t want to get their hands dirty anymore). People don’t seem to have the patience or concentration (or desire) to learn a craft these days.
The bottom line is that I am absolutely 100% against free content and illegal downloading. I don’t come into your house and walk out with your TV, so if you want my music and all the energy and love that goes into making it then please pay for it - hence Drip.
In terms of the practicalities, anyone can do it - even your cat. It’s $7 a month.
And besides access to your back catalogue, unreleased music and tour tickets etc, briefly describe the benefits of subscribing?
What you’re getting is direct access to what I call my "Musical Consciousness." Not only do you get all the music I make in the future and a large part of my back catalogue (released and unreleased), you also get to see the process of how I make music - so when I start making the new album in Sept/Oct, I’ll be posting demo’s and work in progress. It’s what I call a big and beautiful experiment: some of it feels like running down the street naked, but thats part of the excitement as well.
So you’ll be getting everything I ever make from here on in, ahead of time, as well as back catalogue, unreleased stuff, exclusives, demo’s, work in progress, photo’s of my daily life around ibiza, stems to make your own versions, videos, gig invites etc. As the idea grows so will the depth and variety of content.
How is this content going to be managed? Is this something you plan to do yourself, or will it be delegated?
No this is 100% me day by day - it won’t work if someone else was involved. In fact, a simple way to look at it, is as a audio/multimedia diary of my life.
While social media unquestionably offers an invaluable tool for artists/labels etc to interact with their fan base, it can detract attention from what is actually important: the music. Is this something that you are aware of?
I think social media for the sake of it (i.e. generating numbers to impress people like bookers or editors / journalists) is vacuous and a road to nowhere and this is another reason for starting a Drip. It’s like a private social network that gives you direct access to an artist and his/her musical and wider life.
I understand that the announcement is set to tie in with the release of his Sketches from an Island 3 EP - but is there any other motivation for launching the service now in particular?
Well there’s a lot going on at the moment and it’s been on my mind for a month or two to do this, so it seemed like a good time, with the new EP, two DJ Residency’s, a couple of new video’s etc. With all this going on it, it is better than launching it in, say, September, when I’m about to head back into the studio and there’s no release/news to ‘hang’ it around. I also wanted it up and running before the work on the new album starts, so it’s there to be able to document the process, which is something I find really exciting and hopefully others will too.
The use of social media by artists/labels and other key figures in music has long been discussed. Besides International Feel's official website, there is also a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a SoundCloud page. By starting the Drip streaming service, what do you hope to achieve that you cannot do already via social media outlets with which you’re currently already engaged?
Its important to be clear that the Drip service is about is me as an artist, not, at this stage, International Feel as a label - even though the two are very interlinked.
But even with the International Feel Facebook, it’s really only used to keep people up to date with releases and other associated bits n bobs (as is S.Cloud and Twitter), so this is entirely different: this is me as an artist opening up both myself and my music without reservation, which is exciting, scary and liberating all at the same time and will, hopefully, motivate my lazy ass into actually making more music to fulfil the ‘moral obligation’ of having people pay a monthly subscription.
Will there be content shows via the Drip service that will not be readily available via the label’s social media outlets? If so, how do you find this balance without alienating those fans who follows the label on social media?
The current International Feel Social Media channels will stay exactly as they are and quite a bit of stuff on my Drip will be available to members and non members alike, as I’ll be using it as a hub for any news etc that gets generated around my artistic life. But if you want direct access to me as an artist and to a degree as a person living in Ibiza, then you’ll have to subscribe to the Drip and get all the Member Only stuff / exclusives etc.
Looking forward, do you anticipate other artists/labels incorporating such an innovative system, or do you perceive this system to be something unique to your fan base and brand of International Feel?
Well I think that for ‘niche’ artists like myself, this is the way forward, as opposed to say Spotify. As you can probably imagine, I’m not a fan of streaming at all - it devalues/cheapens what we do, so I think that a Drip is the perfect balance between artist and listener. It allows studio musicians to generate an income again from their music and allows fans / subscribers / like minded individuals, a chance to get direct access to that artist in a new and exciting way.
Onto other things, let’s discuss your weekly sunset residency at La Torre. It’s a beautiful location to play and I imagine you’re very excited to get started. How are preparations coming on for it?
I went for sunset there last week and before I got there I was thinking, 'Do I really want that commitment?' And then I got there and was so inspired that I put my iPod headphones on and started DJing the sunset to myself !!
I think there’s the possibility of building something really special there over the coming months and years, recontextualising the Jose Padilla blueprint for modern times. Ibiza has lost it’s way: sunsets are special and unique and should not be soundtracked by tech-house just because that's what sells more drinks, so I intend to the bold in what I play and if that doesn’t connect with people, I’ll just disappear back to the compound with my synthesisers!
Preparation wise I don’t just want to DJ - it’s not something I’m good at or feel comfortable doing, so I’ve built myself a little rig with a laptop, dub delay, loads of speech samples/nature sounds, a synth and two DJ decks. It's kind of partially live, partially DJ, partially soundsystem. I tried it out at the Sunrise Sessions we did at the Garden Festival in Croatia two weeks ago and it worked really well and was great fun, so roll on Thursday and my four hour sunset!
To sign up for the subscription service, follow this link.