Before Steve Aoki became a music superstar, he was the founder of his own music label Dim Mak — which he started when he was just 19 years old. Unfortunately for him, that was just a couple years before the rise of Napster. Here’s how Aoki navigated the early years of music piracy, and what he currently thinks of music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.
Aoki’s new album “Steve Aoki Presents KOLONY” is out on July 21st.
The following is a transcript of the video:
And we were a physical records business. And physical was going down. And this is like our source of income.
When I, when I look back at the history of my label … I started this label when I was 19. And I was putting on shows literally in my living room. It grew from that living room, into small little bars in Hollywood, into clubs.
And I remember Napster … And even at that era, this is like 10, 10 plus years ago … physical was going down. And we were a physical records business. And this is like our source of income. It was a big deal and like, they’re like, “Oh no .. people are giving away music, pirating music.” [Then] iTunes went up.
And so, we made a decision as like what I, I felt like we were one of the first independent labels to decide to give away our first single of our biggest act MSTRKRFT at the time. It was a decision that was made against every one of my team. I was like, “We kind of got to go with the flow with like where things are going. We got to like think ahead.” You know 6 months later .. we wanted to see the analysis of how the song did and we realised the song that we gave away sold the most amount of records for the entire album. You circulate the music and then it will sell.
And so, going into this new age of streaming I don’t really necessarily look at the downloads as much as I look at the streaming numbers. Streaming numbers are by far the more important. For example, “Just Hold On” … we’re at like 230 million streams. We might be on the downloads in America like 100,000 or something. That’s incredible. So it just goes to show how much more power it has. And whenever I see my songs or Dim Mak songs on playlists, it’s a major jump for the artist on all verticals of their business.
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