At just 23, Nicolas Jaar has achieved quite a lot. He set up his first label, Clown & Sunset, with friends Soul Keita and Nikita Quasim, when he was only 19 and started releasing their music. He went on to self release one of the mostly highly praised LPs of 2011, be named RA’s best live act of 2011 and to graduate with a degree from Brown University. Now, however, Jaar’s focus has moved away from Clown & Sunset and towards Other People.
Set up at the end of August, Other People replaced the now defunct label of Clown & Sunset. It’s first output was an 11 minute track from Jaar’s new band – Darkside – and has followed that with a compilation aptly titled Trust, Darkside’s debut LP, a jazz mix made by Dave Harrington (the other half of Darkside) and an EP by High Water. Jaar has taken up the role of creative director, leaving the day-to-day tasks to employees, and so all output from the label is chosen by him. Anyone who has listened to his BBC Essential Mix (which includes tracks from Angelo Badalament, Keith Jarrett and *N SYNC) would agree that this is no bad thing.
Instead of opting for the orthodox method of physicality, Other People chose to be a digital subscription service. Customers have two choices: a $5 monthly option, which allows you access to the weekly releases; or a $50 annual payment, this gives you access to the weekly release and also the entire back catalogue of both Other People and Clown & Sunset. In an interview with Billboard, Jaar explained his decision not to take up with physical releases was because “ownership of music is not as interesting as the idea of being part of a group.”
Subscription services are not a new concept. Drip.fm has been running for over a year now and has subscription deals with some of the biggest independent labels in the world. For around £10 per month (each label is individually priced) you can subscribe to the likes of Domino, Captured Tracks and even Franz Ferdinand, entitling yourself to exclusives and some special releases. The difference is that the revenue from Drip.fm, for these labels, is in addition to the main profit earning digital and physical releases; it is the opposite for Other People. Physical releases will accompany some releases, though often conjunction with other labels. For example, Darkside’s fantastic Psychic was released a week following its Other People release by Matador records.
On their website Other People acknowledge the future, with the release numbers going to 52. Jaar knows more than anyone that Clown & Sunset had a specific ‘sound’ – the slowed down, minimalist electronic – he wanted it so. The releases so far have been more in line with the sound that Clown & Sunset famed itself on, this, he promises, wont be the case for much longer. Jaar told Billboard that Other People will release “hip-hop, punk rock, noise and dance music,” and already has 30-40 releases lined up.
In his career so far Nicolas Jaar hasn’t followed the path of conventionality – he started his own label instead of signing to a major, crafted a sound that is undeniably his own and created a new medium of release (The Cube). Other People follows on this path and promises to be one of the most interesting musical ventures of the year.