Music runs online in 2016. Songs become smash hits via YouTube, while global superstars command attention by giving exclusives to streaming services. Looking back at a time when web-only artists were novel seems absurd now.
"Around 2010, I think the internet music scene really existed separate from the indie and major scenes," says Tomohiro Konuta, founder of online imprint Maltine Records. "But now, lots of artists become big from Soundcloud or Bandcamp. In a way, everything is internet music. It isn't really special anymore."
Eleven years ago, the netlabel represented a real alternative to a music industry fixated on physical releases and pay-to-download singles. Konuta (better known by the nickname "Tomad") founded the label with a friend, and its acts (tofubeats, Mikeneko Homeless) quickly developed a sizeable following eager to download their free MP3 releases — online, of course.