Since first launching in the summer of 2007, SoundCloud has emerged as one of the most innovative and popular online audio distribution platforms in the world, giving the MySpace artist network a run for its money. By allowing sound files to be distributed via widgets and apps, and pretty much embedded anywhere on the web, SoundCloud has expanded its audience reach across major social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter, becoming the de facto music player for a great deal of EDM lovers around the globe.
Arguably the coolest feature on SoundCloud is the fact that users can post comments on specific sections of a track or DJ mix, these often consisting of track ID inquiries. And the best part is that people -- often total strangers -- actually help each other out by identifying track titles, which in a sense is helping obscure producers gain more recognition than ever before, and hopefully increasing record sales as well.
In the world of SoundCloud there is one name that reigns supreme, and that's the ubiquitous and mysterious "R_co". With over 13,000 DJ mixes posted, and over 11,000 followers on SoundCloud, R_co is something of an elusive celebrity amongst the international EDM community (whether he knows it or not.) Social metrics aside, there are surely very few SoundCloud users who haven't come across one of R_co's uploads yet, let alone shared or posted them. In Miami alone, with our close-knit underground EDM scene and small network that stretches across Facebook and Twitter, R_co is definitively no stranger.
No stranger, but certainly a big mystery! Who is this R_co anyways? How does he manage to get his hands on so many DJ sets -- dozens of them a week, and some fresh off the decks from last weekend's gigs at random venues around the world? Is he a promoter? Record label owner? DJ? Producer? Even then, what drives his devotion to amassing and sharing the world's single largest treasure vault of DJ mixes? The questions were gnawing at us for the longest time, until we actually managed to track down R_co and request an interview. What we found out was amusing, endearing, and inspiring all at once, because as it turns out, "R_co" a.k.a. Rico Passerini is nothing more than an electronic dance music lover with a big heart of gold, and a living testament to the power of social media and the power of ordinary people sharing and connecting.
Read the full Q&A after the jump.
New Times: Thanks for getting back to us Rico, we don't know much about you yet, but we do know you must be a busy guy.
Rico Passerini: Sorry for the mega delay, but it's really sunny here in Berlin at the moment. I went out for a beer after work... that beer turned into two beers... those two beers turned into... I guess you know the script!
[Laughs] So tell us, because we're dying to know -- who is the real "R_co"?
I guess I should mention before I answer your questions that I'm not anyone special. I hope it's OK for you! The real "R_co" is just a regular guy with a passion for electronic music. I'm from the UK originally, however I moved to Berlin a year and a half ago for the music scene. I'm often mistaken for being some big shot in the music industry, but I'm not.
So how do you manage to get your hands on so many DJ sets as soon as they come out? Are you well-connected in the EDM scene?
No, I'm not connected at all really. The more popular my page has become, the more I've been in contact with a few DJs and record labels, but nothing major really. To be honest, there is no real one place I get music from. I get mixes from all over the place: podcasts, radio shows, forums like Resident Advisor, plus I have a big archive of mixes that I've picked up over the years too. Recently though I've been lucky enough to get sent mixes personally from certain club nights and record labels like OFF Recordings, Berlin and Soma Records, plus I get a few mixes personally sent from a few DJs too.
You certainly devote a lot of daily hours sharing music on SoundCloud. Why do you do it? Is it just a labor of love?
It's good to share. My mother always taught me to share and share alike! Nah, music is my passion really. I love listening to music, I love going out to clubs to hear music. I just love electronic music. And with SoundCloud I can share that passion with the world. I love seeing people enjoying music that I've shared, even though it's not music from myself personally. It's good to see everyone helping each other out with track names, and hopefully this helps out the artists a bit more as you can then go out and buy the vinyl.
What's your involvement in the music scene beyond sharing music online?
My involvement in the music scene apart from sharing music online is clubbing really -- clubbing a lot! I do DJ and I'm working on a few tracks of my own, so yeah... watch this space!
SoundCloud really exploded in 2010 and become the primary social network for EDM artists and DJs. As of late a lot of artists in other genres, like rock, have been crossing over as well. Do you think it has the potential to become the number one network for musicians in general, like Myspace has been?
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Yeah, I really do think SoundCloud has the potential to be the number one website for artists and musicians. I personally know two people who have gotten a record deal from uploading their own music to SoundCloud. It is a unique place to share music, not only can you listen and download music, but you can comment on any one given moment of a track, which makes it more interactive than Myspace for me. Not only that, it's easy to move and share your music around the site with other people, and off the site you can still use the widget players to link to your music on SoundCloud.
Having posted well over 10,000 DJ sets, mixes and podcasts you must have an encyclopedic knowledge of EDM. Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists? Is there anyone we should keep an eye out for in the near future?
Hmmm... Good question. For me right now Nina Kraviz is really putting out some great music. Sven Weisemann too, he's been DJing at Tresor since he was like 16 or something. I saw him in Berlin the other week -- he rocked! Also Peter Van Hoesen is making and playing some epic techno right now. I love Mike Huckaby too, he plays the best deep house. And for records, Tevo Howard is really tweaking me right now.
Click here to follow @R_Co on SoundCloud and stay tuned for his daily music uploads.