The two Polish pet lovers started their first 10 EPs not earning much. Gregory reflects, “When we started it was a big commitment. It wasn’t enough buy equipment and records.”
And look how far they’ve come. Catz ‘n Dogz is now a staple at international festivals; too numerous to name.. Park Life, Bestival, Snowbombing, Electric Daisy Carnival, Hideout, Exit Festival.. the list goes on.
Little things bug them – from lackluster sound systems to receiving their fare share of insistent song requests. Though there’s really nothing to complain about since they see touring as a privilege and besides, those little things don’t matter when they’re driven by a feeling. Voitek relishes the experience: “When you’re in the crowd, you’re in the moment. It’s the best thing ever. It’s just this one feeling.”
What has recently bothered them, though, is the possible closure of SoundCloud where mounting debts came to light after their close shave with the law. British performing rights organization, PRS, accused the streaming service for not properly paying out royalties to deserving artists. The lawsuit was eventually settled. Fortunately for the struggling Berlin-based company which Voitek acknowledges as “part of culture”; USD$35million in debt funding was recently raised to tide them over. This, however, is far from reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. SoundCloud still faces an uphill task in the months and/or years ahead, to sustainably monetize their service catering close to 150 million subscribers, who commit almost nothing* to use the platform. The issue isn’t isolated to streaming platforms and overreaches to physical copies of music as well.
Even with big labels, money doesn’t go to the artist. Even for discogs, where people pay ridiculous amounts of money for limited edition of vinyls, the money doesn’t go to the artist. It’s like a second-hand shop – money just doesn’t go to the artist, but to the person who stored the record.
Could the solution to the perennial music royalty distribution issue be tech disruptor, blockchain? It essentially removes the middlemen i.e. publishers or collective management organizations, that only add to transactional costs. By democratizing the royalty distribution process by ascribing a unique ID to each music track, companies like Ujo Music and Peertracks are disrupting existing distribution models, by monitoring plays digitally and automating payments to artists using cryptocurrency (e.g. bitcoin).
Changes to the music ecosystem will definitely be felt in the impending future, though what is most near and dear to them are the next gigs on their list. Croatia, land of azure blue skies will play host to them for Hideout 2016. It’s their second year at the festival, and will be joined in by beatmasters Jamie XX, Seth Troxler and The Martinez Brothers, to name a few. Last year was ace, and this year will be no less incredible. Catz ‘n Dogz, in typical Croatian fashion will be booking a boat and getting a few friends aboard to ride into the sunset. Here’s to an endless summer ahead!