Standout Netlabel Design

There are a plethora of netlabels out there and with the technology we currently have, it is easier than ever to set up your very own creative commons music distribution website. The downside to this open share culture is the sheer mass of media fighting for your attention. Despite the vast amount of music available to the individual who spends time seeking it, there seems to be a number of netlabels going that extra mile, demanding attention and presenting high quality (and imaginative) user interfaces which people can interact with and enjoy. I have found the following netlabels and their respective designs and user interface to be either extremely inventive, imaginative and interesting or just plain sexy.

SHSK’H Netlabel

The website design for SHSK’H Netlabel is up there as one of my absolute favourites. I first stumbled upon it for some modern classical sounds and when I landed there I got much, much more than I had bargained for. The design is sleek and intuitive, every release is contained within a small circle vertically down the page, suspended by numerous coloured lines upon a dark grey background. Moving the mouse over the releases allows the user to drag each circle out of place, immediately being able to manipulate the netlabel environment is liberating (and fun)! Should you decide to go ahead and check out a release, simply click any circle and the page immediately transforms into a dedicated release information hub – where track titles spring outward from the release circle and the first track streams with a rolling sound wave quivering to the music. The website is sleek and intuitive and playing around with it is an absolute blast.

Check it out Here

Elpa Music Netlabel

Another simple yet extremely effective netlabel design here. The user is whisked away into this peaceful scenery immediately – rolling green hills and a slightly overcast sky greet the user with six or so small circles floating to the right of the screen, select one and a small rectangle floats in from the left containing further information on releases etc. The design is simple yet very effective and visually pleasing. It really does suit their ‘melodic electronica’ description as the small rectangle changes soft colours as you navigate through the various menus to explore.

Check out the site Here

Modularfield Netlabel

Finally, Modularfield present an interesting case of netlabel design. Interesting in the sense that they have designed their visual appeal based on their namesake, the website is indeed modular with its background constantly reinventing itself depending on where you navigate around the site. The field modulates between cloudy skies, dense rain forest and baron shipping containers – the further you navigate the more landscapes you reveal as they disappear and reappear as the blocks flicker before your eyes. I enjoy the fact that I don’t have to open up any new windows wherever I go on the site, whether it be new releases or a contact page to let them know my thoughts on their label. It is sleek and easy.

Check out the website Here

So why highlight netlabel website design? I think the very fact that netlabels offer music for free to share is amazing in itself – and going the extra mile in refining website design to present something that is appealing, alluring and beautiful takes time. It is worth highlighting the dedicated work by netlabels stepping outside of the comfort zone, pushing the boundaries and creating a much more rich netlabel experience for the users out there.


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  1. August 4, 2011

    I personally think the website of a netlabel should rather focus on cleanliness and accessibility than trying to standout. It’s alright to think of a netlabel as a ‘brand’ and have its website reflects its ‘personality’. But is it alright for it to clash with the user experience and sometimes even with the ‘personality’ of each releases ? Some netlabels have a clean/simple website and catchy ‘special pages’ for some of their releases (what the japanese netlabels Bunkai-Kei Records and Altema Records have been doing comes to mind). This is more beneficial to both the artists and the listeners in my opinion.

  2. hannes
    August 6, 2011

    The first two websites require Flash, which I do not use. So, no music form them for me. This also means that you cannot easily download, can’t use tabs or bookmarks, blind people cannot access the music and eg the Internet Archive cannot save the website.

    The third one might be fancy but it loads very slowly, requires Javascript for accessing the music.

    That is terrible design. Websites should be accessible.

    Some I think are well designed:

  3. Alexander
    August 6, 2011

    It sounds like there is a fine line between what is standout but also accesible. I do enjoy the melodica netlabel design, it is simple and the covers are always beautiful from them – but I personally don’t find anything unique about it in anyway. It may just be up to indivdual preference – I really enjoy interacting with a website and flash design enables this in the examples I have given.

    I guess it depends on how one interprets ‘standout’ – ie. does it stand out because it is exceptionally accessible and easy to use or does it stand out because it is creative and different, and not just have releases listed vertically down a page.

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