What If DJ Promos Stopped Being Free?
a.k.a. Soma Records is finding out.
Soma Records is one of dance music’s iconic labels. Also known as Soma Quality Recordings, the Glaswegian outpost was founded in 1991 by Slam, Glenn Gibbons and Dave Clarke. (Just FYI, this Dave Clarke is not the legendary UK techno artist.) The label famously released Daft Punk’s earliest material (including the original vinyl version of “Da Funk”), but its catalog contains releases from a litany of heavy hitters, including Felix da Housecat, The Black Dog, Deepchord, Surgeon, Funk D’Void and others too numerous to list.
More than three decades into its run, Soma remains very active, dropping new releases monthly—and sometimes more frequently than that—but just last week, the label announced an interesting decision: starting next month, promos of those releases will be sent out to a lot fewer DJs.
The announcement was sent out via email, and nearly everyone on Soma’s DJ promo received the following message:
We are in the process of replacing our promo list with a paid subscription service. Current subscribers are being offered continued use and access to upfront (at least 2 weeks before release date) Soma releases for £20 per year. If you would like to continue receiving Soma releases please follow the link below to confirm your subscription.
If you sign up, you will receive approximately 150 tracks per year.
The current promo service will cease operation from May 1st 2023 and anyone not signed up by this date will no longer receive promos from Soma Recordings.
In the world of dance music—a world in which the average working DJ receives dozens, if not hundreds, of free promos each week—this was an unusual announcement. Many labels and PR companies these days are striving to make their promo lists as large as possible, but Soma isn’t just cutting its list down; it’s requiring people to pay to be on it. What prompted this decision?
I decided to find out.