Sounds is an editorial solution to issues of authenticity faced by media professionals in the arts. As its name suggests, the system ensures the quality of the music we cover by removing biases that could influence our selection process.
The traffic-based model common to music publications pressures editors to prioritize song submissions based on the celebrity of the artist in order to maximize clicks. Industry relationships often sway decision making as well. This stacks the odds against deserving artists hoping to reach a wider audience through the media in addition to fans who miss out on discovering new music.
While other news involving famous artists may still appear in Stories, only music chosen by Selector’s blind tastemaker panel is featured in Sounds*. These respected industry professionals vote on submissions after listening to an unlabeled audio clip of each one. As a strict rule, no names or other associations are provided to them at this stage.
Before each release advances forward, the panelists evaluate it only on the following:
The most objective factor in our evaluation of music is production quality. Mixing, mastering and sound design must adhere to a professional standard in order to be considered.
Tracks that explore new storytelling methods have, and always will, push electronic music forward. Trendsetter potential is highly regarded by our panelists, and shortcuts like sample packs can cost a song points.
That being said, music that does a classic story justice holds its own merit. DJ tools play an often unsung role in dance culture, and not every track needs to reinvent the wheel.
Submissions lose points for feeding into the loudness war, relying on overused chord progressions, or resorting to otherwise obvious appeal plays. Taste is why selection is left to the panelists instead of the untrained ears of entry-level music fans.
On the other hand, DJing and remixing culture celebrates artists who pay subtle homage to historic trends. Nostalgic synthesizers or classic vocal samples, when incorporated correctly, can be a way to pay respect where it’s due.
After a release is upvoted enough to be covered, the artist and their affiliations are revealed to the tastemaker panel. At this stage, it can still be disqualified prior to publication based on the following:
Selector will not feature the music of artists known to rely on ghost producers. Hiring out engineers for mixing and mastering will not disqualify a musician, however.
Even if a collaborator is credited in the liner notes of a release, Selector will not feature it if the main artist promotes it as theirs alone. Much of the music released under the “big three” record labels can be disqualified for this reason.
Music from artists found to have violated Selector’s code of ethics will be disqualified. Such behaviors include violence, theft, slander, coercion and hate speech – although our commitment to freedom of speech bars tastemakers from disqualifying an artist based on political beliefs.
￼*Special considerations are sometimes made for BIPOC artists in Selector’s Afrofuturist series as well as “Legacy” artists credited for significant contributions to early electronic music.