Miami Bass History

In December of 2000, a former Miami Bass producer named PappaWheelie founded Miami Bass History.

Why? As PappaWheelie says, “someone needed to defend the genre. Miami Bass had become a joke in the eyes of most who had not grown up with it. But for us who grew up with it, it was clear the genre wasn’t only gimmicks; it also encompassed true innovations. Documenting the innovations was needed.”

The problem was, PappaWheelie was a lone voice in the woods. The initial goal had to be finding those who viewed it from the same perspective, and that proved difficult. In hindsight, it seems so obvious. Those who know the history best are those who created it. By August of 2001, the organization exploded into activity as old school artists such as Dynamix II, DJ Magic Mike, Maggotron, Bass Mekanik, and Trip Theory joined the discussion.

Over the next decade, the group outgrew its platforms. E-Groups led to Yahoo, which landed at Facebook. Once there, the group expanded globally, with separate groups for Português Brasileiro, Japanese, and the collected European community. The group grew from a discussion group, to a collaborative archival project that included thousands of people globally, and finally, a multimedia business.

As the group’s founder puts it, Miami Bass History is not exactly a record label. “While the independent record label industry continues to proclaim itself dead due to digital distribution, the last thing we wanted to do was start an independent record label.” When pressed to explain what Miami Bass History’s business model is, he waxes philosophical. “While I was conducting artist interviews for the book on the history of Miami Bass, I kept getting the same story. Artists felt ripped off by their respective labels. This was the last position I ever wanted Miami Bass History to be viewed from. Instead, I think of MBH as an umbrella that creative types and promoters galvanize under, making it so they don’t have to act as solo competitors for a minor market. We are both the market, and the marketing.”

As a Multimedia Group, Miami Bass History is international, organized in a way that dispatches power and decisions internally. For example, MBH Europe is a partnership to release products for the European market, spearheaded by collaboration between MBH Central and key European members, whereas MBH Brasil is a collaboration between MBH Central and key Brazilian members who understand their market best. As PappaWheelie puts it, “to me, it’s about business models in general. While independent labels and artists continue to look at digital downloads and individual shows as a source of limited income, we simply go with the flow. I feel the download + show concept is similar to marketing tap water. It’s free for most. So instead of looking where the money doesn’t come from, look at the big picture, identify where money does come from, and integrate them. DJ Tom Oliver and Hugo Bassman both know what sells in Brazil, while B-Bart and DJ Overdose understand how the European market is completely different. Partnering with Dockside Records in France makes sense for vinyl sales in the European record collectors’ market, because they understand how Miami Bass fits in there. As for Miami itself, Jimmy “Floorkilla” Mesa holds down homebase, with deep ties to the current scene there. We’re a multimedia organization where the customers are the staff, which causes us to grow and keep members actively creating and purchasing. The larger we grow, the larger the economy of our internal ecosystem grows. “

It seems the concept of advertising dollars and sponsorships providing income over digital downloads may be proving true for PappaWheelie’s organization, but only because the members are free to contribute exactly what is needed for the community itself. PappaWheelie clarifies, “a current indicator of how this ecosystem works is when we grew from producing a handful of syndicated radio shows globally to assisting in the launch of the first 24/7 Miami Bass radio station with MiamiBass.fm, which was built and is directed by MBH admin and veteran radio program director Jerry Pullés. It’s his baby, and he runs it how he sees fit. We’re just wildly proud that something so professional and devoted was developed within our community. Similarly, the Miami Bass History wiki was something developed by MBH member DJ Metafour, who’s done a remarkable job out pure love for the genre and history.”

With SoundChasers developing MBH-TV on the horizon, it continues to be an interesting business model unfolding as the years pass. One that the independent music industry at large will likely be forced to embrace or reject based on its limitations and successes.