Twitter's bass music contingency has been all a-wobble since last Thursday, when Skrillex and the team of OWSLA, his digital-only indie label, started hyping a mysterious new hashtag: #thenest.
It prompted a wide range of replies, from the curious ("What's the Nest??"), to the violent ("Stop retweeting and tell us or I'll murder a ferret"), to the blindly devoted ("I don't even know what it is but I need it in my life"). Now, Billboard is happy to finally put the mystery of The Nest to rest.
Announced today, The Nest is a subscription-based OWSLA imprint, much like a digital fan club. For $12 a month fans will receive all sorts of goodies, both digital and terrestrial, including early access to OWSLA releases, weekly Nest-exclusive downloads from up-and-coming artists, and ticket pre-sales for OWSLA events.
"The Nest is another chance for us to get music out to the fans quicker and easier," said Skrillex in a statement to Billboard. "It's a step into the unknown future of music which is exciting, and it allows us to keep our fans up on fresh content and bring up some new artists we love."
Fans who sign up now on drip.fm/owsla will get OWSLA's 2011 Treats and 2012 Treats, two previously unreleased compilations featuring some of the label's best-known releases. And those who opt-in prior to December 31 will be entered to win a trip to Ultra Music Festival 2013 in Miami, including airfare for two, a hotel stay, and VIP passes.
But the service will officially launch in January, with exclusives including a twitchy, glitchy M Machine remix of "Middle Finger" by Dog Blood (aka Skrillex and Boys Noize), previewed here.
According to Team OWSLA, Nest is a way to break down even more of the ever- decreasing barriers between fan, artist and label, funneling new music directly to an engaged audience, almost in real-time.
"It was really the simplicity of it," says Blaise DeAngelo, OWSLA label manager. "The people we interact with are exposed to so much great music all the time, but there are so many constraints on what we could put out and when. We didn't have enough bandwidth for all the great stuff we wanted to share with the world."
"It lets us move even faster than we do: Find a song and have it posted that day, that hour," says Skrillex's manager, Tim Smith of Blood Company.
And when they say exclusive, they mean exclusive.
"Normally we'd give these tracks to key DJs a week before release," says DeAngelo, "but these are so exclusive, literally the only way you can get them first is through The Nest. It's different from anything we've done before."
Nest subscribers will also receive exclusive remixes, DJ sets, a capellas and remix stems, access to exclusive artist meet-and-greets, live chats and Ustream sessions, and 20% off OWSLA merchandise.
The back-end of Nest is Drip.fm, launched last year by Ghostly International founder Sam Valenti IV and technologist Miguel Senquiz, formerly of Ghostly and tastemaker platform Flavorpill. The service philosophically sits somewhere between subscription streaming and paid downloads, but with a twist of exclusivity that could only work for brands with already strong and loyal fan-bases. Skrillex's extended family of high-profile indie label captains - like Diplo for his Mad Decent, and A-Trak for Fool's Gold - also use the service.
Launched by Skrillex, his management, and media agency Biz3 in August 2011, OWSLA has quickly distinguished itself as more than just a label of drop-based dubstep. New school hip-hop from Jack Beats, lush soundscapes from Seven Lions, electro-soul from Monsta, and Skrillex's own reggae/bass smash-up with Damian Marley all have a home on the label, which co-releases some titles with Big Beat/Atlantic.
"I think kids want to support music and their favorite artists, but technology has not yet given them a vehicle for that that's acceptable to them," says DeAngelo. "To get otherwise-unavailable music directly from the source, the proper version and the format they need, before anywhere else, we feel our fans will pay a reasonable monthly fee."