Fans of the streaming music site Boiler Room have seen performances from folks like James Murphy, Thom Yorke, A-Trak, Animal Collective and Sun Araw. Founded in 2010 by promoter Blaise Belville, the site first started in London, but this month Boiler Room arrived in Los Angeles.
In Europe, Boiler Room already has a loyal fanbase of mostly artists and journalists, who comment on performances as they're happening in the site's chat room. Averaging over 300,000 live viewers monthly, the site has indirectly evolved in to something of a vetting pool for up-and-coming artists. Producers like Blawan and Lunice have had several flawless sets in the past year and the buzz from the chat room has spread to the rest of the web. On the flip side, it's the last place you want to be when your set isn't going well, as even James Blake wasn't spared from cries of “amateur” after a shaky DJ set last year.
Boiler Room owes part of its popularity in the U.S. to collaborations with major festivals and events like SXSW and MOMA's PS1 series in New York, where they've had the privilege of breaking Clams Casino, Jamie XX and SBTRKT relatively early.
At the first official L.A. event last week, My Hollow Drum curated a lineup that included Nosaj Thing, the Gaslamp Killer, Co.Fee, p.Lo, Frosty, Free The Robots, and the debut of the new Prefuse 73/Teebs collaboration Sons of the Morning. Two smaller events hosted by Stones Throw and The Gaslamp Killer have already been held in L.A. and the same spirit that made Boiler Room popular in the UK is still very much alive. The small crowd at last week's event consisted of about 150 people, mostly DJ's, producers and rappers themselves.
The goal for the L.A. events, which stream every other Tuesday, is for Boiler Room to expose local up-and-coming artists. “The exposure that artists get from Boiler Room is huge, but we want to make it a global thing,” explains Sofie Fatouretchi, Boiler Room's local promoter. “We don't want it to be exactly like the one in London or the one in Berlin because we want it to have that local credibility and have it grow as the scene grows here.”
For the average fan, however, getting in to Boiler Room might prove to be difficult. Every event is invite-only and held at an undisclosed location. The rule isn't without good reason though. It's meant to foster an artist-friendly atmosphere, free of gawkers snapping cell phone photos and talking through sets. “There's a better dynamic when you bring a bunch of artists together that all know each other,” says Fatouretchi. “It's not just about the party. It should be about the music.”