Every city has its own music industry and popular genres, and thus its very own sound. On 22 October 2009, Vincent Reinders and Gilles De Smit launched 22tracks.com, a website with 22 music genres typical for their Dutch capital. Every genre lists 22 tracks – about an hour and a half of music – all picked by carefully chosen curators: local musicians, journalists, bloggers in the know. The idea was to map the city sound so that visitors to the website could listen to the local music scene in a few mouse clicks.
When DJ and music aficionado Koen Galle heard of the project, he wanted something similar for Brussels. “I got in touch with Vincent and Gilles, but they thought it was too soon for the project to expand.”
But Galle (pictured) didn’t give up. A few months ago, he knocked on their door again and got the green light. “In the meantime I moved from Opwijk [Flemish Brabant] to Brussels, which was a big breakthrough,” Galle says. “I evolved from DJing at my local youth club to joining FM Brussel, where I also choose all the Belgian music they play.” This brought Galle, 28, in touch with larger audiences, and he began performing at Brussels Aperos, among other venues. He met “so many inspiring people, which helped a lot choosing the 22 curators for the Brussels version of 22tracks.com.”
Among the curators you’ll find Studio Brussel’s drum & bass expert DJ Murdoch; responsible for the 22 classic tracks is Flagey’s artistic director Tarquin Billiet. Every week, they add about five new tracks to their genres, adding up to 22 new songs per month. “The curators joined the project as volunteers,” explains Galle. “They do it for the love of music and because they want to share what’s new in their music worlds.”
Besides curating the Belpop and House genre, Galle is also responsible for the legal and administrative part of the site. “You can listen to the tracks but not download them,” he says. “If you want the music, the site directs you to the iTunes store.” Galle makes sure all links are working, manages Facebook and Twitter, deals with technical issues and works to attract advertisers.
London is getting ready to join the project later this year as 22tracks third city. “We’d like to introduce the concept in 22 cities worldwide,” Galle reveals. “But with only two cities on the website, you can already see the striking difference between them. Hiphop lovers, for instance, are served with mainly English rap on the Amsterdam platform, whereas the language in the Brussels’ hip-hop scene is French, and the curators on the site are Moroccan DJs. Amsterdam also has a booming dancehall scene, a genre that’s not as popular over here in Brussels.”
In Amsterdam, 22tracks.com sees between 40,000 and 50,000 visitors a day listening to about 300,000 tracks. The project has won a few prizes and is nominated for a prestigious city cultural award. There are no exact numbers for Brussels yet, but first reactions look promising. Galle is already thinking about the project’s first anniversary:
“We’re planning a big party in June next year. 22tracks.com lovers will soon be able to get their hands on our T-shirts as well. We’ll have them designed by local Brussels artists and plan to sell them for...€22.”