The Toucan Music story
The Toucan story goes all the way back to 1994, when founder John wrote his first Psychadelik Pedestrian track by cutting up samples. The track proved popular with his friends and for the next few years John began compiling cassettes of rave music using the name Frantik Records. In October 1997, Frantik went online for the first time and by the beginning of 1998 compilation tapes had been shipped to America and Australia thanks to the Internet. During 1997, the first Frantik logo, nicknamed the "ball logo" (pictured) was first used.
During 1999, John was introduced to the world of MP3 music and, sensing an opportunity to bring his music to a wider audience, signed up to the MP3.com website on 27th December 1999. The first track online was the 1999 remix of Psychadelik Pedestrian's 'Another Boring Lunchtime' - the first seeds of our netlabel were sown!
After only a few weeks on MP3.com it was clear that putting MP3 tracks online was the way forward and, at the beginning of 2000, Frantik launched a new website with a new logo (pictured) to replace the ball logo. By May 2000 all Frantik Music artists - by this time including Redmann and several others - were on the MP3.com and Vitaminic music sites, and by 2001 Hyperterminal's "Seeking You" achieved number 1 status on Vitaminic UK by gaining the most downloads out of any track on the site. By the end of 2002, Frantik Music artists were diversify into producing more varied styles of music. Psychadelik Pedestrian's 'Night Beach' became our first successful chillout track, inspiring other artists to try and emulate this success. Frantik artists held the top four places on the Vitaminic downtempo chart in September 2002.
The Toucan Music netlabel
In Autumn 2003, John decided to change the name of Frantik Music to Toucan Music, a name chosen by Redmann, as the old name no longer reflected the range of styles promoted on the website. At this time, music promotion was still focussed on external websites, MP3.com, Soundclick and Vitaminic. MP3.com closed at the end of December 2003, and Frantik Music became Toucan Music on 1st January 2004, with Toucan continuing to promote on these sites as well as the new Music.Download.com site from its launch on 26 April 2004. Toucan's rebirth as a fully fledged netlabel didn't occur until March 2005 with the launch of a new look website featuring direct downloads for the first time. Earlier tracks, which were already online on other sites, were gradually added to the back catalogue which was hosted by the Internet Archive. Despite the music now being directly available on the website, Toucan continued to promote music on external sites for several years. Vitaminic, one of the most effective music promotion sites for the label, shut its doors in December 2005, while Toucan left Soundclick in 2007. Toucan artists continued to have a presence on Music.Download.com until it closed 2009.
Toucan first produced an end of year mix in 2005, and jumped on the podcasting bandwagon in 2006, with a podcast feed going live to promote the latest tracks. Following the success of this venture, the first feature length podcast mix was released later that year. At the end of 2006, the online shop closed and Toucan stopped selling CDs, leaving the Internet as the only place to get Toucan Music - a truly online label! The Toucan website was relaunched in 2007 with a completely new look and introduced several exciting new features: Creative Commons licences, allowing you to freely use our music, and track and artist searching.
Music licensing for videos and re-use
Toucan continued to diversify, recruiting some innovative guest artists for a variety of releases, including Fioko, Yakoozai, sea.envy, Vibemaster B and more. While some of the stalwarts from Toucan's early days have gone on to bigger things (enter Risey, now better known as a commercial artist by his real name of Ryan Anthony), and some have stopped music production altogether, a few still remain such as Psychadelik Pedestrian and Marc Burt. In 2011, Toucan first started promoting music for use in online videos, a venture which has proved successful with Toucan tracks being featured in over 2,000 YouTube videos by 2013. In 2012, Toucan joined Jamendo Pro, a music licensing website, which allows tracks to be licenced for commercial use, something normally restricted by our Creative Commons licences. This allows the Toucan netlabel to be sustainable, and to continue to give away free music for non-commercial use.
Building on the Toucan heritage promoting music on external websites, Toucan has taken to releasing music simultaneously on several netlabel platforms including the Internet Archive and Sonic Squirrel, and joined the Free Music Archive in 2012. The first album in our Best Bytes compilation series was released on the Free Music Archive in Summer 2012, showcasing some of the highlights from the Toucan back catalogue. The success of this venture led to more volumes, with the series up to volume 4 by 2017. New faces continued to join, with Blastculture bringing a diverse and more minimal electronic sound from 2013 to help keep the releases fresh.
The growth of music streaming in the last decade led to the decline of our singles series, which ended in December 2020 after 15 years. Our new singles series was launched in 2022 with a presence for Toucan on most popular streaming sites, while still providing the traditional free downloads right here on the site. The journey continues...
The Toucan website
The Frantik Records website was launched on 24th October 1997. The site was a very basic affair with three or four pages giving information about artists and tracks. WAV sound clips were added on 11th November 1997. The early website continued in a similar manner for several years, with the whole site being relaunched in Flash in 1999 - a cutting edge technology back then! In early 2000, the whole website was completely overhauled to make it more friendly for search engines and a new Frantik Music logo was introduced. In 2001, Frantik even attempted a brief and unsuccessful attempt to enter the world of ringtones!
The website continued in a similar style when the Toucan Music name was first used in 2004, with the next big change taking place in 2005 when Toucan became a netlabel offering free downloads direct on the site. The Toucan logo was introduced for the first time in summer 2005, and the last remaining element of the original Frantik site - the Guestbook, which had been online since 1997 - was sadly closed in 2006 following a spam problem. A revamped website was launched on 1st January 2007, introducing the tabbed menu for the first time, with minor changes following in 2010 and 2013. The website was refreshed in 2015, following an extensive redesign using Bootstrap to make the code more mobile friendly and support the increasing range of smartphones and tablets now making up a significant portion of our audience. The current site was launched in February 2023, alongside a brand new logo and colour theme.