As an independent artist I don’t think the existing platforms do enough to facilitate the current model of self-promotion.
Music is deeply personal to artist and listener alike. Artists express thought, emotion, and things which can’t be put into words through music. Listeners simultaneously lose, find and discover themselves through music. Connecting the artist to the listener is just a matter of putting the right music in front of the right people at the right time while making sure the artist gets the recognition, appreciation and compensation that they deserve.
Music isn’t a commodity. It isn’t a good or a service. Music is music and it should be treated as such.
That is to say it should be free (as in freedom).
Yes that old hat.
Free to listen.
Free to upload and share with the world.
Free of copyright restrictions.
Free of censorship.
But free don’t pay the bills.
Thankfully, platforms in other industries, namely video games, in particular itch.io, have demonstrated that an independent game developer doesn’t need a marketing budget to be able to make money from their work.
As an artist, you should be able to just upload your work and sell it right away.
bandcamp is awesome.
When I first had this idea (back in 2009) everyone told me I should just use bandcamp for my music. And I finally did in 2020 when I released "Higher Level Things".
All the people I told about it were supportive of the album and a lot of them gave me money (more than I was asking in most cases) and it was an exhilarating feeling.
But without marketing or promoting it myself it was impossible to get any additional sales beyond that first couple of days after I put the album online.
bandcamp does nothing to promote new music. It’s up to listeners to seek out and find music that they want to listen to and follow artists. And listeners won’t do that unless they’re turbonerds about indie music. Most people, myself included, seek out artists that they already know or support their friends and end up just listening to whatever is mainstream or being promoted to them through social media, the web, or IRL.
meanwhile on beatport…
The focus on niche dance music is apparent. Everything is grouped by genre and it’s easy to discover new music. The only thing is you can’t just upload to beatport.
that’s where distrokid comes in.
You can upload your music to distrokid and they put it on every platform that has the listeners you want to reach. For $20/yr your music is thrown into the ring with everyone else including signed artists whose entire career is music.
Someone reached out to me on twitter (and soon thereafter deleted their account) telling me how much they loved A Vague Memory of Paradise after it was featured by a blogger who I submitted the track to (not the entire album because you can’t do that) on submithub.
It means a lot to me when someone listens to my music let alone likes it let alone gives me money for it. It really does. But deep down I get the feeling the process shouldn’t be so hard in this day and age.
What’s missing is the community aspect around niche genres like electronic dance music. And yet such communities exist everywhere you look: discord, reddit, twitter, facebook…
Artists should be able to just upload their music, put a price tag on it and not have to then go begging labels and blogs and everyone they know to go listen to it.
Instead, the community of people who actually like a style of music and are actively looking for it every day (see the neverending barrage of “need new music” tweets) should be presented with what artists are releasing every day and be able to listen and browse through it and if they really want to support the artist they should be able to buy and download it right then and there.
It’s not fair that labels and blogs who are inundated with demos (and can’t or don’t listen or respond to most of it) be the sole gatekeepers of entire genres of music.
I always get told to “put yourself out there” well I have, I’ve tried, and even though yes I’ve gotten some genuine appreciation and that’s increased my self-confidence and self-worth, the return on investment was not worth it.
That’s the sick part of the current system: you put your self out there, 2 people respond, and you’re just supposed to accept that that’s as far as you go. But pay us another $20 and maybe 3 people will respond. And build your brand, build up your portfolio, network with people, live in the moment, do drugs and party till 11AM the next day.
There’s got to be a better way.
soundcloud was supposed to be the savior of the music industry.
Music distribution with social networking. But they didn’t let you actually sell anything directly until soundcloud GO! and the private messaging, comments, and reposts were 99% unwanted spam. I’ve heard people saying soundcloud is dying now and it’s a shame because of what could-have-been.
Imagine soundcloud with a buy button. Upload your track (or album or EP or remix), set a price, and people can listen and share and like and comment and find related tracks.
Instead, you’re supposed to promote your track with soundcloud to all its users and put a buy link in the description.
But people have come to see soundcloud as Free listening and nothing more. I would be surprised if anyone has had any measure of success marketing their music through soundcloud (or how you would even track that statistic…).
People don’t go to soundcloud to find music that they want to buy. For that they go to iTunes or beatport or niche online music shops or a brick-and-mortar storefront.
And as an artist you don’t get to just put your music in these stores you have to go through a label or a service like distrokid and the shops do nothing to promote the music; it’s up to you the artist to promote it through other avenues (such as soundcloud).
I propose a new platform: by artists, for artists. To share not just what they think is polished enough to sell or worth investing the time and effort into promoting and hyping up but also demos and works-in-progress and things they want to get feedback on but don’t want to damage their image, their brand.
And this platform is free listening. No 30-second previews, no ads, no subscriptions. If you find a track you want to keep, it’s available for download and the artist sets the price and gets paid directly.
Now of course the platform has to take a cut of sales in order to cover the cost of hosting all this music. The logistical practical reality of hosting potentially terabytes or petabytes of audio files and the astronomical cost of bandwidth these days would appear to make the platform untenable and unrealistic.
Here’s where we introduce peer-to-peer technology. When the distributed web took off I thought here’s where I’ll find the missing piece of the mind puzzle.
But long story short the solution is bittorrent. The only thing is that artists need to seed in order for anyone to be able to download or listen to it. And people want instant gratification these days, so they don’t want to be waiting for tracks to download before they can listen they want to listen right away.
Here’s a video of it in action because the project is a pain to set up:
NOTE: it takes a while to load because I’m the only peer
When I finally got it working I shared it with a bunch of people who just started uploading copyrighted music and I panicked and pulled the plug and just hung up the idea as an abject failure and let the domain expire.
And I regret it because that domain is $300/yr now.
And then 0dave realized what he had to do. Become the private bittorrent tracker. With payments.
It was radical but it was part of the big picture.
It was the big picture.
What sets this idea apart from everything that’s come before? Peer-to-peer, done legitimately. With no overhead cost, it can be operated by the artists for the listeners directly.
Will anyone go for it? We’ll find out.
The craziest thing we can do is nothing. -day 2023-06-15 1:33:28 AM
But that doesn’t matter because I got my hands on an even better domain that I think describes the concept of what I’m trying to do perfectly: dj.exchange
Announcing dj.exchange. A new music platform by DJs for DJs to Buy, Sell, Listen and Discover new music by Underground Artists.
I’ve been working on the code since I quit my job a month ago and even though I’ve had many, many false starts previously using Ruby on Rails and PHP to build this, we’re doing it for real this time™.
The backend is in Go, frontend is vanilla JS utilizing webcomponents and a few libraries. Parts of this project, codename "Sorbet" were already finished during my last attempt including a microservice named "sorbetière" which processes uploaded audio files and vibrant which extracts prominent colors from images (code is backported from Android).
I also had the "design language" and a bunch of working HTML+CSS+JS in a separate repo called "sirupeuse" that I’ve been pulling from and made scaffolding out this project much easier than starting from scratch.
Here’s a brief demo of what I’ve been cooking up:
Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think.
The songs used in the above video demos are bonus tracks from Deeper Level which was a mixtape album I made in 2021. You can only find them if you purchase the full album on bandcamp.
-day 2023-06-20 12:38:27 AM