As we’ve just finished our first EP, Last Place Aversion, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to promote it online. There are a glut of options, few of which seem crucial or outstanding. Bandcamp is a great service, but the site doesn’t generate its own traffic like a social networking service does. Facebook is great for getting your friends onboard and making it easy for fans to get news, but their music player and store implementation is subpar. Maybe that’s improving, but we were so turned off by ReverbNation that we don’t even have a Facebook band page right now. That’s probably something we’ll look into again soon, keeping an eye on how well it integrates with everything else we’re doing online.
There are services like CD Baby that seem great for getting your music onto iTunes and Amazon.com, but for a indie band who wants to watch traffic and sales as they happen, that’s handing power back to a distribution chain.
That’s why we opted to focus our attention on WordPress and Bandcamp, because we can track everything ourselves. Searches, incoming links, individual sales in real-time, etc. That being said, this site and our Bandcamp page are like two islands. Getting the occasional incoming link or Google hit is good but it’s not good enough. It would be great to have a site with the power and customizability of a WordPress blog and one that’s part of a larger community of bands and fans. MySpace was somewhere close a few years ago before they started eating acid and trying to crawl into Kanye West videos, or whatever.
If I were a web developer (damn you, music school) I would make a site like this myself — one where bands could sell mp3s and physical merchandise, post show dates and tour diaries, communicate directly with one another, and most importantly promote each other. Bands, industry, and fans could talk music without the specter of wedding photos or buggy flash code.
So today I was a little psyched to see that Dave Allen had posted about an organization named CASH Music that is working on an open source platform for musicians to share their music online. It’s still in development, but it looks like a promising step in the right direction.
We’re building a free and open platform that gives musicians and labels a no-programming environment for music tech online. You download it, the platform works with your website, integrates with what you’ve got, and will play nice with services like Amazon, PayPal, Twitter, MailChimp, and more.
Whoever can wrangle all this energy into one place stands to gain a lot of loyalty from musicians and fans, and to maintain that loyalty they need to do it without trading away the musicians’ best interests. CASH Music introduces itself with terms like “open source” and “nonprofit”, and that bodes well. It makes me optimistic to see a group of developers and forward-thinking music industry players trying to tame the West that is online music distribution and doing it with an eye on the interests of independent musicians.