Getting a successful tech startup off the ground is hard enough, let alone a successful tech startup targeted at musicians. Songwriters and performers are not the wealthiest bunch.
So, I wasn’t surprised when I started clicking the links in this Mashable article from 2006 that lists 26 useful digital services for independent musicians.
Bandbuzz.com has buzzed off.
Bandchemistry.com will “be right back”.
Indistr.com, a company that promised to let “independent artists sell their music directly to the public and the musicians receive 75% of the sale”, is toast. How could they fail with such a catchy URL?
Most of the links end up at 404s, 500s and domain parking pages.
Yes, the internet is littered with the carcasses of digital intermediaries trying to take their ~25% of musicians’ revenue by democratizing the music industry. Kind of makes you wonder which of the over 100 digital products and services currently being marketed to musicians will still be around toward the end of the decade.
The survivors tell a tale of acquiescence and acquisition.
Amie Street was gobbled up by Amazon in a traffic grab in 2010. Before they were absorbed and shut down, the company had a really cool demand-based pricing model whereby the price of a song would increase as downloads increased. Fans could also earn store credit by flagging songs they thought were hits, which aided in discovery and curation. It was all kind of ahead of its time, and I’m not convinced we’ve seen the last of that model. Read about its legacy on Wikipedia.
A couple sites were still up but clearly abandoned. Only two sites seemed to have survived on their own. Unsigned.com is still a free music distribution platform open to any unsigned artist that cares. Artisttopia.com, billed as “the ultimate music experience” is still spinning personalized radio stations for people who have never heard of Pandora.