I’ll be the first to admit it, I have been out of the digital music scene for a while. Well, I’m officially back and doing tons of market research, getting ready for next week’s Rethink Music conference in Boston. I’ve discovered a slew of new organizations I can’t wait to learn more about, and a plethora of services and products for musicians I can’t wait to test drive.
Number one on my hit list right now is CASH Music. As profiled in a recent New York Times article, Maggie Vail and Jessie von Doom are in the process of creating what I believe could be a watershed product for independent musicians.
For a long time I’ve been baffled at the lack of decent WordPress templates for bands. That seems like the most reasonable solution for my band — an open-source WordPress theme with a nice admin panel that allows a high level of customization. There are plenty of themes to be bent to the needs of a musician, but none expressly designed for their unique needs.
The team at CASH Music has me losing a lot less sleep these days, having figured, “hey, instead of a theme, let’s just build a WordPress for bands from the ground up. Oh yeah, let’s make it free and open source too.”
Geeks with a bit of web dev knowhow can use the self-installer to get up and running and have a robust set of band-specific web tools at one’s disposal. The admin manages content, CRM, mailing lists, eCommerce and events… so CASH Music gets 10.0 on nailing all the key ingredients of an amazing platform there. These elements elegantly come together as the building blocks of custom web tools that can be implemented by site designers.
This is the most brilliant thing about CASH Music: Not only is it open-source, but the company is nonprofit. When I read this, my head split open and rainbows enthusiastically sprung out. The team had an incredibly successful Kickstarter funding drive that ended in March (they raised over $60,000 — double their goal). These funds will go toward their work on an easy-peazy hosted version for the masses, wisely following the model of WordPress.org.
Keep in mind this is all open source! That means, as a musician, you are seeing 100% of the revenue (well, maybe more like 97% after transactional fees, but still). Musicians the world over are truly fortunate that a talented group of people have taken up the cause to address the problem of lower revenues for artists amidst much more widespread consumption.
I can’t wait to have some time to try out my own install — I’ve been using Bandcamp for our band’s website now for about a year. Perfectly utilitarian, but I do miss having our own unique look and feel that features original content. I certainly couldn’t be more impressed with their combination of ethics and strategic thinking, so it’s time to kick the software tires. Stay tuned for part two.