By now, any musicians or music fans that don't know about NoiseTrade just aren't paying attention. The site has been around since 2006 [2008 official launch] when musician Derek Webb gave away his music in return for some info (name, email, etc...) and has seemingly been growing ever since. Visiting the site today you see big names like Jars Of Clay, Young The Giant, The Rocket Summer, and Andrew Bird just to name a few. The problem is not content, but the fact that NoiseTrade is not on the tip of everyone's tongue.
The barrier to entry has come way down, originally having to tell 3 friends about an artist or "pay what you want" in order to download music, hints trading info for music. The idea being, that info you provided was worth just as much to an artist when they decide to tour, put out merch, or just needed to connect with interested people later on. Fast forward to today and you simply need to give your email address and zip code to get some music. You can still give the band money by tipping them. Originally the "tip" was set at $12, now it's at $6, which I think is much better psychology.
I'd love to see NoiseTrade become a place that every artist has to have a presence, that even if it's only a free "sampler", you can still find music from almost anyone you're looking for. If at all feasible I think NoiseTrade would benefit greatly from getting a huge artist, think U2 or Justin Bieber, to give away their next album on the site. Amazon MP3 pulled a stunt like this when they sold Lady Gaga's full album for just $0.99. Musical taste aside, anyone who had not used Amazon to buy digital music now had the opportunity and reason to try it out. NoiseTrade, in the same way, would give a massive amount of people reason to try free legal music.
Make no mistake, suggesting this isn't about trying to only have free music or to drive the cost of music down. NoiseTrade isn't even interested in giving away music just for the sake of it, they're more interested in helping the independent artist make a living off their music. But the thing that ties all this together is that music discovery is hard. It's hard to get a lot of people interested in sorting through and trying to find new bands, and if there isn't name recognition, the cover art better be amazing. Having millions and millions of regular visitors though means that everyone only has to check out one or two artists for everyone to see the benefits. In addition to pulling a publicity stunt that garners news coverage and word of mouth, I'd love to see a greatly improved discovery mechanism on the site.
Currently the artist can fill in other artists that people may "be fans of". That's a first step, but it's got to be higher visibility and you need to tie "fans of" to other NoiseTrade artists. You like the live album that The Civil Wars are giving away, you're probably going to love the album from Bison. Simple things like that can greatly improve the casual link clicker from only providing an email and zip code. Nintendo was able to turn every senior center across America into a Wii propaganda machine because they focused on people who didn't normally play video games. Everyone likes games in some fashion, they just might not of known they liked video games or that they could like video games. NoiseTrade should be the ones to turn casual radio listeners into music enthusiasts seeking out and finding new independent bands and consequently tipping them a few bucks as they do. Everyone likes music, some just don't know they could like it even more.
Let's not forget that there are people who send their days thinking about these things and to suggest that NoiseTrade needs any help is a bit presumptive to begin with. I merely bring these things up because right now Kickstarter is on every musicians tongue or at least on their mind. Personally I think NoiseTrade should be as well, but there still seems to be some missing ingredient. Not a main piece, just some salt or other spice.