Back Porch Group is a new think tank for the music industry that claims to tell the "unvarnished truth." They're off to a strong start with their first blog post taking the stance that music tech companies aren't serving musicians who are scraping by on low-paying day jobs while trying to build careers in music. I, of course, beg to differ.
Back Porch Group, composed of Shawn Yeager, Brian Rawlings and Mike Fabio, describes themselves as a "think tank that offers insight, connections and development to creators and disruptive companies building the new music industry."
Back Porch Group takes a clear stance about their mission which they define as being:
"part of the solution...a group of smart, passionate people with a desire to reconfigure the music industry in a way that makes sense for fans, bands and those that connect them in meaningful, sustainable ways."
In the first blog post on their new site, Brian Rawlings puts forth an argument that I found a bit startling regarding the current state of music tech tools for DIY artists on a budget.
Rawlings maintains there are no music tech tools for impoverished musicians:
"There are tools galore and some of them actually work, but the old music biz establishment seems to think these are transitional processes that will one day return them to the glory daze of selling product at a high margin to cover the inconceivably high costs of their creative mistakes..."
"The music tech community mostly creates complex overreaching 'solutions' that are lost in a world somewhere between 'free music for all' and 'getting their piece of the pie'..."
"So what we have now is a slate of tools that would have worked perfectly for Lady GaGa if they had been around when she broke out (her numbers look really good in pro forma docs) but they do little for the 'next' big artists."
I asked for some clarification, stating that I viewed a pricing range for poor artists running from $0 to $10 a month.
Rawlings' response included the following:
"I think the pricing questions for music tech and 'poor' musicians is as much philosophical as it is practical. Each offering has to be reviewed on the cost/benefit curve like any business. The problem we face philosophically is that nearly all of the potential clients for music tech products start out below the poverty level. This is the nature of a fledgling musician."
"The 0-10 dollar concept is great except that it's too broad. You can't include $0 in a curve without changing the conversation and 10 bucks is a big spend for a guy that delivers pizza and plays in a rock band, UNLESS he can clearly see the 10 bucks coming back THIS MONTH! I think we should consider looking for new workable ad based solutions that are customized to DIY artists. Tech gave up too soon on ad based models because of the need for pre-market valuations..."
"In conclusion, pricing models are built on demand, sensitivity and competition (for the most part). Unfortunately we are in an anomaly based industry that can't realistically define these data points, so the price point is ZERO with a premium option for the odd lucky bands that make a couple of bucks.
In both the blog post and in Rawlings response I find points with which to agree but I think there are actually quite a few music tech tools using what I would consider freemium pricing for DIY musicians. Such tools offer basic features for free with additional features and services at various price points.
I failed to ask but am assuming that Brian Rawlings and Back Porch Group are excluding such free tools as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr and Wordpress.com since they aren't specifically focused on music tech. That's a problematic exclusion given that they would top the list of tools for impoverished musicians and all get a boost from their use by musicians but let's concede that point for the moment.
Here are some outstanding freemium tools for impoverished DIY musicians that I would categorize as straight-up music tech. They include services that do charge you but only as a percentage of actual revenue.
Music Tech Tools for the Improverished Musician
SoundCloud - audio posting and sharing
PledgeMusic - D2F funding campaigns and preordering
Adva Mobile - mobile apps for musicians
Audiosocket - indie music licensing
CASH Music - open source promo and sales tools
StoryAmp - promo to the press
Closely Related to Music Tech
BitTorrent's SoShare - large file delivery and download
That's just a quick list of obvious contenders. There are a great number of awesome companies left out, many just as good as the above, but it does clarify that there are definitely lots of free options for impoverished musicians.
Feel free to add more in the comments.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.