[UPDATED] I've written about the effects and promise of the digital revolution on musicians and the music industry for almost a decade. But yesterday, separate announcements from Pandora, PledgeMusic and Bandsintown combined to make it the most memorable day in independent music since the launches of CD Baby and Tunecore.
Everything changed for indie musicians the day that Derek Sivers launched CDBaby and empowered them to easily sell music on the web. A similar seismic shift happened when Tunecore launched, eliminating the gatekeepers and enabling quick, easy and affordable digital distribution for any artist on digital music services around the world.
Yesterday felt that important. All on one day:
- AMPcast, a mobile app that allows artists to send free audio messages to their fans among Pandora's 80 million active listeners as they listen. (more)
- Bandsintown added the ability for artists to send free custom messages to their fans amoung the 23 million concertgoers who use the Bandsintown app (more)
- PledgeMusic, already a go-to fan monetization tool for tens of thousands of artists and labels, acquired Noisetrade, the single most effective fan acquisition tool I've ever tested, and Set.fm, a promising startup that enables easy recording and instant monetization of live shows.
Collectively - the ability to directly message both casual and uberfans and to monetize more of those interactions - is a game changer for independent artists and labels, at a time when income from other sources is falling.
Yesterday's collective announcements puts pressure on other music services
YouTube recently bought BandPage and the combined possibilities for D2F commerce are tantalizing. For its part, Spotify has been generous with artist data and opened in-app marketing opportunities via partnerships with Songkick and others. But Spotify could also add voice messaging, even if only in select streams and playlists. And as with iTunes before it, Apple Music has made only selective efforts to enable D2F communications. Fan data on Apple is untouchable.
Admittedly, we've seen this kind of promise go unrealized before. Remember Topspin? And, as Jay Coyle smartly points out, Noisetrade was built on a format that is increasingly unpopular - downloads. I'd add that PledgeMusic, with its reliance on physcial goods, could also face similar challenges.
Despite the hurdles, however, what happened yesterday was important and hopeful.
Three significant players in music tech placed big bets that the future of the new music industry lies in the powerful connection between artists and fans; and those companies that enable that direct connection and then get out of the way, will be the winners.