Every week seems to bring new stories of more unanticipated ways that technology is making life harder for musicians. And in the future, it’s possible that things could take a truly dystopian turn, with Spotify already allegedly creating fake artists (with names like ‘Benny Treskow’ and ‘Mbo Mentho’.) This generates made-to-order blandness for their most popular playlists and allows them to avoid paying royalties to real performers.
We all know that tech is making things tough for musicians. However, what’s rarely discussed are the platforms that have emerged to help solve the issues that modern musicians face — the most pressing of which remains making a sustainable income. So we’ve done our research and found the best 5 apps to help musicians make money on the side:
If you thought being a creative type meant that you could avoid ever having to learn what the blockchain is — you were wrong. Musicoin is the name of a streaming platform that uses the transparency of the blockchain ledger system to streamline the process of musical revenue generation and distribution, as well as being a currency designed for paying artists directly and instantly. Confused? You’re not the only one. Put simply, the company promises “100% free streaming for listeners, industry best compensation for musicians” by eliminating the need for intermediaries between artists and their fans.
The nitty gritty of exactly how this works aside, you don’t need any technical knowledge to use the platform. All you have to do is get yourself verified as a professional musician on the site, upload your music and design your licensing agreement. And then, hopefully, the streams will start to flow.
Encore and Fat Llama
Uber brought the sharing economy to transport, and Airbnb brought it to travel: Now Encore and Fat Llama are great platforms that are doing the same for the music industry.
Encore connects musicians with event organizers (who can compare quotes, reviews and videos, and then book an act through the site.)
In contrast Fat Llama is an online marketplace for lending and borrowing (almost) anything. Need a musical instrument or piece of equipment? Fat Llama has everything from keyboards to omnichords, double basses to didgeridoos.
Nuno Oliveira, a session drummer (and member of bands Canoe Duo and RESET), uses both sites. He explains: “I use Encore because it’s a great way to get booked for gigs, speak directly with the customer and have all of the fees and gig details at the ready and organised. I use Fat Llama because it’s a fantastic way of getting stuff done, without having to buy certain products that would otherwise be a big investment.”
If you’re looking for royalty-free music for a media project, use Artisound and you can rest assured that the artist will be paid a fair 50%, regardless of the processes and costs involved. The site was created by musician Yann Ireland with the aim of bringing a more personal touch to a marketplace increasingly driven by algorithms, and he personally selects each of the tracks that go into the Artisound catalogue. You submit your tracks for Yann to review — although be warned that not all music makes it through!
Vinyl might not be the most obvious moneymaking asset for the modern musician, but Tokyo-based Qrates are using tech to bring vinyl into the 21st century by connecting it with music lovers on demand. The site is set up to empower artists, who can use the platform to either take pledges for a crowdfunding project or take preorders for a record that’s ready to ship; artists are also given direct access to backers and customers, as well as the Qrates support team. Simply upload your audio, design a label, and Qrates will take care of pressing and delivering the disc.