One of the weirdly fascinating things about the music industry, and really the world at large, is how you periodically stumble across really important things that are for some reason kept secret. There’s always a sense of surprise and a weird sort of bliss when you come across one of these things. You could almost compare it to Christmas morning. That’s how I felt when I found out about CASH Music, a new totally free and opensource platform used by everyone from Run The Jewels to Relapse Records. If some of the most hip and happening folks in the industry are using and developing this tool (The team at CASH Music features members of L7 and executives from a few trendy labels) then maybe we here at IMP should be finding out a little bit more.
What’s really interesting to me is that CASH Music is totally free – and from what I understand pretty much everyone on the team is a volunteer. They are using their diverse fields of expertise to bring the music back to its DIY roots and understand that we shouldn’t be doing this for the glory but rather the art itself. They are coming out and helping to create a service that exists for no other reason than to benefit artists. Why? Because if the CASH Music team is to believed (And I think they are) they feel that the artists deserve it. This is not just a product, it’s part of a movement.
Of course – I’m sure a lot of you are trying to figure out what the hell CASH Music actually does. This was a question that took me surprising amount of time to figure out, because as it turns out CASH Music does just about everything and anything in relation to your digital presence. Furthermore my research shows me that it isn’t only easy to use but also extremely attractive. Essentially it functions as a sort of tool to unite all of your social media platforms, webstores and other internet based content. If you update your tour dates on CASH Music it updates them across the board. If you change merch prices on your account, you don’t have to go through and change them on every service you use – rather you have instant updates. It doesn’t just do that though – CASH Music also provides you with valuable tools that go beyond mere unification. It offers you tools to expand your webpresence and mailing list, it gives you suggestions on how to deal with our mailing list and will even help set up some cool DIY marketing opportunities.
This might sound to good to be true. And I don’t want to come across as someone upselling CASH Music to much – because I’m not. While I agree with what it says on their Kickstarter that, “That stuff [Establishing a web presence] isn’t hard. it shouldn’t take a ton of programmer money to make it work, and it’s not even really a business. All those things should be readily available so musicians can spend their money on hiring help where they need it” This is a tool that sets up the foundation – it’s not a completely immersive one (Though it is getting there) and it is not going to suddenly start making you money. What it is going to do though is give you a jumping off point. A place where you can say, “Look, we’re professional and we know what we’re doing” so when the time comes to ask for money maybe you won’t be quite as screwed as you initially might think. Why? Because people take noe when it looks like you have you crap together.
CASH Music stands for a whole lot more than just a jumping of point though. The entire attitude and ethos behind the brand is about independent music, and moreover a revolution. One where there aren’t hidden costs draining you of money, but rather emphasizing what I always do – community, hard work and mutual trust. CASH Music has an open source component too meaning that if you need an extra widget you can just get someone to build it for you. This may not be super evident right off the bat and will require money, but odds are, with such a rapidly growing userbase you could find some people interested in investing with you if nothing else, and figuring out how to pull in money is crucial in this industry.
The point being – CASH Music isn’t just a great service, with a lot of handy features, it is a proof of concept. It is evidence that people in the upper echelons of the independent music world aren’t there to make bands suffer but that they too ‘get it’ and they too want us all to succeed. This isn’t a question of hard work or deserving as much as it is one of realizing that we belong to a community and we need to all bring our skills to the table if we want to succeed. Like I said – CASH Music isn’t the be all and end all of the music industry, and neither is it going to kick off a revolution on its own. What it will do though is prove that the new, more sustainable and smarter model that we are developing towards can happen and will lead to a better future for all of us.