Some time in September (TBA), I'll be playing at the launch concert for Timbredio, a Chicago-born subscriber-based streaming music service focused almost exclusively on independent artists like myself. In my correspondences with Timbredio founder Dominic Go, I asked him how he decided to launch such a daring enterprise. His answer showed me something I'd been suspecting for a long time; You and I aren't the only ones scratching our heads over the American Record Industry. I also suspect he's not the only one we're likely to run into who's focusing on changing the face of it for the better. I've seen many streaming services providing music from independents, but plenty of them require the artists to pay. If you have the dough, you're in, therefore. This, of course, leads to all kinds of music that's not ready for most listeners. That is, the production quality or level of musicianship may not be quite up to par. Now, I'm of the ﬁrm belief that everyone deserves to be heard. I'm also of the ﬁrm belief that one should be absolutely certain their skills will provide the strongest representation of their work and that they ought to put the time and money into giving it the best production value. I've thrown out or not released as many recordings as I've kept or released for these very reasons.
I've collaborated with and/or been involved with many services that hoped to help the independent artist over the years. Most of them fell by the wayside for various reasons. Dominic is certainly into an uphill ﬁght against an overwhelming industry in an eﬀort to be heard by a public that's inundated with completely unﬁltered music available to them. I was reading a brief quote from Warren Buﬀet explaining why he didn't invest in Amazon back in the day. He said he thought it take a miracle for them to succeed and he's not in the habit of investing in miracles. Well, whatever Bezos did to build Amazon, I hope Dominic will tap into, because I'm all about investing in miracles. I've been an independent musician for 30 years, after all. I'm already on their sight. You can go check it out at Timbredio.com
If you're an artist and want in, here's the link: Timbredio: Artist Signup
Here's Dominic's fascinating and practically mathematical break down of the music industry and what led him to found and launch Timbredio.com:
As far as how/why Timbredio came about. Here is a very long winded explanation...
I am a musician. I studied music and when I was younger, I was writing and performing my own work with hopes of becoming the next John Mayer. Unfortunately, after creating a massive pile of student loan debt, I decided to give up my aspirations for doing it professionally because the road was too diﬃcult and the chance of success was too low. I let that part of me die... for a while.
The urge stuck with me and I found other musical outlets, but questions just kept circling my brain. What does it take to make it in music? Is it talent? Can't be. Why do I get pushed the same song 50 times on the radio? Why on the 51st time do I ﬁnally give in and say I kind of it like it no matter what the song is? These led me down into a deeper rabbit hole of more philosophical questions like: Music exists, so it must be valuable, but what makes it valuable? Why are so willing to steal music when stealing a candy bar from your local drugstore is far less frequent? Why are musicians hesitant to charge for their music or services? Why are ticket prices so underpriced when demand is so high? This is merely a subset of the things I was puzzled about in this industry.
These questions led me to a couple of conclusions:
The value in music comes from it's ability to connect with people. It connects us to each other and also to a deeper part of ourselves.
No one has the ability to predict what song will connect with a person in any given moment of their life. (e.g. Dominic on the day his dog dies is very diﬀerent from Dominic on his wedding day or Dominic running a 5k or Dominic studying for a test).
In the time when the giant music industry entities were being created (royalties law, record labels, publishers, distributors, radio companies...), there was no way to predict musical connection nor truly measure it. Thus they built these systems around badly placed incentives like to "get a song played as many times as possible" and to "convince people to like a song". This is not a story of an evil industry doing something malicious, but rather people trying to ﬁt a square peg in a round hole. They new how industry worked for commodities and so they worked to transform music into that... a commodity.
The digital age rocked these establishments and changed the landscape of the industry, but it didn't actually get to the root of the problem. The commoditization of music that comes from a poorly placed and understood monetary
And so, I decided to build a platform leveraging our new technological landscape to ﬁx these problems. I originally called it Busker Radio but I later realized that 'busking' isn't that common in all music genres (e.g. rap, electronic), so I later switched to Timbredio. A combination of the word "timbre" and "radio", it's built on the belief that we all have our own, unique voice, our own voice, our own timbre... and that voice deserves to be heard.
It's a platform for musicians to get their music out there and ﬁnd their tribe, ﬁnd the listeners who really identify with their message. Maybe their following is 10k people or maybe it's 500k people, but I think it's important that everyone have a chance to ﬁnd that tribe rather than having the top 40 pushed onto all 350M of us in the US.
It's a platform for listeners to discover new music that would have otherwise been ﬁltered out by the artiﬁcial opinions of the labels and the radio companies. They can ﬁnd something of real value to them rather than a silence-ﬁller song that they only like after 10 repetitions.
In the end, the fundamental idea is that music pulls together communities, but communities no longer need to be deﬁned by location, age, or ethnicity. These musical communities can be deﬁned by a shared appreciation for the art itself.
**steps oﬀ of soap box**
THERE YOU HAVE IT.
Communities can be deﬁned by a shared appreciation. I like it. I agree. As I look over the music industry and having looked through recent RIAA (Record Industry Association of America) stats, I'm continuing to see the need for these communities to expand and nurture each other. I present to you as many ways as I can, for you to join any version of the music community you'd like and I hope you have or will.
JOIN ME ON PATREON at http://patreon.com/philcircle
I'm still working to get past a nice round number on Patreon. The small community that's come together as patrons of my work through this particular outlet have become a small, but helpful voice in the movement forward of my work. As a result, they'll soon be inﬂuencing the work of others. I'm in the process of lining up everything for the oﬃcial "re-branding" of Guilt By Association Records as a co-op. I founded Guilt By Association to produce my own work, but have also produced various releases for other artists, including students of mine. Right now, I have a couple aspiring indie artists in talks about joining this little label as apprentice partners. By working alongside me, they'll develop the skills needed to survive and thrive as independent artists. Remember, even if someone aspires to sign a major record deal, no label will give them the time of day until they've developed a following and an understanding of the business. So, Guilt By Association Records is being turned into a co-op.
Have a great week and I'll talk to you soon. Peace and the arts, -Phil