Disrupting the Music Industry Rhythm

Oct 16th 2016 by Cou Kalantary
Headshot + Disrupting the music industry

There are artists that you’ve never heard of, that are just as good, and sometimes even better, than the ones you hear everywhere. So why aren’t they getting the airtime they deserve? What is it that makes an artist successful, if not their talent?

As an artist myself, I have pondered over this for most of my life. It’s what has led to starting DarwinBeats, and my pledge to improve the music industry.

The music you hear every day is mostly mainstream. And to be fair, the majority of people want to listen to what other people listen to, so it does make sense. But there are at least four problems with that:

1) Extremely talented artists are not getting heard. If even the Beatles were rejected by over 20 labels before making it, then what about all the other artists who eventually give up because they need to get real jobs to pay their rent?

The Quarrymen

2) Most artists are not making money. It takes a heck of a lot of plays to make a living out of your music’s royalties. This really sucks because talented artists are not incentivized to make a career out of music. Making music is nothing more than a hobby for 99.9% of artists, which is ridiculous.

Street Musicians

3) Music junkies are constantly unsatisfied with commercial music. There are those of us that love finding new artists, regardless of how many fans they already have, but the radio is all about repeating songs until everybody’s tired of hearing them (I acknowledge the slight exaggeration but it was needed to make my point).

Keep Calm and Fuck Commercial-Music

4) Unlike music junkies who are always on the lookout for new artists, mainstream audiences don’t know what they’re missing out on. And that’s a problem, too. Back in the day all we had was access to was the music we owned. Even our iPods could only be filled with our own playlists. But now with the internet we have access to so much more. But YouTube, Spotify and the others make it almost impossible for the indie artists to be heard. It’s still saturated with mainstream and top hit playlists.

"Mainstream audiences don't know what they're missing out on"

So how is DarwinBeats supposed to help with any of that? Well first, we’re a music streaming app that ONLY plays music by indie artists. Also, the music is organically curated by the listeners themselves.

App opening

DarwinBeats is comparable to other user-curated platforms like reddit.com, 9gag, or producthunt, but instead of a page to scroll down on, your playlist generates a mix of already vetted songs, as well as a few unrated ones. This allows any artist to reach the top of the charts as long as their music is great (solution to issue 1), and music junkies get an endless supply of fresh music (solution to issue 3).

How has that worked out so far? As of today, our app is still in beta due to us being in bootstrapping mode. We made it available via invites on the iOS App Store, and at the time of this writing we have almost 8,000 artists already registered and uploading their music on the platform. While in beta we’ve already grown to over 6,000 listeners registered, as well as a waiting list (to get on the app) of over 1,500 listeners! (FYI my initial goal was to get 500 artists signed up by the time we were out of beta, and I remember being told by marketing consultants that it was way too optimistic. Few things are as satisfying as proving those people wrong…).

But wait, I haven’t told you about how this will help artists make money yet, which is one of the coolest things about DarwinBeats. There’s a common misconception that people don’t want to pay for music, but that’s not entirely true. Before streaming became a thing, many of us would download music illegally, but then if we loved the music, we would go to the store and buy the album that we already had on our PCs. The only reason we did that was because we wanted to show our support for the artist, no matter how small or big they would be. They deserved to be compensated for their music because we enjoyed it.

If you look at kickstarter, their #1 category for successful campaigns is music. So it’s not so much that people don’t want to pay for music, I suspect it’s more about people not wanting to support a crappy outdated industry that keeps resisting to get on with the times.

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 3.53.52 PM

On DarwinBeats, there are three essential steps to the user experience: First you discover music, some of which you WILL fall in love with. Then you get to play an important role in the artist’s success by listening to their songs, upvoting them, following the artist, and sharing their music with your friends. And finally, if you are a true fan and feel like it’s deserved, you will be able to help the artist through donations, buying their music, or ordering their merchandize (solution to issue 2).

Compare that with the current system, where artists pay money to make their music available on Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Amazon, SoundCloud, etc, but get paid close to nothing in royalties because none of these services are pushing their music to listeners.

"Artists pay money to make their music..."

So DarwinBeats helps indie artists, as well as music junkies, but what about the mainstream audiences? Well, I think if we can offer an experience that’s as good or even better than what’s currently out there, then the sky’s the limit. DarwinBeats is a social network for music, and I won’t stop until it becomes a mainstream trend to discover and show support for the musical underdogs (hopeful solution to issue 4).

If you’re an artist and you want more exposure for your music, head on over to DarwinBeats.com, create your free account, and upload your songs.

If you’re a music junkie and want access to an endless supply of extraordinary indie artists, download our iOS App. We’re currently only on iPhone, but are coming to Android as soon as we can. To be notified as soon we’re on Android, get on our Mailing list right from the DarwinBeats.com Home Page.

Tweet at @DarwinBeats for insights and further discussion of the music industry.