Angst goes in waves, and surely there has been an outpouring of angst about music recently. People want to pay less and less for music, at the same that it’s becoming more and more important to us via portable listening that allows integration of music and daily life with unprecedented ease. However, Soundsupply wants you to pay for music. Granted, it’s 10 albums for 15 dollars, which is less than one CD was going for in the heyday of the big major label. Still, I can guarantee bands get paid better than $0.06, which is what 10 streams on Spotify will get you. If you’re lucky. When you go buy one of Soundsupply’s bimonthly Drops, you’re paying for hand-picked music from the guys who introduced me to The Felix Culpa (Tim and Eric Mortensen ran Common Cloud Records, which released Commitment all those years ago) instead of ripping off bands. I’ll take that every time.
Tim graciously responded to a request for an e-mail interview, where he expounds on how Soundsupply is doing its thing to help out in the crazy world of the new music industry.
1. How did you decide to start Soundsupply?
My brother Eric and I started Soundsupply after closing down the record label we had been running for a few years. We wanted it to be easier for bands to be discovered. The old days of buying an album you picked up in a store simply because you liked the cover art are almost over. Soundsupply is our attempt to bring back music discovery through ownership.
2. How do you find/pick bands for Soundsupply?
A lot of the bands we’ve worked with so far have been friends (or friends of friends), which made it easier to get started. Pitching the idea without any evidence that it would work is less difficult if it’s to someone who has slept on your floor when touring.
We choose bands who have enough similarities that there’s a chance that if you like one of the 10 albums in a Drop, you’d probably like most of them. We like to spotlight hard-working bands who tour a lot and are doing something unique.
3. What’s in the current drop?
Drop 3 is our widest variety of artists so far. We’ve got some more well-known bands like Hellogoodbye, The Dear Hunter, The Get Up Kids and Asobi Seksu. There’s some under the radar bands like The Small Cities, Young Statues and Tall Ships, who all NEED to be heard. We’ve got some heavier stuff like Pianos Become The Teeth. Some lighter stuff with Via Audio. And Gobotron continues a trend from Drop 2 of an album made by a member of Manchester Orchestra. There’s also two amazing, potential bonus EPs by Wildlife Control and Bearcat.
4. What is your payment model for consumers?
We try to keep it simple. You can purchase the Drop for $15 and it comes with both MP3 and FLAC formats, or you can purchase a Year Supply, which is the next 6 Drops (or 60 full length albums) for just $75. With the Year subscription, you also get all Bonus releases included and you can download each Drop a day before it goes on sale to the public.
5. How do bands get paid?
Each bands make an as-large-as-possible cut of the purchase price. It’s definitely a deep discount from their normal gain from an album, but given the quantities we deal with in a 10 day period, it’s a good experience for everyone. The main goal is exposure. Each band gains the chance to get their album in the hands (or iPods) of a bunch of music fans looking to discover their new favorite band.
6. How have the previous drops gone?
The first two Drops went really great. The bands we got to include were all fantastic. The biggest thing for us is the community that is starting to develop around the idea of Soundsupply. Anytime someone comments that they can’t wait for the next Drop or that they’re going to see a band on tour that they discovered through downloading from our site, we feel that we’re accomplishing what we set to do.
7. How do you see this business model working in the future? Do you hope that this will affect the industry at large?
We hope to continue introducing new bands and growing the music community around discovery. Anything that helps an artist get their music out on the internet, while also seeing money in their Paypal account is good progress. If it does anything for the industry, I hope it allows bands to do things on their own and make decisions that are best for their art and their careers. I don’t think we’re setting out to disrupt the industry, but if it happens along the way we wouldn’t hate to see it get better.
8. What’s the most important good trend in music right now (other than Soundsupply)?
I think the best thing lately has been when bands embrace technology. The music industry typically isn’t the first onboard for new and inventive things, so when a band releases an iPhone app or live streams their practices, it’s the fans that win. The access a fan can now have to a band can be almost constant. The artists that harness that are the ones that are going to succeed.
9. What’s the most important bad trend? How do you propose we stop it? (We can be anyone from consumers to bands to labels or beyond)
In my opinion, the toughest trend I’ve seen lately is the disconnection between listening to music and supporting a band. With the amazing things that technology brings, it also makes it easier to be passive towards the artists that are creating the music we listen to everyday. In the past, “liking” a band would mean purchasing their album, buying tickets to see them on tour, making a mix to give to friends. All these very active things. Now, you can experience a band by clicking a link on your cell phone. There’s very little investment on the listener that it sometimes means massive disengagement. The solution is that everyone needs to be more creative. Bands need to work harder to create opportunities for listeners to support them. Music fans should be getting more creative, too. I heard some people the other day talking about taking their most listened to artists on Spotify each month and buying a piece of merch from their website. It’s small, but a start?
10. When are the next Soundsupply drops?
Drops are available every other month. The current Drop will end at midnight EST on June 27th. The next bundle goes live in August.