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Crowdsourcing Music Production Online
August 1, 2016

How Crowdsourcing Will Change the Music Industry Forever

If the Internet provides greater access to resources and like minds, why hasn't it been leveraged to create great music?

There’s no challenging the old adage – “there is power in numbers”.

By leveraging the skills, resources and energy of other people, an individual can do more of anything to accomplish a goal.

This phenomenon has its roots in hunting and warfare and has been utilized peacefully in civic struggles like women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights movement. But as we are solving more problems with the power of numbers, it’s been taking on a different complexion the digital age.

Thanks to digital virtality, the ability to gather specific quantities or qualities of people, with minimal effort, has made waves in not only in political seas but disrupted the way business is done.

The mobile app Uber made transportation a reality for the cash-strapped, the unlicensed, the disabled – whoever – by sourcing drivers to do the job for them. It is genius, digitized. Passengers get to their destination, drivers get paid for their time and Uber takes a cut from the transaction.

Crowdsourcing for the Music industry
Uber is probably the greatest example of how crowdsourcing makes everyone involved better off

Uber is the perfect example of an organization that has perfected the concept of Crowdsourcing. By centralizing the supply and demand for transportation, via smartphones, Uber’s been able to help people move from point A to point B and provide drivers jobs, without anyone assuming the staggering upfront cost of buying a fleet of cabs.

Crowdsourcing’s greatest value is the ability to match the supply where the demand is. In the case of Uber, if someone on the northwest side of town needs a ride, someone on the northwest side with a car gets the job done.

Crowdsourcing’s second greatest value is lowering or even eliminating upfront costs to both the supply and the demand sides. Fewer people need to save up thousands to buy a car and the system to allow drivers to completely write off the cost of their cars if it’s used for Uber purposes.

Crowdsourcing’s History In The Music Industry

When one speaks of digital communication and the internet’s impact on the music industry, almost everyone thinks about piracy. Programs like Napster, Morpheus and KaZaa threw the industry upside down with mp3 file sharing, taking hundreds of millions of dollars out the hands of artists big and small. Metallica, Dr. Dre and Radiohead were some notable acts that took arms to fight these peer-to-peer file sharing services.

These programs gathered music junkies into one place, matched those who demanded a certain type of mp3 with those who had the desired mp3, and did it at zero cost. The music industry was forced to adapt around the mp3 crowdsourcing phenomenon. Nowadays look around, products like Spotify, iTunes, Tidal and Soundcloud bring a similar style of wide-open platforms to gather users to one place, supply their demand and do it at a relatively low cost that pays the artist.

Crowdsourcing in the Music industry
Napster founder and Facebook Executive Sean Parker understood how crowdsourcing would change the way to people listened to music

But all this is a digital crowdsourcing methodology to help people listen to music. If the concept of crowdsourcing is so powerful, where is crowdsourcing to make music?

Crowdsourcing To Create More, Better Music

In the early 1970’s the British rock band The Rolling Stones spent over three years producing their album Exile on Main Street. From countless months of studio recording sessions in England and France, to their engineering and mixing costs in Los Angeles, the band racked up a massive $3 million tab to make the album – which in 2016 would be the equivalent of over $6 million bucks. The cost however was worth it. The album went on to earn unanimous praise from critics and fans alike and sold over 2 million copies.

While today’s elite music acts will gladly pay similar costs to get similar results with their record label’s credit card, less established artists and promising young unknown artists just can’t make these luxuries a reality.

Top acts like Kanye West, Coldplay and Taylor Swift have access to a top-paid A&R team. These teams provide access to the best studio equipment, the best producers, writers and sound engineering. They also provide the best promotion resources with their abilities to create music videos made by Hollywood’s top directors, on state of the art cameras.

Now take a young, talented and unknown vocalist, and imagine them trying to similarly find a producer to compose a song that fits their lyrical style. It would be a time and cost-intensive process. Further, finding a studio recording session, sound engineer and promotion team that could fit within their budget, would also seem next to impossible.

So, in an industry that has proven it can and will adapt around the latest technology trends, why hasn’t anyone applied digital crowdsourcing to help artists gain access to resources and collaborate with others like them?

Social networking platforms are essentially designed to bring people together. Facebook is made to bring friend groups closer. LinkedIn is designed let executives and companies form relationships to make business deals happen. Heck, Tinder was created to give people booty calls. Musicians need a crowdsourcing platform to allow them to meet others in the industry to collaborate and make new music.

Crowdsourcing in the Music Industry
An iconic odd-couple, visual artists Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat collaborated to create work that nobody saw coming

A platform that will help artists find other musicians, producers, engineers and promoters would help revolutionize how tomorrow’s hits will be made.

No longer do artist need to let their art suffer by being constrained to buying/sampling music only within their budget or limited to collaborating with whoever is in their immediate network. Artists shouldould have the freedom to view and listen to the samples of other artists and choose those who would best match their artistic vision, exactly how award winning artists like Kanye West or Jay-Z do for themselves.

The quality of music produced from such a concept would be outstanding.

Thinking ahead, a music crowdsourcing platform could also provide a cost-effective way for promoting the new music created from this collaboration. By allowing graphic artists, photographers, videographers, directors and even club promoters access to the platform, artists could further collaborate and produce album art, hats/t-shirts, music videos and formulate tours right from the platform.

All the spoils, without requiring a record-label contract footing the bill.

Crowdsourcing has done wonders for other industries to create value that never existed before, in both quality and quantity. It’s time to create more great music.

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