It’s always been one of the biggest difficulties for an independent musician: how to get their music heard by ‘important people.’ Influencers. Industry people. Celebrities. Bloggers. Radio DJs. Music supervisors. Promoters. Booking agents. Managers. Labels.
The issue has always been, these important people, let’s call them Influencers, get inundated with unsolicited music on a daily (hourly) basis. There’s no way these Influencers could possibly get to all of the music and the few they pull out of the pile to sample, usually suck. It only reinforces their policy of rejecting all unsolicited music.
But what if there was a financial incentive for these Influencers to listen to the music that came through the door?
Fluence is a new service, co-founded by one of the co-founders of Topspin, Shamal Ranasinghe, and William White, CTO of Fluence and former employee of Yahoo! Music and AOL.
Fluence connects artists (they call them “promoters”) with “curators.” Why they chose “curators” and not “influencers” eludes me. Probably to encourage curation of the submitted songs. Or maybe they are energy curators. Or maybe because curator is a fancier word. But moving on.
Promoters can send a song or music video to a Curator as an “audition.” The Curator sets an hourly rate and earns the fraction of that rate based on the length of the song. So if a Curator’s rate is $500 an hour and a song is 3:00 long, that Curator would earn $25 (if she listened all the way through). Part of Fluence’s technology tracks how long the Curator listened to (or watched) the song (or video) and pays out accordingly.
Update: Promoters see cost per minute (NOT by hour). Curators set a cost per hour. This is very confusing and should be updated. Most Curators charge about $1-3 a minute.
Promoters can browse Curators to find the Curator that makes the most sense for their style of music. A metal band should not submit to a Radio DJ with an acoustic program. Similarly, a singer/songwriter should not submit to a blogger who exclusively reviews EDM.
Every Curator’s profile explicitly lists what she is interested in and her places of expertise.
Curator’s are encouraged to leave feedback on the submitted song or video. Feedback can be anything from a single sentence, immediate reaction statement, to (my approach) a full-fledged song review with specific areas to improve. Promoters then rate the feedback on usefulness.
“While I was at Topspin, it was really hard to see these incredible artists who should be playing and selling to audiences 10 times what they had,” Shamal Ranasinghe, Co-founder, Fluence
I’m a new Curator on Fluence (as is fellow DMN writer Nina Ulloa) and have listened to and reviewed a couple songs to try the platform out. I spent much more time on my critiques (feedback) than I was paid for which is something that Fluence doesn’t make clear initially in their payment structure. The only way to actually be properly paid for the time spent is to jack the hourly rate up to a level that makes sense. If the song is 3 minutes long, I may listen 3-4 times and then spend 45 minutes writing the critique. I feel a little funny setting my rate as “$500 an hour” just to make the actual hour I spend on the song worth my time (working out to about $25). A clearer pricing structure would remove the hourly rate and just have Curators set a “cost per minute” – exactly what Promoters would see.
Fluence charges Promoters the Curator’s rate plus Fluence’s 20% cut. So if a Curator’s rate is $200 an hour, the Promoter would be charged $240 an hour (or rather that rate divided by the length of their song) and the Curator would be paid their full rate.
Update 11/22/14 – Most Curators charge about $1-3 a minute.
Some artists located thousands of miles away from LA, NYC, Nashville or London are currently using Fluence to get industry professionals to give them guidance and honest feedback on new songs, demos or official tracks. Startups have used Fluence to get the word out about their product videos. Others are using Fluence to get ‘important people’ out to shows.
Jay Frank, band manager and Future Hit DNA blogger, used Fluence to submit music to influencers in cities on his bands’ tours. Frank mentioned that his showcases were packed and they received positive blog coverage and that “several music supervisors have expressed interest in placing the music as well. ”
Fluence is a valuable new platform that gives musicians a direct line to some of the most influential movers and shakers of the industry.
Are you killing it in your home town, but unable to gain traction amongst the greater industry? This is a way to reach the industry. This is something I would have loved when I was in Minneapolis selling out 800 cap clubs, but had zero ties to any industry people.
Ranasinghe highlighted a relationship made via Fluence between the producer/engineer/DJ Brian Hazard and a 15 year old, Nick O’Brien, living thousands of miles away. Hazard liked O’Brien’s work so much that he actually asked him to remix one of Hazard’s tracks for his upcoming record.
Fluence is still very new (officially launched in Beta on October 28th), but over 700 Curators are already on the platform.
Curators must be approved or invited by a fellow curator. They can request an invite here.
Curators can submit their material to other Curators as well – fostering a respectful community of fellow artists and influencers. I’ll probably try this with my new album.
Any artist/promoter can sign up here.