Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 9, 2012.

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We're building a totally free platform of tools for artists and labels to sell, share, and promote music directly to their fans.

Update: COMP!!!

Okay we can finally start talking details on the digital comp that comes with all pledges $10 and over. It's only available until the Kickstarter campaign is over, and will only be given to backers. So don't miss out!

Among the 58+ tracks are a never-before-heard version of Elliott Smith's "Needle In The Hay" featuring trumpet by Eric Matthews, an exclusive alternate version (with vocals) of the rare Deerhunter track Grayscale, and debuts or exclusives from Throwing Muses, The Night Marchers, Zoë Keating, Hurry Up, Hungry Ghost, Brute Heart and more. It's filled out with rarities and live tracks from folks like Andrew Bird, Marketa Irglova, Amanda Palmer, Xiu Xiu, The Cribs, and more. You can see the full artist list in the updates section, but needless to say we're really excited — and thank you to all the artists and labels who helped make it happen!


Update: THANK YOU! / More to come
There are more details about shirts and the comp in our updates (check the tab above) but we wanted to thank all of the people who have pledged so far. With every dollar we're better equipped to build the hosted version of our platform. So please keep telling friends, posting/tweeting this link, and generally being awesome. All money above the original target will be used to make this bigger, better, and faster.

Two weeks ago we were just a handful of people working hard for a project we love. Now thanks to Kickstarter we're over 500 strong and counting, building an open future for musicians together. Thank you.

So first there's the problem we see.Everything starts with musicians, but with all the money around music they're the last to see any. All the musicians we know work so hard just to keep their heads above water.


The whole Internet thing was supposed to make things egalitarian, but it didn't. It's mostly startups with big money and major labels making weird deals and everyone else still working so hard and keeping their heads above water.

Entire companies are being built around the idea that if they can finally make the Internet work for musicians then they can get rich. Some are making things better. Some are making things worse. But they're all doing it backed by millions of dollars on the promise that they'll deliver billions later — and in their world it's consumers (fans) and product (music, more specifically music copyrights.)

So what we did was build a whole lot of things that musicians can use, do it in the open where it's all totally free, and do it as a Nonprofit so Sony can't come along and buy it all up.

Right now there's a solid start. you can use our stuff without any coding to run contests, do email-for-download, connect to places like Tumblr/Twitter, etc. Commerce is just around the corner as well as a ton of other features.  

In a nutshell: that stuff isn't hard. it shouldn't take a ton of programmer money to make it work, and it's not even really a business. All those things should be readily available so musicians can spend their money on hiring help where they need it...and for some that might be fancier programming, for some that might be lawyers, whatever. We just don't think it's right or fair that artists are currently giving 15% to someone who only sets up a digital "buy" button. and that's happening on top of the label cut.

So we've built a lot of it already. We’ve been working on this a long time - building with artists and labels directly.  We want to take all of what we have and remove the set-up, make it work where you just visit a site and set up a free account and you're done. all your data and everything is yours...and should you outgrow it you can take all that data and even the code and run it all on your own server.

The Internet should help artists, not get in their way. But we need an open and nonprofit solution or ultimately all of the best services will just get bought up by someone with ambiguous intentions.  
What we're raising money for:
We're building a totally free platform of tools for artists and labels to sell, share, and promote music directly to their fans. It's something we've been working on for a long time because we feel it's vital that all musicians have access to basic web tools that are free, open, and theirs to own.

We've already released installable tools that can be used to set up social integration, tour listings, email collection, and more. We're in the process of adding more features including commerce and streaming. This development will continue no matter what, but we're using this Kickstarter campaign to fund a hosted version — a nonprofit-run site that would allow access to all these things with zero setup, still free and open-source, but without the need to download and install anything to your server.


The money raised will be used specifically to let us find a little outside programming help, for setting up a more dedicated community site, and for the cost of development specifically focused on a scalable hosted environment. Any overage will be spent directly on building and maintaining this new hosted version of our tools — including connecting to third-party sites, increasing server capacity, support, and new functionality.

Who we are:We're a small staff led by Maggie Vail and Jesse von Doom with key contributors like Jonathan "Duke" Leto and help from organizations like Mozilla's WebFWD. We work directly with musicians and labels to help design the tools we build, always under the guidance of our board:

Dave Allen
Anthony Batt
Jonathan Coulton
Tishaun Dawson
Leslie Hawthorn
Kristin Hersh
Dick Huey
Zoë Keating
Nick Palmacci
Eric Steuer
Tobi Vail
Emily White

And generally with some mix of small children and dogs in tow.

Please note: CASH Music has pending 501(c)(3) status but Kickstarter rewards are not eligible as tax write-offs as they are rewards, not donations.

FAQ

  • We're a nonprofit and everything we build is and will be fully open source. That means we can't be bought by another company, and anyone can build on what we start. Bandcamp's great, but so are open options and additional tools.

    We don't want to see any options like Bandcamp or Topspin disappear — kind of the opposite, actually. We want to push innovation with open and artist-owned options. Think about how much better web browsers are today because Firefox gave a viable open option to Internet Explorer.

    And as a nonprofit we also plan on offering a permanent free option for all artists — we don't want to take yet another percentage. And the portability of data is a big deal. Offering a free and open hosted solution next to the installable platform we're actively releasing means a wide range of possibilities for all artists.

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  • (Fair warning: impossible not to go full-tech on this answer.) Two of our biggest goals are ease of use and ubiquity. So we built the distributed version of the platform as basic PHP 5.2 so it could stand on it's own or play nice with WordPress, Drupal, or any other PHP-based CMS. That means we can focus on a simple setup process, PHP lets it run just about anywhere, and more advanced users are free to incorporate it into their preferred setup. There's a WordPress plugin in the works, and with just a little more progress we'll be able to support a Drupal module as well. The hosted version makes the point largely moot, but not depending on a larger set of dependencies lets us keep the server image lean.

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  • Being a nonprofit changes our scale. Obviously more budget means we will be able to do more things, but without the need for a major exit strategy or the pressures of returning large-scale profits to early investors it means we can run lean.

    This Kickstarter campaign is squarely focused on one specific deliverable: a hosted version of our platform. All features will be available to the world for free as long as you provide a payment account and a storage account. We'll help you through that process, which will mean authorizing your Paypal account and an S3 account — if you can handle signing up for Kickstarter you'll be able to handle setup with us. (And we're looking at payment services like Stripe and Dwolla, other storage options like SoundCloud for audio.) We'll never take a cut of your money unless you volunteer it.

    We see voluntary contributions as a big part of the puzzle. We'll allow people using the service to donate or pledge a percentage of sales back to the organization. We'll even give them a badge so they can brag about it if they like. At some point we may provide an affordable paid tier, but only if we can use our scale to negotiate services that are upgrades not available to individual artists — all functionality itself will remain free for artists forever.

    As a young nonprofit we'll also continue fundraising efforts and look for sponsors to help us keep the organization growing. There are lots of creative opportunities to fund an organization if it has strong community support.

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  • A nonpfrofit is a freestanding entity without an owner, governed by a board and run by a staff chosen to uphold the mission...in this case artist sustainability. That's important because it means there's no owners who can sell the organization or drastically change directions unexpectedly.

    The open-source part is also critical. Our code is out in the open, meaning anyone can help make it better or even use it to create a new project. And no matter what happens in the future everything we're building will be available to artists forever. What that means is that a certain level of technology is guaranteed to be within reach of an artist, and we'll strive to keep raising that level. This is good for businesses as well as artists — startups will be able to focus on true innovation, and labels/managers/publicists will be able to focus on the job not the technology behind it.

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  • Definitely. We won't place any restrictions on the hosted version. A few of the third-party connections might not work in all countries, but we won't put any limitations on things. And while we're not quite ready for translations of the admin yet, they're planned. Every public-facing message can be defined so you can publish in any language — but instructions and interface translations are a little further away.

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1,366
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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    58 backers

    You will be thanked on cashmusic.org as a supporter.

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    636 backers

    Digital compilation featuring member artists and more. Currently 22 tracks and growing fast. Featuring music from The Cribs, The Thermals, The Raincoats, Brendan Benson, and more.

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    412 backers

    CASH Music t-shirt designed by Henry Owings of Chunklet/Indie Cred Test fame. Plus digital comp.

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    116 backers

    Beta access to the platform for your band, your friend's band, or your Mom's band. Plus digital comp.

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    22 backers

    Early access to pre-release streams from our member labels. We'll use our platform to build an exclusive community where members can opt-in to share new music as it gets close to release. Be the first one on your block to hear the latest music. Plus digital comp.

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    Sponsor a file in the development of the platform. You will be visibly thanked in the source code and on a special page in the platform admin. Plus digital comp.

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    25 backers Limited (25 left of 50)

    Thank you boxes from artist & label members. Each box will have vinyl, cds, and merchandise. Plus digital comp.

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    Hour long consultations with 3 CASH board members. See list to the left of who they are. Plus digital comp.

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    Need something faster? You pay to have an element in the platform moved up. Plus digital comp.

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    We will customize and install the distributed platform on your own site. Plus digital comp.

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    Is there something missing from the roadmap? You tell us what to build and we'll make it happen*. Plus digital comp. *if it actually can be built of course

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