CASH Music is a new platform founded by Maggie Vail, formerly of Kill Rock Stars, and Jesse von Doom, currently of the most awesome last name ever. The idea for CASH Music first started germinating when Vail approached von Doom about creating a secure site on which to promo a posthumous Elliot Smith record. Von Doom went above and beyond, according to Vail, and created a site where Vail could keep tabs on which music writers logged into the site and how many times they listened to the tunes.
The duo decided that tools like this should be easy for artists and labels to access, and much less expensive than their current iterations, so they set about creating CASH Music. CASH Music is a kind of widget-maker/app store for bands and labels. In its soon-to-be-completed form, it will allow bands to log into the platform and create tools that they can then add to their websites: tour date modules, social feeds, email collectors, playlists and music stores. Bands will be able to plug all the needed info into forms, and the platform will generate some simple code that they can then add to posts or pages on their websites. Vail and von Doom hope to also integrate with third-party platforms like Soundcloud, Topspin, Mail Chip and Songkick in order to port band info like mailing lists and tour dates easily into the platform. CASH Music is also open-source, which means that developers can customize and design their own widgets, which other bands and individuals can later use.
In addition to making easy tools for bands, the pair is aiming to keep all the power and money in the hands of the artists. First of all, the platform is non-profit, which means that it does not take a cut of album sales, or charge bands for its services. Second of all, “it puts [bands] in control of their web presence,” von Doom says. “This is your data, your promo, it comes through your site, but it takes advantage of other sites.”
With CASH, a band isn’t trapped within one framework, like a Facebook Page. Once a musician creates a widget/tool using CASH Music, he can use that same playlist/tour date module/mailing list collector on another website as well. “The goal for us is to say that you’re not locked into a single platform, but rather you’re control of it, and as long as platforms and services are offering things that are useful to artists, then that’s great, it all works together,” von Doom says.
Right now, you can access CASH Music by downloading and installing a pack of tools to your server, which is not the simplest process. However, thanks to a highly successful Kickstarter campaign (which closes on Friday, by the way), CASH Music will be launching as an easy-to-use website in the fall.
Before turning to Kickstarter for funds, von Doom and Vail tested out more than 160 projects with real bands to make sure they were on the right track. Apparently, they were, as many of those artists went ahead and donated tracks to a digital compilation offered to those who give money via Kickstarter. The collection includes a never-before-heard version of Elliott Smith’s “Needle In The Hay,” as well as an alternate version of Deerhunter’s “Grayscale” and tunes from Zoë Keating, Andrew Bird, Amanda Palmer and The Thermals.