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." Promoters pay Curators a price per minute (which the Curator sets).
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. I take my critiques very seriously and don't hold back. Luckily the two bands I've reviewed have rated me positively (even though my feedback wasn't completely glowing - but I guess it was helpful!)
"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 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, but it's important to me to give artist's the kind of feedback I'd want to get if I submitted my music to someone.
Fluence charges Promoters the Curator's rate plus Fluence's 20% cut. So if a Curator's rate is $1 a minute, the Promoter would be charged $1.20 a minute and the Curator would be paid their full rate. Part of Fluence’s technology tracks how long the Curator listened to (or watched) the song (or video) and pays out accordingly.
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.
Other companies, like Taxi, MusicXray and Sonicbids, have a similar model in that they charge artists to submit music for opportunities or for review. The biggest difference is that on Fluence you know exactly who you are submitting to and who the person is that is reviewing your music. On Taxi, for instance, the critique you get is from a faceless Taxi employee who may or may not be into your kind of music. Fluence doesn't promise or promote any concrete opportunities. They encourage relationship building.
There are some pretty impressive Curators currently on Fluence including bloggers, radio DJs, music supervisors and musicians.
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.