VibeDeck, a web service that enables music artists to sell their digital wares directly to their fans for free, announced today that it has raised a $2 million seed round from several U.S. and international investors. The early-stage startup launched in beta just last month and plans to use this round of seed capital to ramp up hiring, expand its marketing efforts, and add functionality to its current feature set.
In its first iteration, VibeDeck aims to improve the transaction experience between artists and fans, enabling the music-makers to enjoy maximum profit margins and forge a deeper relationship with fans. VibeDeck intends to be the simple, easy-to-use, and low cost eCommerce resource for small-to-medium sized bands.
Thus, VibeDeck provides artists with easily customizable landing pages that include basic artist info, images, and an embeddable player. The track player shows a list of tracks and uses 1 single, integrated player, rather than having multiple instances of Flash running. Users can drag and drop tracks to reorder them, or set different background colors for the player, so it looks all snazzy. And, what’s more, VibeDeck also now allows artists to export all of their sales data in one nice, tidy .csv file.
Artists can then connect their VibeDeck account to PayPal in order to receive payments directly from fans when they make a sale. Beyond what transactional fees bands might incur from PayPal, VibeDeck is completely free — and plans to stay that way for the foreseeable future, according to VibeDeck Founder and CEO Lior Shamir.
Obviously, as a free service, VibeDeck will also be using its funding to suss out the best ways to monetize its service, though at this point, Shamir says that the addition of ads is out of the question.
Interestingly, Shamir told me that VibeDeck is first and foremost a software and eCommerce company, focused on the transaction between the buyer and the seller. While ostensibly facing competition from sites like BandCamp, a publishing platform for musicians that offers direct-to-fan music and merchandise sales, the similarities are broad. BandCamp is focused more on hosting bands’ homepages, in an effort to become a sort of digital band manager.
Of course, there are also the awesome Nimbit, which offers direct-to-fan sales, and Sonicbids, the site that aims to help bands get gigs. But, again, these sites are more about career coaching and promotion (respectively). VibeDeck hopes that, by focusing on becoming a cheap eCommerce destination for small bands looking to sell their music and connect with fans, that it can provide what was once (and may still be) the most productive part of MySpace.
Looking ahead, VibeDeck is considering the addition of Facebook and SoundCloud integration, as well as potentially building a player widget that artists can embed on their own websites. The question is, however, if VibeDeck isn’t encouraging bands to use the site as their own homepage, why couldn’t bands just add this functionality to their own sites — and hook in with PayPal? Of course, many small bands don’t have the time or the inclination to do this, but VibeDeck will certainly have to answer a few of these questions as it moves forward.
For now, though, in its incipient form, VibeDeck is looking like a great option for small acts, as it provides a service that is simple, easy-to-use, and it’s cheap. Let us know what you think — and stay tuned for more.