Fandalism, a social network for musicians, is adding a new feature that should undercut the market for “aggregators” like CD Baby and Tunecore (which allow independent artists to sell their music on iTunes and other digital stores).
To do that, founder Philip Kaplan (who also founded the FuckedCompany blog and ad network AdBrite, as well as co-founding social shopping startup Blippy) is offering a free song upload to iTunes, and unlimited uploads to iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play for $19.99 per year. That’s significantly cheaper than most other services, he said — for example, Tunecore charges $29.99 per album per year, while CD Baby charges $49 per album and takes a cut of earnings.
Those fees don’t seem like an enormous amount of money, but Kaplan said it’s still a risk for the musician, and one that they shouldn’t be taking. Fundamentally, he argued that the aggregation business is “a commodity.” He doesn’t see it as a serious moneymaker for Fandalism, but instead as a way to attract new members for social network (you need to be a member to participate in the music distribution program), which he described as “my true business.” Plus, he said he likes the idea of “causing trouble” for an existing industry. In fact, the main reason he’s charging anything at all is just to convince musicians that it isn’t a scam.
So how is the business side of Fandalism going? Well, aside from the distribution feature, Kaplan isn’t actually making money yet. Instead, he’s focused on building “a database of every musician on the planet.”
When he showed me the site last year, he was already off to a good start, with 330,000 members around the world. Now he said that number is up to 550,000, and those members are pretty active, uploading 1,000 videos per day, providing 20,000 “props” (the Fandalism version of a “like”) and 3,500 comments. It’s becoming a real-world community too — a few months ago, Kaplan organized a meet-up in New York’s Washington Square Park and 400 people showed up, as you can see in the video below.
At some point, Fandalism will probably become a large enough that it will be valuable to advertisers like instrument manufacturers: “I’m not sure what that point is, but we’re not there yet,” Kaplan said.
He plans to start allowing uploads in the next day or so. In the meantime, musicians can sign up for the wait list here.