In the hyper competitive business world of music, money talks. That can put starting starving artists with a limited budget at a major disadvantage.
Noah Itman believes that a musician’s exposure should be driven by quality, not dollar bills. That belief is at the core of ItMusic, a new online music platform that launched out of Minneapolis in February.
“We don’t believe in, nor do we support, the pay-to-play system,” says co founder Ryan O’Connell, who hopped aboard with the startup early on. “Our site is all based off meritocracy.”
This is accomplished through a prevalent social component. At a glance, ItMusic might seem quite similar to sites like SoundCloud and BandCamp, which are also vehicles for independent artists to spread their songs. But ItMusic is actually a robust social network, with a news feed, a profile page for each user, a private messaging system and all the other basic functions of a site like Facebook.
The music becomes featured by being voted up by its users, a la Reddit.
The other unique aspect of ItMusic is that the company doesn’t skim a penny out of artists’ proceeds from selling their music on the site. In this sense, the platform is very musician-friendly, and the hope is that this will make it an attractive destination for creators.
Another big draw is a streaming player that is far more powerful than almost any other on the Web.
Still in its early stages, the ItMusic site currently has close to 2000 registered users, and O’Connell estimates that around three-quarters of those accounts belong to musical artists.
The company raised around $200,000 in investments but hasn’t yet begun to earn revenue; there is also an Idiegogo fundraising campaign underway.
“We’re trying to make it useful and get people there it before worrying about monetizing,” says O’Connell, adding that the plan is to make money off non-intrusive ads, but “never off the artists.”
It’s a noble ambition, but will it work? The site’s founders know the challenge they’re facing, and right now they are solely focused on building their user base and spreading the word.
“The thing that’s going to really do it is developing an on-site community, getting people to interact and share,” McConnell says. “Exposure is what we need to get to the next level.”
In that respect, the guys behind ItMusic can certainly relate to the artists that their platform is built to support.