Blend, a music collaboration platform used by major electronic producers like Moby and Prefuse 73, has teamed up with independent distributor The Orchard to create a new kind of record label. The partnership will allow users to determine what music makes it into the label’s catalogue via an upvoting system (similar to Facebook “likes”), and will help artists sell their music in major digital stores around the world.
If you’re not familiar with Blend, it can be described as a cloud-based remixing tool that lets multiple users edit songs in real-time. It syncs with Dropbox so that drafts of songs are continuously updated and saved. Some have compared the platform to Ableton Share, which never made it past beta-testing but followed a similar model. Another competitor is Splice, which just drew a major funding round.
It has been an idea that founder and CEO Alex Kolundzija said his team had been tossing around for a while, “but what gave us the confidence to move forward was really the quality of the music on the platform.”
He continued, “We don’t want to put out just anything. There’s so much music that’s there that’s exclusive to the platform. It’s not on iTunes, Spotify, it’s not even on SoundCloud often, we want to give it a bigger stage. For a lot of artists that’s a goal as well, so it just seemed like a logical move.”
Kolundzija said the label will function in a number of ways. As well as more standard releases using its own service for A&R to discover new talent, or working a range of budding-to-established acts on one-off projects, it will also allow its users to have say over what makes it into the label catalogue through its voting mechanisms. While this process is still developing and Kolundzija said he expects it to evolve over time, he gave the example of setting a benchmark where if a track gets 100 likes the label will put it out. He says there are a number of other triggers, based off credibility mechanics they can employ as well.
“We don’t want to be arbiters of taste,” said Kolundzija. “We want to see what’s happening with the platform and if there’s activity around certain projects we want to give those projects a bigger stage and the label and distribution deal allows us to do that. We feel that the quality stuff is going to bubble up based around these network signals and that will sort of validate itself, which is way better than someone deciding that individually.”
While Kolundzija would not state the term between artists and the label yet, he said they are “artist-friendly” and information would soon be available on the Blend website. He also said the formerly invite-only service will now be open to the entire public.
“It’s an interesting space,” he said. “The music industry is really evolving in a very fundamental way, and it’s unclear how this is going to shake out in a couple years but it’s an interesting opportunity to establish a new model, or, rather, the next model. And that’s what we’re really trying to do.”