Coming off the inward-gazing, empty spectacle of the Grammys, it seems fitting to describe a new venture that falls outside of the the music-biz establishment. It's called CASH Music, and it's headed by some familiar folks in the Portland music scene: Maggie Vail and Jesse Von Doom. The nonprofit launched its Kickstarter campaign on Friday but, amazingly, it seems to have already reached its goal of $30,000, which makes it that much easier for me to tell you about what they're doing without sounding like a shill.
CASH is building open-source tools that independent artists and labels will be able to use—in many cases, for free. "What Wordpress did for bloggers, we're doing for musicians," touts the website. The tools are meant to be simple to use, no technical know-how required, and can be scaled down to any size. There's a reasonably in-depth explanation of the proposal over on the Kickstarter site, but the fundamentals are that the digital tools that have become a mandatory part of any musician's profession—including streaming, downloading, and selling music, posting tour dates, organizing social networks, etc.—should be easy and free to use. The money being raised is going toward the development of CASH's second platform of tools for musicians and labels to use; the first has already seen the light of day, and allows artists and labels to integrate the tools into their existing websites. This second platform—which has reached its funding goal today—will, in Vail's words, "make it crazy easy for anyone to use our tools. There will be no need to even have your own web site."
So, first of all, congrats to CASH on what is one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns I have ever seen—I didn't even need to get on the promotion pony for this one. Second of all, check out their site and take note of what they're doing. It has the potential to make things easier for any number of independent artists, in town and otherwise.