Dave Sitek's Federal Prism Label Announces New Model For Releasing Music

Dave Sitek

Federal Prism, the new record label from TV On The Radio‘s Dave Sitek and his partner Jeff Bowers, is trying a new approach to releasing music.

It’s become clear in recent years that where mass marketing was once the name of the game in the music biz, direct fan engagement is now the holy grail for artists and those labels interested in building careers. But how best to make that connection?

Federal Prism’s answer is thorough online interaction with fans. New music from their roster will now be released on SoundCloud prior to any retail release. Going even further, the label will offer select track stems (essentially deconstructed pieces of songs) for fans and other artists to hear and remix.

“The goal here is to allow listeners to participate fully in the creative and marketing process, in many cases prior to the commercial release,” said Bowers. “SoundCloud gives us an opportunity to break albums and singles with a completely new engagement strategy. Young producers and fans will have access to new music before it’s proper release, but more importantly they will have a unique opportunity to reinvent the track and interact directly with the producer and artist while doing so.”

Head over to their SoundCloud page starting today for the first such releases, including music from TV On The Radio, Oh Land, Chuck Inglish, Asher Roth, and more. And look for new releases soon from Sitek, Kelis, Scarlett Johansson, Stardeath, and the White Dwarves.

Stream Thrice's Live Album – "Anthology"

Still heartbroken about Thrice breaking up? Well don’t you worry. They understand, and just to show how much they care, they’ve put together a 24-song collection of select live recordings from their farewell tour. The limited edition physical 4-LP/2-CD box set is set to be released next week on October 30 by Staple Records, but you can hear it right now streaming on SoundCloud! So grab your buddies and some tissues, sit back, and enjoy the final recordings of Thrice as you weep for the demise of one of our generations greatest bands. (Suck it up. There’s probably gonna be a reunion anyway.)

If you like Thrice, then you might also like OurStage’s own This Armistice.

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SoundCloud And Twitter Team Up

Earlier this week, Twitter increased the number of partners who could take advantage of their Expanded Tweets function, which allows users to view photos, play videos, preview a story, and even listen to audio right from their timeline. YouTube and Instagram have been integrated for some time now, but this recent batch of partners is notable as SoundCloud is the only music-streaming site.

SoundCloud integration will embed the ubiquitous HTML5 waveform player into twitter cards, giving users the ability to play, like, and share music without ever leaving the Twitterverse.

“Partnering with Twitter for this rollout allowed us to create a richer experience for our users […] Overall, we’re super excited that SoundCloud can unmute tweets,” SoundCloud founder and CEO Alexander Ljung told Rolling Stone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Industrial Revolution: MySpace – The End Is Nigh

Oh MySpace. I don’t think I need to delve into your sad story because it’s a familiar tale. Even if you don’t know the details of the rise and fall of the Internet’s first smash hit social media site, you still know the story”assuming you studied ancient Rome in grade school or have watched literally any rock bio-pic film ever made. Humble beginnings, spectacular rise, crucial missteps, steep decline, public shame, optional drug overdose, likely death.

The ending is yet to be determined, of course, but demise seems inevitable. The prescient 24/7 Wall St. blog has released their yearly Ten Brands That Will Disappear list for 2012, and while the inclusion of such stalwarts as Sears and Kellogg’s Corn Pops might surprise many, the appearance of MySpace is no shock. But it is the first official time-of-death call, and it’s from an observer with a pretty good track record of predicting these things (for example, the disappearance of both T-Mobile and Blockbuster). Their summary is concise and worth excerpting in full:

MySpace, once the world’s largest social network, died a long time ago. It will get buried soon. News Corp (NYSE: NWS) bought MySpace and its parent in 2005 for $580 million which was considered inexpensive at the time based on the web property’s size. MySpace held the top spot among social networks based on visitors from mid-2006 until mid-2008 according to several online research services. It was overtaken by Facebook at that point. Facebook has 700 million members worldwide now and recently passed Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) as the largest website for display advertising based on revenue. News Corp was able to get an exclusive advertising deal worth $900 million shortly after it bought the property, but that was its sales high-water mark. Its audience is currently estimated to be less that 20 million visitors in the US. Why did MySpace fall so far behind Facebook? No one knows for certain. It may be that Facebook had more attractive features for people who wanted to share their identities online. It may have been that it appealed to a younger audience which tends to spend more time online. News Corp announced in February that it would sell MySpace. There were no serious bids. Rumors surfaced recently that a buyer may take the website for $100 million. The brand is worth little if anything. A buyer is likely to kill the name and fold the subscriber base into another brand. News Corp has hinted it will close MySpace if it does not find a buyer.

Indeed, just one buyer remains a possibility at present, and that is the Chairman and CEO of Activision, Bobby Kotick, who heads an investor group interested in having a stake in the company, rather than purchasing it in full (theoretically, News Corp would retain 20%). Word is that even if this investment somehow goes through, it ain’t gonna be for no $100 million. [Late-breaking update: Sure enough, News Corp. has reportedly made a deal to MySpace for $35 million to Specific Media. News Corp. is expected to retain a 5% stake.]


What happened to MySpace? It really is hard to say. The first thing that springs to mind is the lack of a communal space (Facebook’s Wall) that allowed users to really feel connected to their friends. Then came the deluge of users and spammers, who were eagerly accepted as friends in order to raise that number. In that way, MySpace was a learning environment, which informed our later behavior on Facebook. We knew, by then, to be more selective, and that the number of friends you had really didn’t matter at all. Without MySpace, all those mistakes would have occurred on Facebook, which would now resemble the gaudy wasteland of MySpace (damn you, layout wizards!).

For many of us, MySpace was attractive as a music discovery site. But unfortunately the music on MySpace sounded like shit, due to their standard low-bit-rate streaming MP3s. When MySpace began to accept that they had lost the social media game to Facebook, they tried to re-focus on just music. But they had blown their credibility on that front, and many other, less tainted and cluttered sites had filled any void left by Facebook’s (initial) lack of interest in catering to music fans (Soundcloud and Bandcamp being the current leaders). The once-hyped MySpace Records has foundered and this year laid-off at least half of its staff, though is still apparently functioning as an A&R operation in partnership with Interscope Records.

The thing is, efforts like MySpace start up and close down all the time. The world gets what they want out of it, learns from it and evolves. The only reason it’s still a matter of interest is because of MySpace’s former ubiquity. It really was the first social media site to pervade the public conscious. It was also the first time artists saw the web as more than just a secondary marketing tool, opening up a world of direct fan engagement. In these ways it was a success. But for the music business, this is yet another object lesson that you need to stay ahead of the game, predicting what’s next, rather than trying to cash in on what’s already working by cobbling it together with your business model. And just like with social media, the deluge hampered the ability of quality artists to connect with willing fans. No one is certain what will happen next and how this latter situation might resolve. But here at OurStage, fan-driven music discovery”where the community evaluates and puts the good stuff up top”is our bet.

[Ed. Note: You can read MySpace CEO Mike Jones’ letter to the staff regarding this week’s sale to Specific Media here.]

The Beat Generation – So What's The Deal With Dubstep? A Brief History Of The Genre

You’d think that once a genre breaks into the mainstream, you’d be able to listen to it and tell someone what it is. I mean, what other genre could get coverage in a major online publication that admits that it doesn’t even know what the genre is in the title of the article? Dubstep has been growing in popularity for the past decade but has really come into its own, in the past three years. Most people in college will probably recognize dubstep as that REALLY LOUD bass-heavy dance music they’ve heard at some frat or house party or club venue. Also known as “wobbles”, this music is made to make you nod your head. But that’s not all there is to dubstep, although you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

The roots of dubstep can be traced back to UK Grime rap and 2-Step, growing out of the darker elements of drum and bass music in London. The earliest song to be released with many of the characteristics of the sound would be “Charly”. The sound of early dubstep reflects its urban origins; dark, claustrophobic and nervous created via very heavy subbass. The genre even had something of a home base in its early days. Big Apple Records, based in Croydon, South London, was a record shop specializing in jungle, techno and drum and bass releases throughout the 90s. It began to become the heart of the scene with Dubstep musicians Skream and Benga both working in the shop by day and DJing by night. At least one journalist also conjectured that dubstep had a parallel relationship with rising Ketamine use in the UK. Woah man, drugs and music? Slow down, you almost lost me.

Around 2002 and 2003, the term dubstep began to be thrown around to describe this new dance music. With the name came a jump from local scene to regional flavor and then quickly to national prominence. Much has been made as to how quickly dubstep has come to prominence. Probably doesn’t hurt that the music started out in one of the biggest and most international cities in the world.

Skream is a name that keeps coming up time and again through the growth of the genre. The release of his self-titled Skream! in 2006 with the unexpected UK hit “Midnight Request Line” proved to have a great deal of crossover appeal.

Skream Midnight Request Line by ieseala

House producer Deadmau5 also debuted his first release in 2006. While not a true dubstep adherent, singles like “Strobe”, “Ghosts N Stuff ” and “Faxing Berlin” would prove popular to listeners on both sides of the Atlantic and introduced Americans to music like dubstep. Some wobbles here and there but very melodic and very digestable. Side note: Deadmau5 has started releasing little dubstep experiments on his Soundcloud page and through his Facebook as well. We’ve posted one below for your immediate listening pleasure.

Dub5tepthingie2 by fuckmylife

The 2007 release of Burial’s Untrue, maybe the single most important release for dubstep up to that point if for no other reason than the reviews it received when it came out. Getting positive write-ups almost everywhere, it has since appeared in the Top 10 releases of the decade lists in FACT Magazine, Stylus Magazine and, most notably, placed Number 3 on Resident Advisor’s Top 100 albums of the decade. This brought to dubstep something is was sorely lacking prior; critical acclaim. No longer just the music of club kids and the tastemakers, Untrue proved that not only did dubstep have a dark, gritty, urban soul, but it could also have a brain.

Currently dubstep is bigger than ever. Rusko might have collaborated with Britney Spears on her latest album (“Hold It Against Me” definitely has a bass drop around the 2:40 mark), all around hip guy Diplo released a dubstep collection late last year and the Internet is polluted with a dubstep remix of every song ever made. The genre is not just an internet/pop culture phenomenon, however. For all the critical support as of late, perhaps the highest profile champions were the late legendary BBC Radio1 DJ John Peel and fellow BBC Radio DJ Mary Anne Hobbs. So outside of the basic characteristics of sound, dubstep has had one other stylistic attribute since it has come into greater prominence: it is a genre which exists nearly equally in both the mainstream and in the underground. For a form of music with such a large, young and dedicated following, with write-ups in major publications for years it was, at least until this moment, out of step with the greater continuum of mainstream music and culture in the US. It’s just too dirty for most people. Which, of course, is part of the appeal.

Turning Up The Heat On Artist Discovery

Everyone loves the satisfaction of introducing their friends to a great new band they’ve never heard of before, and the music discovery Web site Hitlantis wants to help listeners find these hidden gems. The site is a haven for lovers of independent music, with more than 2,700 bands just waiting to be uncovered.

Visitors of Hitlantis’s Web site are greeted by a giant, circular conglomeration of unsigned artists, each with their own, smaller circle. Users can create a profile, then browse color-coded genres including metal, pop, blues and punk. Clicking on one of the smaller orbs allows listeners to hear full tracks from that artist. The more popular an artist gets, the closer they move to the center of the circle.

The site also offers incentives for artists and fans; popular Hitlantis bands can win live gigs, and the most active music lovers on Hitlantis can win tickets to events. While we’re not sure if clicking colorful circles at random really makes it any easier for up-and-coming artists to get discovered, Hitlantis’s growing fanbase and a partnership with Universal Music has them headed in the right direction.

In other music discovery news, marketing agency Nuevo5 has compiled a list of digital traffic to music sites in 2010. What’s interesting is that attention-getters like Spotify and Napster actually suffered declining growth in 2010, while industry mainstays AOL Music and Last.fm saw a drastic decrease in growth.

It was start-ups like Rdio, SoundCloud and OurStage that showed the greatest growth in 2010. OurStage came in 13th in page visits in 2010, with 2,500,000 views. That’s a 579% increase from the previous year, making OurStage one of a minority of companies” including Groove Shark and Pandora”who showed triple-digit growth in 2010. The sites that showed the greatest growth were those which allow listeners to interact with artists and with each other, and Nuevo5’s message to bands and labels is that fan engagement will become increasingly important in the future. The music is not your commodity, they reported, The fans are.

Day 1: Future of Music Coalition's Policy Summit 2010

In 2000, The Future of Music Coalition was formed as “a national nonprofit organization that works to ensure a diverse musical culture where artists flourish, are compensated fairly for their work and where fans can find the music they want,” by Policy Director Michael Bracy, General Council Walter F. McDonough, Executive Director Jenny Toomey and Technologies Director Brian Zisk. Over the last ten years, the non-profit organization has held a variety of eventsincluding its annual policy summitwhich gathers together music industry professionals, musicians, thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, lawyers and US legislators to discuss the music industry and the changes that come into play thanks to the ever-evolving and maturing Internet. For more information, visit Future of Music Coalition.

This year, OurStage is front and center in DC and will be bringing you daily updates, tips and tools from the Summit. Enjoy!

It comes as no surprise to musicians any more that they need to manage their own careers in a different way than they used to. Instead of making great music, then trying to obtain a manager, a publicist, an agent, a record deal, etc., events like FMC’s Policy Summit help educate musicians about how they are going to manage their own careers. To paraphrase Amaechi Uzoigwe of Definitive Jux Records on Sunday, “being a musician today is like running a small business.” At OurStage, we want to encourage musicians to use our platform and various tools to advance their musical career so that they can grab hold of another rung and move up the ladder of success.

This year, FMC’s 10th anniversary kicked off Sunday, October 3rd with a mix of panels and discussions including marketing, copyright, health insurance, analytics data and direct-to-fan campaigns. You can view the full schedule and speakers online, but OurStage also wanted to share some specific links for today’s musician. As they say, knowledge is power, so we want to empower you to take control of your music career!

Copyright and Register Your Work

1) Register your work with US Copyright Office

2) Register your work with Soundexchange for digital performance royalties

3) Learn more about the Music First Coalition

Read and Stay Informed

1) Read Donald Passman‘s book Everything You Need to Know About the Music Business

2) Read daily newsletters and music business web sites like HypebotDigital Music News and Sandbox.fm

3) Join the Pho Listserv


1) Grow your numbers on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and OurStage (of course!)

2) Write a blog about your work on Blogger, Squarespace or WordPress

3) Read Mashable to stay informed about trends and news in social media

4) Capture your audience’s mobile info via services like Twilio

5) Make your music available via services like Soundcloud and Bandcamp

6) Learn from online marketing and publicists like Ariel Hyatt (Here’s an interview with Ariel Hyatt about online marketing and publicity)

Manage Your Audience/Email Lists”and Treat Them like Gold!

1) Reverb Nation

2) Nimbit

3) Topspin

4) Bandzoogle

5) Your Mailing List Provider

6) Mailchimp

7) Constant Contact

Manage Your Projects

1) Remember the Milk

2) Basecamp

3) Things (for Mac)

Track Your Online Marketing and Success

1) Use Google Analytics on your site; it’s free and easy to use

2) Use bit.ly to track click through traffic from your tweets

3) Try and explore online tools such as Next Big Sound, Soundscan and Shopify

4) Track your iTunes numbers

Get Health Insurance!

1) Artists Health Insurance Resource Center

2) Future of Music HINT

3) Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight

4) Federal Health Care Reform

5) Kaiser Family Foundation

We hope this helps you as you manage that “small business” of your own. Stay tuned for news and updates on OurStage.com’s Marketplace, a new suite of tools for working musicians to help you manage your career.

Find more links and insider info on the Summit follow us live over the next two days at The Future of Music Coalition’s Summit 2010.

New Music Biz 101: Digital Distribution

Shifts in the music industry have leveled the playing field for independent artists in many ways. One such way is musical distribution. Because we live in a digital age, distribution is taking place in high volumes online. There are a numerous solutions to distributing your music digitally, and we’re going to give an overview of a few of these options.


This company is a massive aggregator of distribution platforms. The idea is that they are a one-stop shop for getting your music on iTunes, Amazon MP3, emusic, etc. Their Web site is easy to maneuver and understand. In addition, their pricing is reasonable considering the number of platforms you’re able to get your music on. At $9.99 per single, and $47.99 per album, it’s a no brainer for a new release.


If you’ve ever wanted to find an easy way to get your music around the web quickly and easily, SoundCloud is your solution. This platform allows you to promptly send and receive music tracks which is great for collaborating on different mixes or mastered versions of your work with your band mates. Additionally, the company offers artsy widgets that look good on most Web sites. The service starts off free at the base level and ramps up to different price points as you add in additional functionality and trackability.

Fair Share Music

Fair Share Music is a very cool idea for any artist trying to make a difference in the world. The platform is designed around donating a share of the tracks sold on the Web site to a charity of the buyers choice (within their database). Although still in beta, the website offers over 8.5 million tracks to download. They donate 50% of their profits to the selected charity!

With all these cool ways to distribute your music for cheap, there’s no reason not to share your music with the world! As always we’d love to hear about your methods of digital distribution.