Long gone are the days that being an independent musician meant playing at high schools and weddings. Instead, the democratization of the internet has made it very possible to generate a healthy income while remaining the master of your own art. Artists have been flocking to YouTube and pushing free mixtapes to promote themselves—avenues of distribution that would have taken 500 hours to download just a decade ago.
A couple of examples: Even before getting signed to Young Money Entertainment, Canadian rapper Aubrey “Drake” Graham had released a series of free mixtapes and a few music videos in order to generate buzz and build up his own following. Hit producer and multi-talented musician Ryan Leslie still remains independent, and pushes his own music through his platform the Next Selection Lifestyle Group.
That’s what excites musicians about independence: they don’t have to worry about getting re-signed, and have the freedom to do whichever type of music they want to explore. At the same time, they get to see a large majority of their profits (although this does mean they need to pay for their own expenses as well).
You can see the opportunity to help out independent musicians: there’s the chance to help them acquire the expensive services they need (like studio time and distribution), and there’s also the learning curve required for independent musicians to discover how to best market themselves. Enter Tunezy.
Tunezy connects independent and aspiring musicians to their fans, and rewards musicians for interacting with their fans with their own currency, called Notes. For example, Tunezy will automatically pull videos from YouTube and make them available on their own platform. Tunezy will also host exclusive content available only to users of the platform.
These independent musicians can then use Notes to pay for studio time, distribution, management advice, or other various expenses that studios usually cover. In addition to these perks, Tunezy also aims to help independent musicians put their best feet forward by facilitating and encouraging their marketing efforts.
Notes are generally rewarded to fans as well, who have the ability to give Notes to their favourite artists, or respectfully tip them for a great performance.
Tunezy makes money three ways:
- Fans purchasing Notes. In this way, fans can become more influential, and purchase perks like swag, exclusive meetups, or local concerts. Naturally, the level of Notes required for these more powerful experiences will be greater than the amount required for a sticker or smaller prizes. This ensures Fan conversion of real dollars to Notes.
- Tunezy will partner up with companies that do well if the musicians do well, and in doing so take a cut of licensing and distribution deals.
- Making full use of this unique niche platform, Tunezy will also collaborate with other retailers and sell products (think instruments, concert tickets, etc.).
Musicians will share in revenue. Depending on the percentage of Notes they have, they will receive a dollar amount equal to the amount of revenue generated from Notes.
To illustrate this example: if I was a rapper named H-Bizzle, and I had 80,000 Notes out of the entire circulation of 500,000 notes, I would receive 16% of revenue generated from Notes that month.
The idea behind Tunezy was synthesized when co-founders Brandon Chu and Derrick Fung took an entrepreneurship class together a few years ago. Through their research, they discovered that social gamification would be a potentially $5 billion market. Eventually, the entrepreneurial spark fanned into a flame; Chu and Fung both recently left their jobs to bet big on Tunezy.
Fung explained that part of the decision was the idea of regret: should Tunezy fail, they didn’t want to look back and wonder if they could have made Tunezy work if they had decided to quit their jobs and go full-time into it. After having Tunezy take over their weeknights and weekends, Fung and Chu realized that they had to go big or go home.
Upon returning from a pilgrimage to Los Angeles, Fung announced that Tunezy had signed on independent musicians Clara C, Alex Goot, and David Choi. In addition to launching with these artists on board, Tunezy plans to release a free compilation CD with a strong roster of independent talent.
Privately launching to an exclusive flock of fans today, Tunezy was kind enough to offer Techvibes readers a chance to skip the line when signing up for the private beta release of the service. If you sign up through this link, you will be part of the few able to immediately participate in Tunezy’s beta and get a first VIP glance at the social record label to help discover the next musical sensation.