The debate around the music industry and the relevance of record labels in a digital age is far from resolved, but the ‘independent artist’ camp quite possibly has an extra string added to their bow in self-publish site Qrates. It’s a simple concept with huge potential and a powerful service for artists.
The site seems to offer a full suite of features geared towards helping artists and music producers deliver physical vinyl product to their fans. As an artist, you can set up both preorders for your vinyl release and buy your stock upfront to self-fund the release. There’s even a system in place to get record stores to order copies through the site.
Qrates lets you design your vinyl, either for preorders or to self-fund and sell independently or through stores that want copies. The service takes a 15% cut along with any record costs, leaving it to the artist to decide the retail price. That might seem like a big slice, but it’s probably less than a record label would take, and they probably end up doing more for the artist (shots fired).
Regardless of how the popular this specific site ultimately ends up, the concept is arguably the future of how music should be created and distributed. Sites like this, or Bandcamp, or even perhaps the Indiegogo / Kickstarter style crowdfunding sites, empower artists to produce and sell their music, all in a sustainable market that cuts out the record label middle man. In the modern era of social networks, minimal product infrastructure and disposable digital music, sites like this can offer something much more precious to fans: collectible vinyl.
If someone like Bandcamp were to take on pressing physical music media (they already allow you to sell your merch on the site), it’d be a full service that cuts out the labels all together. Hell, if Qrates let you list digital copies, it’d be an all round offering, creating a platform for artists to offer their music any way they wanted to. I wonder if the right move for Bandcamp would be to buy the site and fold it in, leveraging the existing infrastructure and their (already huge) user base.
That there would be truly be the future of the music industry: democratisation of art. And a kick in the teeth to the old guard: the labels. That’s just me spitballin’, though.
Would you use a service like Qrates? Do you see something like this as the future for music creators?
Want to try to get your music published physically without getting labels involved? Check out the Qrates website to find out how.