CASH Music Non-Profit Nearly Doubles Kickstarter Goal To Aid Independent Artists

CASH Music recently launched a Kickstarter campaign on February 10, 2012 to raise funds for a hosted version of their platform. Within three days, and almost solely via word of mouth, their $30,000 goal was reached by donations from over 300 people around the world. By the immediate and overwhelming response it was apparent that people understand the need for a nonprofit and open source platform of digital music tools that allow artists the flexibility and functionality that they need. Since then, and with under 60 hours to go, the campaign has raised over $52,000, and co-executive directors Jesse von Doom and Maggie Vail are pushing to reach $60,000 by the end of the March 9, 2012.

What Is CASH Music?

CASH Music is a nonprofit organization that builds open source digital tools for musicians and labels. Their mission is to help educate and empower artists and their fans to foster a more viable and sustainable future for music. What WordPress did for bloggers, they are doing for musicians.

CASH Music is a part of the WebFWD program. WebFWD("Web Forward") is Mozilla’s Innovation Accelerator program, where makers of the next great Web advancements participate as WebFWD Fellows in Mozilla’s global network, receiving mentorship, infrastructure support and other world-class resources that help move the Web forward, together.

A more in-depth discussion of CASH Music’s mission can be found on the Kickstarter campaign page. Here’s an excerpt:

Everything starts with musicians, but with all the money around music they’re the last to see any. All the musicians we know work so hard just to keep their heads above water. The whole Internet thing was supposed to make things egalitarian, but it didn’t. It’s mostly startups with big money and major labels making weird deals and everyone else still working so hard and keeping their heads above water.

Entire companies are being built around the idea that if they can finally make the Internet work for musicians then they can get rich. Some are making things better. Some are making things worse. But they’re all doing it backed by millions of dollars on the promise that they’ll deliver billions later — and in their world it’s consumers (fans) and product (music, more specifically music copyrights.) So what we did was build a whole lot of things that musicians can use, do it in the open where it’s all totally free, and do it as a Nonprofit so Sony can’t come along and buy it all up.

In a nutshell: that stuff isn’t hard. it shouldn’t take a ton of programmer money to make it work, and it’s not even really a business. All those things should be readily available so musicians can spend their money on hiring help where they need it…and for some that might be fancier programming, for some that might be lawyers, whatever. We just don’t think it’s right or fair that artists are currently giving 15% to someone who only sets up a digital "buy" button. And that’s happening on top of the label cut.

The Internet should help artists, not get in their way. But we need an open and nonprofit solution or ultimately all of the best services will just get bought up by someone with ambiguous intentions.

What Can You Do To Help?

Visit CASH Music’s website to read more, but check out their Kickstarter campaign to see a whole list of rewards you can get by donating to the cause. Also, follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Who Is Involved?

CASH Music is led by co-executive directors Maggie Vail and Jesse von Doom, but they’re guided by a board that represents many different parts of the industry: Dave Allen, Anthony Batt, Jonathan Coulton, Tishaun Dawson, Leslie Hawthorn, Kristin Hersh, Dick Huey, Zoë Keating, Nick Palmacci, Eric Steuer, Tobi Vail and Emily White.

A video update from their Kickstarter campaign features interviews with Amanda Palmer, Jonathan Coulton, Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu,Gary Jarman of The Cribs, and The Thermals. The video shows these artists speaking both towards their level of technical expertise and what they see as the importance of direct relationships with their audience. CASH Music has built their tools slowly over five years directly with artists and labels insuring that their tools are useful for all artists. Watch it below:

Kickstarter Update #2 from CASH Music on Vimeo.

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