Remember when every artist looking for a record deal put their music on MySpace and waited for A&R folks to stumble across said site to discover their awesome new songs and make them the next big thing but really all that happened was five friends listened to the songs and then MySpace died and now no songs get heard anywhere? Whew.
Well, Chartburst wants to change that.
Chartburst is a new service that sounds pretty promising. Independent artists upload one song at a time (every two weeks), and site users up-vote the songs they like, similar to the way popular posts make it to the front page of Reddit. But here’s the kicker that sets this service apart from other sites that have tried similar tactics: at the end of every two week period, the highest voted songs are forwarded to talent scouts at around 30 record labels – including the major labels.
Of course, the labels are making no promises about what they will do with the music they hear other than provide email feedback to the artist. And the founder of the site realizes that the success of the site depends not on this feedback, but on record contracts.
“The site can’t last unless people get signed,” co-founder Francis Gane told Mashable. “That’s what they’re paying their money for, and that’s what the A&R signed up for.”
Artists pay a monthly fee to submit their music to the charts. After a two-month free trial period, subscriptions cost $5 a month, though subscribers to the just launched beta launch can get this discounted to $2.50 per month.
And though the site does need record contracts, it will be the fans that will ultimately make or break the concept in the long run, as they are responsible for choosing the music that gets to the ears of those at the labels. If there are not enough users on the site voting, some artists will likely be able to exert too much control over the site if they can encourage their existing fans (likely through social media) to sign up and vote.
However, if the site gains enough users to overcome this problem and really creates a democracy that consistently chooses the best indie music to send to labels, Chartburst could become a real industry influencer.
Gane points out that the allure of fans to sign up should not be about getting artists record contracts, but about being able to discover music they would not otherwise hear.
Gane started the company with his father, who is a lifelong music industry veteran that owns a recording studio in Wales, which is likely where the label connections come from. The younger Gane says he hopes to release a mobile app to provide users the ability to vote on the go, though this will depend on the performance of the site.
“We’re a bootstrap father-and-son operation,” Gane said. “Assuming we get an investor on board or we start getting some income from the site, it will all be plowed back into the development of a nice shiny app.”