Respect Your Eardrums

You wouldn’t yell in a restaurant. So why would you release a song nobody wants to hear?

phInix is a new way to release music. It’s a dual marketplace solution. One market for small atoms of sound, moving lightning-fast. The other market for finished artwork, crafted more slowly and hitting the market like thunder.

For Listeners

You’re a listener in 2018. Why on Earth would you pay for music? People keep putting it out there for free, and it’s easier to get than a glass of water. Surely Louis is not trying to initiate you into some cult of Paying For Things People Made? No, no. Nothing so crude.

Simply consider this: the music doesn’t exist yet. That’s right, you swashbuckling song pirate, you can’t have the treasure because I haven’t finished it yet.

Okay, but why would you choose my music over all the free stuff? Quality. I’m using this release format to save us all some time and cut right to the point. If you think my music is better than everything else, support it. If you don’t, I saved a lot of time and energy that could’ve been wasted on bad songs. Also, if this concept proves to work, it could lead to an interesting future. Read on to see how.

The platform can also be used for specificity due to the high volume possible with mini-songs. A great variety and large number of short mini-songs are released by each artist and tagged with various factors. Want a unique song for Karen’s wedding? One with her name on the front and wedding photo in the cover art? Select a great one from many options on phInix. Everyone who’s invited pitches in $10. Comment what you want with your donation. And wouldn’t it be cool if your city or school had its own song? Or if your new Satanic yoga studio had…any appropriate music?

“But Louis, any big label could pay them more to write a hit song.” You have a superpower no big corporation possesses. You are the market. Would an artist believe the promise of a label or the promises of thousands of fans? Which is more likely to start a career? Knowing for certain how you, the listener, feel about a song is worth more than analytics.

But in the end, it’s about quality. Tasting the food before we order it. Driving the car before we buy it. What if we could choose our Top 40?

For Music Professionals

Modern wisdom tells musical entities to seek out artists with established fans. That’s fine, if you like fishing. phInix is more like agriculture. Traditionally, big labels signed more artists each year than they would ever keep. On its face, it makes sense: if hit songs are rare, more artists giving it their best effort equals more probable income. Here’s the problem: those are people. Those are real people with dreams, losing their deal because their first five songs didn’t sell.

We should be doing with songs what we used to do with artists. Try out many small tidbits in a wildly dynamic marketplace. The artist will grow, and the chance of success per artists will increase. Every artist is a marketplace.

Now imagine this: you’re a new artist trying out phInix. Instead of producing a 20-minute, 5-song EP, you produce 40 thirty-second clips. They are wildly different, some being safe, some experimental. But all highlight things you can do. A few of these gain support. Not enough to live on, but enough to cover cost of release. When you release your song, it already has supporters. Maybe it already got a placement, and you can advertise accordingly. That feels so much better than putting out full songs nobody listens to.

phInix reveals two core beliefs: every artist has something to offer, even if they don’t know it; and we like or dislike a song in about thirty seconds.

For Visionaries

And now for an even bigger idea. More, smaller, faster-moving mini-songs yield more personality resolution, more time resolution, and more data points. What do I mean?

Personality resolution is how well we can understand an artist from their songs. Interviews are rare, videos are time-consuming, and pictures are… not how musicians primarily communicate. If we think of the number of mini-songs as the number of words in a conversation, more of them means more things to say. A clearer picture of who that artist is. Therefore, not only does each “mini” represent a full song that could be produced, but also there exists a meta-game among each set that can attract fans on its own merit.

Time resolution means greater understanding of song consumption in the time domain. Let’s say a tragedy happened. A mini-song could be out in an hour. But how soon is too soon? Well, mini-songs will be released over a wider range of times, and more frequently. Chances are, we will see exactly when people are ready to feel their grief via music.

Data points. This one should be obvious. More data points means better differentials. Imagine if the stock market only showed one change in price per day. Far fewer waves to ride. With more data points in general, we can watch the tide roll in (thanks Otis Redding) on certain genres and topics thanks to mini-songs. When that wave reaches a peak, drop your full song. Or, perhaps we’ve learned that certain clusters of mini-song responses to certain events spell doom for a full release. Look out for those, and react accordingly.

The internet has made very short songs a viable new art form. Because of their tendency to leave us wanting more, mini-songs tie in perfectly to the type of art musicians perform offline. This online-offline synergy is an example of how the internet should be used. And, in fact, a similar phenomenon is already occurring. We’re just expanding it, and giving it a name. phInix.