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Stream, buy and steal music

Introducing Voltra Co.

The music industry as we know it is coming to an end

The internet has connected us — fewer middle-men are required. Today, artists can make music without huge production costs. They can market themselves and sell their records with the same reach that was only attainable from major labels in the recent past.

Everything is changing really fast. And it has been for quite a while. The old industry is struggling to stay relevant and a new one is about to emerge.

How did it come to this?

Record sales slowed down as new mediums came around in the 60s. In the 80s everyone fell in love with cassettes. People especially loved to copy their cassettes, and making mixed tapes for friends and lovers was a skill that every teenager acquired. Soon after, CDs showed up and pushed out cassettes, which at first were harder to copy, but soon everyone figured out how to do that too.

via www.tapedeck.org

via www.tapedeck.org

Then the internet happened. MP3s made hard drives the new popular medium. Portable MP3 players were created. Music pirating was in full force. Record companies sued the pirates and won, but they also sued the MP3 player and lost. As a result, easily transferrable and copyable digital files that you could take with you in your pocket (!) became the new normal. Pirates got more creative and more prolific, and iTunes and iPods gained huge success, changing the way we listened to music.

Now we’ve entered a whole new era of internet “streaming” radio, bringing with it it’s own form of piracy called “stream-ripping”. Nothing has changed.

Major labels and big companies are bleeding money and losing relevance fast

The success of the music industry happened in such a short time in history, it came with a lot of power and money—and the power they gained was not always put to good use. As Peter Kaplan mentions in this great article, “those who made a killing from the record business of yesteryear, should count their lucky stars that it ever happened in the first place.”

There’s massive hype around streaming. Startups like Spotify and Tidal are bleeding money trying to stay in business. Major labels are riding this new wave, hard as a last ditch effort to maintain control. They and their minions would like to convince us that owning music is dead, so that they can control exactly how and when we listen to music. An eternal advertising utopia.

Music is a social art form, not a corporate asset

Streaming is just glorified renting. You can’t “download” any of it. You can make some of it play offline, but it’s hidden from you inside the app. The restrictions are absurd (shock and awe ensue every time a loyal Spotify user reaches their 10K song limit). When your favorite streaming service goes out of business (rip Rdio), suddenly you’re left with nothing.

Some people need to hear music as much as they need to drink water. Some people are happier when it’s just in the background. Either way, life is incomplete without it. Its value is more than just sentimental. It is a social art form that needs to be shared.

Buy, Stream, Steal

But analog mediums are making a comeback! Vinyl records, cassettes, and even CDs are still being sold. The reason all of these mediums can co-exist is that there is no “one way” to listen to music.

When it comes to getting the music, we’re going to do what we want (or what we’re capable of). We’re not criminals, but we’ve all either made mix tapes, burned CDs or digitized our favorite records. Millions of people are ripping streams with a Youtube downloader every day.

Clearly, many people want to own music and listen to it on their terms.

What we’re building

We decided that we needed a service that was in the best interests of people like us! A player to play the music we own (wherever it came from), a way to discover new music, and to sell the music we make. A store without gameification or “preferred artists”, a market where everyone’s work is seen equally.

So, 10 months ago we started creating Voltra — it’s been in private beta for a little while now. The player is the first, mostly complete phase of our plan.

Our companion mobile app is almost ready. And at the same time we’ve been collaborating with labels and musicians to sell their music in our store — for free, letting them earn 100% of the profit.

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We’re able to offer 100% to indie artists because of our subscription business model. Our app is free and listing your music there is free, and instead of taking a cut of record sales we offer our fans a premium option of cloud syncing across devices and music & metadata backup for a very small monthly fee.

It is our goal to help listeners discover great independent music at no cost to the artist or their label, and for our listeners to have a great experience using our products.

Let’s work together! If you’re a distributor, label or artist, we want to become friends. Let’s help each other to make the music industry what we want it to be.

Request an invite to our private beta here.