Winning the War on Music

Flood of music (1)



At isongU, we are huge fans of the current artists that stand up to YouTube and fight for fairer compensation in Washington. We love the Respect Music movement.

Sometimes we hear complaints that Bono and Taylor Swift are hardly short on compensation, but we take the view that these stars are fighting for their fellow struggling musicians and the very future of music.  It’s not like anyone will listen to some no name, washed up music artist.



Are we fighting skirmishes when the war is already lost?


As much as I admire the current artist outcry, I sometimes get the sinking feeling that we artists are almost crying over spilt milk. Has the war already been won and we are arguing over scraps from our masters at the Tecnocratic table?

Is this just another Occupy Wall Street where, without a solution to support our cause, the cause is lost.

In music, what is the solution? Moreover, what is the problem?



The oversupply of Music


The fundamental issue facing all musicians is that their songs are being lost in an ever rising sea of music. That is where the war is being lost.

There were about 6 million songs in all existence in the year 2000.

Today, we loosely estimate there are 2 Billion songs on YouTube. But we are only ankle deep in the coming deluge. As music sampling and Artificial Intelligence creation technology becomes more automated and ubiquitous, a single ‘artist’ may be able to created thousands of new songs every month.

By the mid-2020’s, we estimate that 1 billion songs will be created every year. This exponential oversupply continuously devalues songs, to the point where artists will need to pay fans to listen to their song (they already do). It will be all brand and no band.

As the saying goes: It can always get worse. If we don’t do something radical, today’s Starving Artist Crisis will become far, far worse.



The coming Music Deluge demands a Smart Filter


What is rare is valuable … but it is only valuable there is an audience for it.

We must have a smart filter that impartially reject lesser songs (remove them from market) while elevating the rare gems.

As shown in this info-graphic, what is rare and in demand gains value.




As impressive as the infographic above is, nobody wants to hear the word filter. A filter is a blocker, and musicians have more than enough stumbling blocks. So, at isongU, we accentuate the big positive: We elevate the rare music gems.

Yes, henceforth, isongU will be called a song accelerator.



Something radial has to be tried


Our proprietary music accelerator, to be launched September, 2016,  is designed to make musicians (and their core fans) the rulers of a fair music world.

And why not: If the music industry continues on its current course, then the future holds absolutely no place for musicians.

Musicians will just have to unite and tackle the problem themselves. The Power of Crowds must decide the future of music. Musicians must become the gatekeepers (via our smart filters) and power-brokers (via our accelerator) of their music industry.


For those that scoff at this radical crowd-powered nonsense, well, something radical and new simply has to be tried. There’s not a moment to lose.

By the mid 2020’s, when there will likely be 1 Billion new songs every year if not every month, the for 99.99% of music artists, the music industry will be stone dead. It will have choked on a sea of songs; it will suffocate itself. Today’s skirmishes with YouTube, Spotify etc. will not delay the inevitable deluge to come.

Are Anonymous Songs the secret to a fair music world?

“Is Anonymity critical to discovering great music?”




So the world produces a deluge of music and this deluge clogs up ‘discovery’ platforms like YouTube and Spotify and makes discovery for newbies a near impossibility.



A fair & trusted Filter:


At isongU, we have spoken about the need to filter out the best songs, and this filter must be impartial, repeatable, reliable and fair. And yes, the best songs must be elevated and exposed and generate songs sales for which musicians must be fairly compensated, but that’s another story. The first step is to be sure we have indeed sifted out the absolute greatest songs.

To ensure impartially great songs at isongU, we render all songs anonymous so that there are no influencers or herds or popularity contests …the kind of things that removes all wisdom from crowds. By making the crowd impartial, we hope to make them wiser.

But is anonymous music the answer? Is anonymity the ‘format’ that will make crowds wise and drive the future of music? Or, to reverse the argument, is it the very lack of anonymity and open sharing of views that serves us today’s weak popular music offerings?



People adhere to the music tastes of others:


The following is from a study from almost 10 years ago, the results of which appeared in the New York Times here:

     In an experiment, social scientists at Columbia University simulated an online music   marketplace that included 14,341 participants recruited from teenage interest Internet sites. The researchers provided half the group with a list of obscure rock songs and encouraged them to listen and download the ones they liked.

The teenagers received no other information and did not know who else was participating. The songs were a sampling from a Web site where many virtually unknown bands post their own music.

By tallying song downloads, the investigators produced a rough rating of the songs’ quality.

When the other half of the teenagers browsed the same songs, they saw, alongside the titles, the number of previous downloads for each song by other members of their group. And they tended to download at least some of the songs previously chosen, resulting in a top 25 chart significantly different from that of the original group.

By running several simulations of this experiment, the researchers showed that song popularity was not at all predictable when people could see what their peers were doing. Good quality songs tended to do better than poorer ones, but not always: a song called ”Lockdown” by 52Metro ranked first in one simulation and 40th out of 48 in another.

”A small group of people making decisions at the beginning had a large influence” on how the songs were ultimately ranked, said Duncan Watts, who, along with Matthew Salganik and Peter Sheridan Dodds, reported the findings in the journal Science.

With little else to guide their choices, people often look to others for cues; curiosity, perhaps along with an urge to affiliate with the group creates a kind of cascade effect in favor of the songs first chosen, Dr. Watts said.



Anonymity is the only hope for fairness:


This experiment clearly shows how, even among small groups, it becomes a popularity contest and decisions are readily swayed. In conclusion, we believe that the first step towards creating an unbiased, fair filter that always repeatedly gives us the highest quality music is to render all songs anonymous. That way, all songs (and all artists) get treated as equals.

Way Too Much Music… and not enough ears


Flood of music (1)

The deluge of new music has only just begun



In case you haven’t heard, the biggest problem in music is there’s way too much music. It has undermined the currency of music. And the deluge of new music is only just getting started,  Sometime in the early 2020’s, we project that 1 Billion songs will be created each month.

That many songs would probably mean that all music would become worthless, even mainstream music. The music marketplace desperately needs to be rarefied, because if it’s left to it’s own devices, there will be no marketplace. Moreover, what is rare is valuable.

Perhaps the only thing big enough to sift through the ungodly mess of music are millions of musicians themselves …and their core friends, family and fans. In other words, the power of crowds.

Yes, I know …we have a loose, uncontrolled version of the power of crowds already: It’s called YouTube.


“I believe in the wisdom of crowds;

Less so the mindlessness of mobs.”


social media 2 black

Let’s be honest, crowds need crowd control. A crowd left to its own devices can quickly become a mob. And mobs don’t necessarily make good choices.

Welcome to the age of the internet mob; the viral kind. This is where the wild meets the blind.

An internet mob is simply a popularity contest led by influencers and made viral by their (misguided?) herds. A very large herd made Justin Bieber a star. Later on, in a radio crowdsourcing competition, an opposing herd, stirred by influencers, voted to send him to North Korea for his next tour.




In the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, he defines the tipping point as that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Yes, it involves influencers and herds and all things viral. But here’s the rub. The Tipping Point is absolutely out of reach these days for 99.9% of musicians. That’s because every platform from YouTube to Spotify to SoundCloud to BandCamp to Patreon have exponentially grown to the point where they are all parking lots with tens and hundreds of millions of songs.

Here in 2016, we estimate YouTube has 2 Billion songs. A new musician uploading their first songs to YouTube in 2016 will need an impossibly large army of influencers (each bringing their own vast herd) to break through that unholy mess.

People are often quick to point to artists that began their journey towards discovery on YouTube as recently as 2009 and went on to become stars. However, in YouTube years, that is just about a billion years ago.




Music gridlock is the death knell for obscure musicians. The funny thing is; platforms like Spotify celebrate their 50 million song catalogues as a measure of their ever-growing success. More choice they say, but we are already crippled by choice. These massive catalogues are graveyards for the vast majority of musicians. And these graveyards are too exponentially growing.

In summary, yes, today’s music industry is consumer driven. Yes, technocracy profits by driving artists and consumers into war with each other. And yes, technocracy has built a music graveyard for hundreds of millions of music artists; the invisible 99.9%.





Crowd Size: As earlier mentioned, the only thing big enough to sift through the millions of songs and (impartially) find the best songs (while removing lesser songs and clearing the gridlock) are the millions of musicians and their core fans.

Crowd Wise: To ensure fairness, impartiality and equal opportunity for all artists (to ensure the wisdom of crowds) we simply cannot allow influencers, herds or popularity contests.

Here’s how we ensure fairness at isongU: There are 20 proprietary levels (filters) that are used to sift out the best songs. At each level, an artist must first rate songs clips by other artists (pay it forward) and then their song clip is rated in return. For song ratings to be trusted, all songs must be original and anonymous:

By anonymous, we mean no song title, no band name, no nothing. Even fans that rate songs are anonymous.

When someone clicks ‘Play’ to review a song, they get a random 1 minute clip of bare bones, anonymous music and they must decide:


‘Does this song grab me… or does it not?’


And that is about as impartial as it gets. This impartiality is critical, because without it, we can never reliably or repeatedly get down to the best music (and therefore never gain the trust of musicians or fans).


band image



Crowds won’t just systematically sift through millions of songs and filter out the best songs just for fun. There has to be motivation …and lots of it. There are two crowds that will both need to be compulsively hyper-motivated:

  • The content creators (before Streaming, these were known as Musicians).
  • The consumers (before Streaming, these were known as Music Fans).

Crowd Motivation is complex and I will need to create a separate post to cover it properly.


But the greatest motivation for an artist is this… 

A few months after our launch, our goal is to make it a mathematical certainty that any songs that rate high enough to make it through all levels of our accelerator will gain 1,000,000+ reviews over 24 months … leading to song sales.

This Mass Exposure is created by our 20 accelerator levels which act as collection points, scalable enough to harvest mass reviews for ‘winning’ songs. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a star or whether you’re starving,  everyone has the same equal opportunity of gaining exposure … & song sales.

I know this sounds crazy, in part because the music industry has always seems to go out of its way to be grossly unfair. But yes, we are about to launch the world’s first mathematically fair, impartial pathway to exposure and ultimately stardom.

The future of music begins with fairness



“Every 2 days, the world creates as much content as we did from the beginning of time up until 2003.” ~ Eric Schmidt, Google CEO in 2010



Do we create too much content? Does the world need a filter?

Music is also considered content these days …highly marketable content. Yes, music is a particularly viral form of content that big tech needs in the worst way to fuel their platforms. Art is made to be bludgeoned by adverts.

True, music is much harder to create than a mere Tweet, so while there is a flood of new music out there, the real deluge has yet to come. The tools of music creation are becoming ever easier. Soon, every digital native will have a bevy of songs they’ve mashed up in minutes and instantly shared.

Even now, there are already too many songs. In the year 2000, there were only about 6 million songs in all existence. YouTube currently contains over 2 Billion songs.  Who knows, in the next five years, artists may be creating 1 Billion songs every month.  And every song that enters the pile devalues the currency of music ever further.

Q:   What’s lower than $0.00?

A:   Paying people to listen to your songs. The precedent has been set: Music Artists already ‘Pay for Play’ when they want to book a gig.


At isongU, we believe that the music discovery highway has already become a parking lot …even modest websites are clogged with tens of millions of songs.

All artists being equal, the odds of discovery are 1 in   …insert your 8 digit number here. Of course all artists are not equal. Music discovery platforms are dominated by the stars. The star 5% get 80% of the pie. Therefore, the obscure artist’s odds of discovery are 1 in …insert you 9 digit number here.

Again, the main source of today’s music industry crisis is the gross oversupply of music. So, what is the solution to this unending mess?



Not only do we need to clear the gridlocked highway, the resultant open highway simply must be fair. All songs being equal; artists (from the obscure to the rock star) must have the same equal opportunity of gaining stardom. For that to happen, it must come down to the bare-naked music. No bias, no hype, no beauty, no bling, no butts, no rants, no fashion, no street cred, no controversy, no thanks. Just the original, bare-naked music and a level playing field if you please.


A big mess demands a big solution:

At isongU, we believe that the only thing big enough in number to clear the clogged mess of music is the music community itself …musicians with help from friends & fans.

Built upon this principle, is a music accelerator that forms an impartial pathway to stardom. Using our proprietary 20 Levels, this crowd (artists + fans) can not only clear the highway (filtering out lesser songs, impartially pinpointing the best songs) …these 20 Levels also act as collection points, collecting the reviews that generate Mass Exposure for these pinpoint best songs.

It’s not just about creating a fair pathway to stardom. The platform must be free -absolutely no fees. Artists must also be fairly compensated. We will pay artists 40% to 70% of the retail price of songs. They are paid transparently. And musicians must keep all copyrights.

We believe artists & fans will become the united gatekeepers & powerbrokers of their own eclectic music industry. An unbiased pathway in which they collectively and individually decide their own fate. A fair music world ruled by musicians.



That’s right ruled by musicians – not Disney or WallStreet or isongU for that matter. isongU has absolutely no say in who becomes a star… we just create a fair path and the music community use that path to collectively determine the future direction of music.  Music belongs to the people -not superficial, hit driven corporations and certainly not profit driven Wall Street.

We will launch our accelerator in September, 2016.

Can Musicians ever trust anybody ever again?


“I’ve been stabbed in the back so many, many times, I don’t have any skin, but that’s just the way it goes.”

~ Morrissey.


The music industry has repeatedly stabbed musicians in the back. And now that artists are starving and it appears there is nothing left to stab, they invent new ways to stab them some more.

So can musicians ever trust the labels, the technocrats, the performance rights organizations (PRO’s), the clubs, their manager …anybody? On balance, I think the answer has to be no, nay, never!

At this point, musicians probably don’t trust that internet disintermediation is the answer either -yet they appear to be addicted to exposure via the web. Internet glory is the slot machine with a million bells. It’s also a black hole that never seems to pay out. Why do artists continue to toss their orphan music away into this bottomless freemium pit?

To be fair, freemium exposure did bring some artists success at the outset. But, after a couple of years …what, with the explosion in new music and so many people jumping on the freemium bandwagon, the price point of music basically fell to zero. And at $0, well, there was no market -unless you want to count the micro-pennies from streaming. A few lucky artists can still gain liquid exposure today, but without a viable market, even these lucky few will sip on ever thinning gruel.

“Facebook Likes have replaced the dollars we likes.”

So, in the market reality of today, when should musicians give their music away for free? How about never. And when should they stream (or post music videos) for micro-pennies? Again, how about never.

If an artist should be so lucky as to stream their music on say  Pandora, the only way to get off that streaming bandwagon is to forgo performance royalties from PRO’s …like ASCAP & BMI. That’s because streaming companies like Pandora can buy a blanket license to stream (aka perform) all songs by any artist registered with ASCAP & BMI.

Is it a big deal to forgo performance royalties? Not for 99% of artists. For ye struggling artists –guess what, there are no performance royalties to speak of. So save yourself the $50 fee needed to join ASCAP -at least until such time as you have enough airplay to negotiate better royalties.


At isongU, we are 12 Gaming Levels, songs that beat The Game gain a large buying audience for their song. As in Music Stardom,

All music artists enter The Game as equals. It does not matter whether you are a Star or Starving. Everybody has to pass through the exact same hoops that are the Gaming Levels.

The Wisdom of Crowds

To make the game fair, we render all songs Anonymous (no song title, Artist name or imagery) so that when listeners hear a random, mystery song clip, they give their unbiased gut reaction to the bare bones music: Does it grab them or does it not.

OK, so it’s not 100% without bias. For instance, some listeners may have Genre bias – perhaps a listener hates Jazz or Country music. However, a song that beats The Game will garner about 6,000 listens, so in a crowd this size, their will likely be  people that low Jazz or Country music and so, in a large diverse crowd,  these biases tend to cancel one another out.

The biggest factor in the Wisdom of Crowds is this: Individuals must rate songs without herding or influencing from other listeners. When a fan hits play, they get a randomly delivered mystery song clip. Because it is random, no other listeners can hear the song clip, so herding or influencing is not possible.

Selling a Mystery: Buy or Bust:

A 2nd reason we render song anonymous is to generate song sales. If a fan loves a song so much that they rate it, say 90/100, we give them the option to buy the song, but the option to buy only exists while the 90 second song clip is playing. Once it plays out, the song is gone and it’s gone forever. It is Buy or Bust.

The Game is based on Fairness for all:

It is absolutely crazy to talk about fairness in the music industry. The music world has long been riddled with biases. At present, it doesn’t even pretend to be fair.

We are basically placing a fair music industry inside a game. Once where all artists enter as equals. And that’s kind of insane.

Building Trust:

The biggest challenge facing isongU is how do we build trust with Music Artists. A culture of distrust plagues the music industry and nobody can blame artists for having a healthy degree of cynicism. Their distrust has grown out of 60 years of corruption and greed that pervades the music industry now more than it ever did before.

Honestly, we cannot blame music artists if, right now, they do not trust a single word we say.

20 Clear Steps to Stardom : Never any Fees & No Bias