More music startups should be built by artists.

The artists building music's future

Welcome, artists & builders.

Each week, we navigate music’s future together. Today I’ll cover some of the new startups being built by artists, among other things.

Inside Issue #28

  • 💡 The artists building music’s future

  • 🦁 The ultimate band loyalty program

  • 📊 Advice: Opting out

  • 📺️ Spotify adds music videos & more

Artists as Founders

Music’s future should be built by artists.

I’ve recently been inspired in conversation with artist-founders, almost all of which started by trying to solving their own problems, with a genuine mission to create a better music ecosystem.

They've lived the problems.
They deeply understand them.

And they can build us something better.

Here's 10 artist-founders helping to shape music’s future:

10 Artist-Founders Building Music’s Future

  1. M. SHADOWS is lightyears ahead of anyone in showing what an interoperable future with the artist at the center could look like with Ticket-Pass, Season Pass & more (read more below).

  2. RYAN STAR is building the connective layer of music with STATIONHEAD, making the listening experience fun, social & fandom-driven. Fan-led artist communities where music is actually core to the experience.

  3. TOKiMONSTA is building lean-in streaming with SONU, where it's as much about connection as consumption.

  4. DJ FRESH is building ethical Ai vocal tools with VOICESWAP, using a high-quality, training set recorded in-house to transform your voice, with paid licenses to vocalists for commercial use.

  5. MICKEY SHILOH is building a community-powered label with HRDRV, helping artists find their footing & learn every aspect of the industry.

  6. RAC is building fan & artist identity tools with OSCILLATOR to make their relationship data portable between platforms.

  7. SETH POWER is building tools to bring fans into your tribe with TRIBLY, attaching content drops to every physical & digital touchpoint to incentivize fans to join in.

  8. TIM EXILE is building community music creation with ENDLESSS with multi-player creation tools embedded into Discord-style club.s

  9. 3LAU is building fractional ownership & creativity with ROYAL leveraging web3 & AI (where we’ll see a new approach dropping soon).

  10. JEREMY STERN is building a new digital record store with CATALOG. You can feel it through the product with its focus on ownership, high-intent discovery, & human-led curation.

The common themes I see in artist-founded startups are a focus on artist-fan connection, creativity, collaboration, community, financial transparency & ethical frameworks.

All things we need more of.

Let’s bet on the artists.


More on one of these experiments below.

📚️ My 3 Favorite Reads This Week

  1. Is Generative Music Really the Next Napster? by AudioShake’s Jessica Powell

  2. The Final Word on Vice, or ‘why we should make products worth paying for’

  3. Where Did TikTok Come From, by Ted Gioia


A Band Loyalty Program

Avenged Sevenfold’s Season Pass is a loyalty program that transforms every fan interaction into points for exclusive rewards.

It uses a mesh of integrations to capture fan data:

🎧️ Streaming → Opt-in by syncing stream account
👕 Buying Merch → NFC tags linked to NFT receipts
💿 Collecting Vinyl → NFC stickers to NFT receipts
🤘 Going to Shows → Digital stubs via Ticketmaster

No easy feat.

Everything is scannable, traceable & ownable back into a fan’s wallet, where it unlocks points you can trade for discounts, experiences or even free tickets.

Why We Like It: Typically, most of these fan interactions remain unknown to artists. This puts artists at the center of experience, nurturing a deeper artist-fan relationship.

🔮 Is this what an open future could look like for artists?


Spotify Adds Music Videos

Spotify Music Videos launched in beta with a limited catalog to premium users in 11 countries (not yet to the US).

How it works:

  1. Supported tracks have a toggle button on the Now Playing screen.

  2. Just hit 'Switch to Video' while listening to a track.

  3. Tapping it restarts the song in the new mode.

While Youtube & Apple Music have both audio & video, this is the cleanest for switching back & forth.

And It Adds to Spotify’s Growing Video Strategy: 

Video Podcasts.

Now full-on music videos.

💨 Quick Hits

  1. Nick Minaj Starts Gag City Fan App with Medallion: Fans must scan QR code at a Pink Friday show to access.

  2. Deezer Deletes 26 Million ‘Useless’ Tracks: Duplicated content, fake artists & AI spam.

  3. TikTok (Could Get) Banned: Everything you need to know.

  4. Music Tech Europe Launches: To foster innovation & development.

  5. Splice Launches New Mobile Experience

  6. Myxt launches desktop app: New era, AI powered file-sharer.

  7. TIDAL Adds Circles: Anonymous artist social network to discuss the industry.

  8. Rock Music Booming On Spotify? Searches up 600%.

Thanks for reading. Til next time.

- Rob