Selocial Allows Fans and Bands to Discover, Publicize Indie Music
David “Stock” Baird is a songwriter, producer, and entrepreneur who spends a lot of time thinking of new and better ways for independent musicians to get paid for their work. He found a way to connect his passions by creating Selocial, a social network and music discovery tool that went live earlier this month. It allows users to share pictures and videos a la Instagram, but with a backing track or playlist.
Baird, a Michigan native who often hangs out in London, has worked in the music industry for more than a decade, performing in the past under the name Stockmashin. Earlier in his career, he placed songs in the movie “White Chicks” and the Showtime series “House of Lies.” In October, he beatboxed live with the band Fayre on “Sing: The Ultimate Acapella,” a network series airing in the UK where participants compete to record a Christmas single at the Abbey Road studio of Beatles fame. (Fayre did not advance to the finals.)
Baird has been developing and refining Selocial with his own money since its inception in 2013. At first, he envisioned a fan-driven social network where users could post favorite songs to set the mood and narrate photos. But then he pivoted, deciding he wanted Selocial to be a place where fans could discover, buy, and share songs—essentially joining a virtual street team helping to signal-boost their favorite songs and artists—as well as a place where musicians can publicize their work through their own accounts.
“We did that because we realized artists need a lot more support in the market,” Baird explains. Amazon takes up to a 50 percent cut of all downloads, he says, and iTunes takes up to 30 percent. “So we said, ‘What else can we do to add value?’ We’re trying to keep it direct between fans and artists like Bandcamp, but with more tools and options.”
Selocial has created a payment system for musicians, where fans can buy songs or tip their favorite artists. The company makes its money by charging a small fee for each sale. “We may be the first online music company helping artists sell their music that accepts Bitcoin,” Baird says. “We also provide smart tracking for sales and tips.”
Baird says if he were to sell a song to Google Play or Bandcamp, two popular places online to discover music, it would be up to him to look at the contract to see if he owed money to writers or performers on the song. Selocial has created a patent-pending tracking system that issues detailed reports to artists breaking down what percentages are owed to contributors. Selocial also lets artists set a minimum tip amount, and lets fans tip by the song even if it’s in the middle of a mix of songs by other musicians.
“If an artist releases music through Selocial, they can set it to be available during a concert, and fans could then make their own mixes of concert photos and video with the new song,” Baird says. “Fans will get incentives for helping to sell music, whether financial rewards or social currency. It will be beneficial to both parties.”
The music industry has changed dramatically in the past decade from being a lucrative business dominated by big studio players to a more disparate enterprise, where ambitious independent artists have more online distribution channels to attract fans than ever before. Today, it’s both easier to get noticed and harder to mount a profitable music career.
Because of that dichotomy, Baird says a service like Selocial is necessary. Independent music is a $1.8 billion annual market with roughly 20,000 record labels, he adds. His five-person company has a ton of competition from well-established entities such as Bandcamp, Spotify, and iTunes, but he still believes Selocial has something unique to offer both fans and musicians.
“Artists aren’t making money in this climate, so the platform will attract users,” Baird says. “We’re a lot more visual than our competitors. We’ll do a lot of grassroots marketing to look for bands, producers, and songwriters, and later, we’ll branch out to podcasts. We’re very excited about what’s in store and where Selocial is going.”