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May 30, 2024 40 mins

Mia talks with Simon and Alex, two co-founders and worker owners of the music co-op platform Mirlo, about how streaming changed the music industry and how to fix it.

https://mirlo.space

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mirlo/mirlo

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Also media.

Speaker 2 (00:06):
It could happen here. That's the podcast that you're listening to.
I'm your host, Nia Wong. It's a podcast about things
falling apart and putting them back together again. This is
a very very immediate falling apart and then trying to
put it back together again.

Speaker 3 (00:19):
Episode.

Speaker 2 (00:20):
Today we're talking about something we haven't really talked about
on the show very much, which is the music industry
and the absolute fiasco that is streaming services within it.
And here to talk with me today are two people
who are trying to fix some of those problems. And
those two people are Simon and Alex who are co

(00:42):
founders and worker owners of a new platform project initiative
many such words called MIRLO. And Yeah, both of you,
welcome to the show.

Speaker 3 (00:53):
Thanks so much. It's a pleasure to be here.

Speaker 4 (00:55):
Yeah, excited to be on here.

Speaker 2 (00:57):
Yeah, so I'm excited to talk with you both first
about sort of the issues with the existing sort of
market for music distribution, because there's been over the last
really twenty years, it's been a sort of seismic shift
in how music distribution has functioned from a model that
was previously largely built on things like record sales to

(01:18):
the sort of streaming platforms. So yeah, can you talk
about what the issues you see with the sort of
current model are and how that kind of led you
to do something different.

Speaker 5 (01:28):
Sure, yeah, I mean for me, that's the story of
me growing up with music, you know, because I was
born in the nineteen eighties, so you know, my first
connection to you know, to music was through playing in
my elementary school band, learning the trumpet and then the trombone,
but also you know, beginning to buy CDs and I remember,

(01:49):
I think it might have been Will Smith's Big Willy
Style or whatever that like in the early nineties, I
think was the first CD that I bought. But you know,
that was how I you know, music came into my world.
There were also some cassette tapes too, I think, like
when I was younger, it was cassette tapes, and by
the time I was the one, like, you know, spending
my allowance money, it was CDs. But then you know,
by the end of the decade, by the time in

(02:10):
high school, you know, napster happens.

Speaker 3 (02:14):
I was, I think in middle school when that happened.

Speaker 2 (02:17):
So we should explain what napster is because I think
we've now reached the point where it's faded.

Speaker 5 (02:24):
Napster is a big deal because all of a sudden,
I can speak from my you know, memory of it
as a twelve year old or whatever.

Speaker 3 (02:31):
I was probably.

Speaker 5 (02:31):
Fourteen maybe when when when Napster was a thing. I
remember going over to my neighbor's house who I hung
out with after school a lot, and he had this
program on his computer where he could download any song
that he wanted, and it was just like this incredible,
mind blowing new thing.

Speaker 3 (02:49):
Of course, that's.

Speaker 5 (02:51):
Just from the end point of the distribution, right that's
from that perspective, it was this absolutely transformative experience. But
of course, all of the steps that got into getting
the music there was putting some carts before some horses,
you know, and a lot of it was, you know,
getting there via unauthorized leaks or other ways that Because

(03:14):
it was all of a sudden so simple to share
the physical sounds through the new kinds of media channels
that were available through the Internet obviously and through software,
the folks at Napster were able to really jump ahead
of that and in classic Silicon Valley fashion, you know,
disrupt the industry. And all of that was really happening

(03:34):
with musicians early on, right, this was even before the
dot com bubble burst. You know, Napster was riding that
wave and a big part of that sort of first
arrival of Silicon Valley startup technology really arriving in millions
of you know, living rooms and home office computers and

(03:55):
you know all that. And so I think historically, you know,
with technology, this really does play out that oftentimes musicians
are the ones that get disrupted first. And for decades
this has been you can look at the history of
the twentieth century and the history of media in the
twentieth century as this tension between musicians doing what they
do and technologists doing what they do, and capitalists using

(04:20):
the technology to extract value from the musicians, you know.
And then there have of course been lots of ways
that musicians have organized and fought back and you know,
wrote their own chapters in the story.

Speaker 3 (04:31):
And I think that we're.

Speaker 5 (04:32):
Just just starting to get to the point where that
is happening in.

Speaker 3 (04:37):
This latest episode.

Speaker 5 (04:38):
Napster is you know, twenty five years old at this
point in terms of when that moment happened, and of course,
the reaction to Napster from the entrenched music industry, which
we're all consolidating under these massive media conglomerates. At that time,
they fought back kind of old school, and I remember
I was in college when they were suing college kids

(05:01):
for downloading stuff on Napster, for having files on your
computer that you know, weren't authorized or whatever. Those were
my peers, you know, I didn't actually know anybody personally
that this was happening to. But this was you know,
this was something that we were all aware of and
we were all kind of figuring out together.

Speaker 2 (05:20):
There's a really good Corey doctor book that's like a
fictionalized account of what this period was like called Pirate Cinema.
That is great, so if you ever want to yeah,
if people want to read that, it is very good.
It's about the sort of film version of the same
fight that was happening.

Speaker 3 (05:35):
Exactly.

Speaker 5 (05:36):
And they were, I mean, no holds barred, Like, they
had massive budgets for expensive lawyers, and they just sent
them after whoever they could, thinking that that would stem
the tide.

Speaker 3 (05:45):
And obviously that wasn't going.

Speaker 5 (05:47):
To stop anything, because what Napster signaled was this massive
technologically catalyzed paradigm shift where the way that people listen
to music was just radically transforming before everyone's eyes. And
it took the music industry side of it a little
while to catch up to that reality. But once they did,
they started trying to figure out, Okay, what are the

(06:09):
ways that we can get a cut right, obviously if
everyone's just doing this illegally, and you know this is
just if everybody is doing something illegal at the same time,
even we can't send enough lawyers to sue everybody out
of existence, so we need to figure out how to
make this work. And that's when you know, there started
to be experiments with other big corporate players in the

(06:31):
technology industry. I remember from my perspective, it was the
iTunes store. I remember ripping all of my CDs that
I bought in high school, like spending a whole weekend
just ripping them all into my iTunes library and kind
of curating it and having my you know, all of
my MP three's and iTunes and I had an iPod
and that was where I would listened to things. And

(06:54):
I didn't even really purchase a lot of the like
because they had ninety nine cent tracks. That was kind
of the thing, was like you could pay a dollar
and you can get what you wanted. I didn't buy
that much music by that point because mostly it was
transferring files that I had burned from CDs. But that
was how the industry was kind of making its peace
with this disruption, was to partner with Apple, and then

(07:15):
later Spotify comes onto the scene with this promise of
the universal jukebox. Right like, we're going to build the
tool that is going to allow for any listener to
just pay a subscription and they can listen to anything
they want on the internet. Because you can hire it
anything on the internet. We're going to make the legal
way to do it, and so we're going to let

(07:35):
people pay, and we're going to design all of the
back end. We're going to centralize it in our you know,
technological systems, and we're going to build this tool that
can allow anybody to listen to music anytime without having
to in the back of their mind be worried about
if they're stealing from a musician or if you know,
they're going to get sued a record label or whatever.

(07:55):
Right so, and of course the record companies were all
in on that, and that is where you.

Speaker 3 (08:02):
Know there I haven't seen all of the books or whatnot.

Speaker 5 (08:05):
But it's very clear that you know, the major labels
were big you know, equity owners in Spotify, so they're
basically making big bets on Spotify. And then the tension
that has been navigated is, Okay, how do they maintain
the value of the catalog, the back catalog that the
intellectual property rights of all the recordings that throughout you know,

(08:28):
the history of recorded music, they have consolidated into these
you know, catalog portfolios of sounds and songs. So that's
valuable and they need to get their piece from that,
but then they also need to get their piece from Spotify.
The business you know, continuing to exist and that subscriber
revenue from people who are paying for the privilege to

(08:50):
be able to listen to any song that they want
at the click of a button, and that has Yeah,
it's created some weird incentives.

Speaker 3 (09:00):
Particularly the group of people at the end.

Speaker 5 (09:02):
Of the day that really gets left out of that
are the musicians, right, because throughout history, you know, the
partnerships with people who distribute music have been very exploitive. Right,
It's like, Okay, I'll give you an advance to go
record your music, give you all this creative control, you know,
set up the studio time, do all the legwork to
make it so you can do whatever you want as

(09:22):
a musician. But then we're keeping the master recordings. You know,
we're keeping a percentage of every sale that you make.
So it does become this kind of deal where the labels,
over the longer term, benefit much much more than the musicians.
And then the deal with Spotify really amplified that because
the labels are making sure they get their cut, but

(09:43):
they're not always making sure that the musicians get their cut.
And even the musicians getting their cut has to go
through the labels first, and so the labels have this
relationship with the technology company that's distributing the files themselves,
and that's kind of of the bargain where it stayed
right and then most recently that became even more amplified.

(10:08):
It sort of turned up the volume on the disparity
in this dynamic when Spotify made the decision to demonetize
many of the songs that are on the platform. So
it used to be that you would get some fraction
of a cent for every time that someone streamed your song,
and Spotify had this complex algorithm for determining how you

(10:29):
got paid out, and they recently tweaked that algorithm so
that if you don't meet a certain threshold of plays, you.

Speaker 3 (10:35):
Don't get anything.

Speaker 5 (10:36):
So you could have your music on Spotify, could be
music that you worked really hard and you know, even
invested your own time and money and resources into putting
out there, and you don't get.

Speaker 3 (10:46):
A penny of it, and you don't get you say,
and why? And that's the.

Speaker 5 (10:50):
Starting point from a musicians perspective about where things are at.

Speaker 4 (10:54):
I think it's also interesting to think about how the
way those technologies, systems and the way that the music
distribution has changed has also changed the way that music
gets made. So you see a lot more, you know,
very big name musicians releasing single tracks to big acclaim

(11:16):
because now the incentive, and with the tweaking of the incentive,
is that you want individual tracks that are making millions
and millions of plays.

Speaker 3 (11:26):
So it really becomes.

Speaker 4 (11:27):
About that rather than and you know that can be
fairly value neutral, you know, album versus track or whatever,
but it is really influencing the way that you know,
the first twenty seconds or so of a song are
the most important, So the structure of songs are changing
to suit you know what, what actual music gets made
because people skip the song, then it doesn't make any money.

(11:51):
And yeah, So the way that the technology and capital
and the incentives of capital have changed to actually shape
the culture.

Speaker 3 (11:59):
That consuming, I think it's very interesting.

Speaker 2 (12:02):
Yeah, And speaking of the way that capital and capital
incentives changes the structure of what you're consuming, we need
to take an ad break.

Speaker 3 (12:14):
And we are back.

Speaker 2 (12:16):
So I think one of the kind of bleak things
about this kind of era of media distribution has been
how kind of staggeringly impossible it's felt to resist any
of these forces, largely because you know, now you have
the power effectively of these massive tech companies and then
also the power of the existing sort of studio monopolies

(12:40):
on the same side, sort of wielding a giant hammer
and hammering everyone else in the line. And this is
the point where I want to ask, Yeah, I start
talking about what mer Low is, So can we talk
a little bit about I guess first how it got started,
and then we can get more into what is it

(13:01):
and how it's attempting to change all of this.

Speaker 4 (13:05):
So about two years ago, now, Wow, I was doing
a lot of volunteering with a project called Resonate, which
is a little bit of a precursor to mirror Low
in a way. Resonate is trying to be a alternative
to Spotify. They want to be a streaming service where

(13:28):
you can basically just create playlists, listen to music, and
just and what was novel about Resonate was that they
had a payout structure where every time you played a stream,
you paid a little bit more. So if you pay once,
you pay a cent, If you play twice, you pay
two cents, and then it would increase to paying around

(13:50):
a dollar. And once you paid a dollar for a track,
so you played it like nine times, you owned the
track and then it was yours to pay for it indefinitely.
That was cool. I some work there, but what became
apparent quickly was again these incentive structures where if you
want to do a streaming platform, you want it to

(14:11):
be a universal jukebox. People will use it for the
music that's on it, and they want to hear the
music that they know. And if you want to be
a universal jukebox, you have to wade into.

Speaker 3 (14:24):
The realm of royalties.

Speaker 4 (14:26):
And one of the things that we didn't mention earlier
is that, as far as I know, maybe it's changed
in the past year or so, Spotify is still not profitable.
Despite massive payouts to the CEO, Spotify doesn't actually turn
a profit. It's just investment driven, and that is in

(14:48):
large part because of the way that royalties work on songs.
It's just really hard to actually make money on top
of all the costs of the infrastructure, which was a
little bit of a clue for us for not working
for a bootstrapped, non VC funded work or co op

(15:08):
with absolutely no money. It was unlikely that that would succeed.
We started also looking at projects that are kind of
in the same space, and we're a little bit more successful.
That's how we got into contact with Alex and Alex
I don't know if you want to talk a little bit.

Speaker 3 (15:25):
About Ampled, sure, Yeah.

Speaker 5 (15:26):
So Sion mentioned that he was coming out of Resonate
at the same time I was coming out of Ample,
which was a platform cooperative initiative that was started later
part of the Last Second twenty eighteen, twenty nineteen. I
forgot exactly when I joined towards the end of twenty
twenty one, and the idea behind Ampled was that it

(15:50):
was going to create essentially a monthly patronage kind of
platform for musicians, so you, you know, release exclusive stuff
on the platform that's yours and that you have the
intellectual property rights too, and you have supporters who pay

(16:11):
a monthly contribution to have access to that content. And
so they had a little I guess it was kind
of like a blog post kind of format that could
you get in bed audio. You could embed videos and
it would go out in and email to your supporters
every month, and they could log into the platform to
listen to your whatever you're releasing there. I joined AMPLE

(16:33):
because I was actually at the time coming out of
some other work that I had been doing and building
democratic workplaces. I had been involved in starting another project
that was trying to organize itself that way, and was
also working with my partner, who's a therapist, to start
a mental health worker cooperative at the same time. So

(16:54):
I was deep in the worker cooperative nerd zone at
that point.

Speaker 3 (16:59):
But I had I've not been playing very much music.

Speaker 5 (17:01):
I'm a trombonist and do jazz and improvised music, and
I had taken a couple of years off really from
playing and was starting to get cranky. There was just
a part of me that needs to make music. That's
just the part of who I am, and it was
just becoming really clear to me that that needed to happen.
So I was starting to look for what are some
ways that I can start putting some stuff out into

(17:22):
the world again and ideally doing that work and the
spirit of cooperation, you know, and finding other people who
shared my enthusiasm for the idea that doing the work
together and learning how to actually run things cooperatively without
you know, a management structure on top of it, siphoning
energy away from it. And so I found Ample on

(17:43):
the internet and saw what the proposition was. And part
of their structure at the time was that you could
actually become a co owner of the platform by being
an artist that was using the platform, and once you
got to a certain number of supporters on the platform,
then you got to be well. The governance rights involved

(18:04):
being able to a third of the board members. It
was a nine person board with three artists representatives could
run for the board, and there was also sort of
an extra space and their discord that was sort of
artist owner, you know, only kind of space to connect
around that, and so Yeah, once I got the number
of people following my project, this was in twenty twenty two,

(18:27):
got an email saying, congratulations, you're an artist owner, and
at the same time realized that the party was kind
of over.

Speaker 3 (18:36):
I had when I.

Speaker 5 (18:38):
Arrived into the space. I was like, Hey, everybody, what's up?
And it was just kind of crickets, you know. And
there were a couple of the workers who were working
on it at the time, who I'm pretty sure were
still volunteering their time, who had had some conversations with
and gotten to know a little bit, but it was
sort of a ghost ship by that point. And it
turns out I was the last artist owner to join.

Speaker 3 (18:58):
No yeah dubs distinction exact.

Speaker 5 (19:03):
The platform wound down entirely at the end of twenty
twenty three, and so, yeah, it was maybe a few
months after I had joined and started using it. I
kind of had a monthly flow where I would do something,
send an update, write something about what I was working on,
records and trombone sounds, you know, linked to something else

(19:23):
that was on the internet, you know.

Speaker 3 (19:25):
And so after a few months of.

Speaker 5 (19:27):
Doing that, Yeah, I got an email saying we're winding down, sorry,
and that was kind of that. But by that point
I had met SI and we were both kind of
starting to compare notes about these respective projects that had
similar goals, similar ideals, similar interest in you know, cooperating

(19:47):
and realizing that neither of them was, you know, was
going to be a place where we could continue the
work that we wanted to do, and so we started
talking about, well, what if we were going to start
from scratch, what would.

Speaker 3 (20:02):
That look like?

Speaker 5 (20:03):
And so I brought some other friends he'd been working
with their resonate and these conversations we've just started as
conversations like similar to the one we're having right now,
where we're starting to kind of develop an analysis together
about what was going on in the music industry what
might be able to be done differently. And after a
few months, those conversations started turning into wait, yeah, we

(20:26):
could actually do some of this ourselves, And that was
when the idea of Mirla really started to hit the ground.

Speaker 2 (20:34):
Yeah, we will talk more about how all of it
sort of came together and what the structure looks like
and what it will look like after more of these ads.
We are back, So let's get into this sort of
meat of what Merlaw is, So can you talk about

(20:55):
what is sort of different about mirlow than the other
sort of platforms in the market. How is the optive
structure work.

Speaker 4 (21:02):
Yeah, so, when we were looking at ways to actually
make a profitable business, which is unfortunately a thing that
you have to do if you want to or at
least a revenue making business, if you want to be
able to pay people, we were looking at other platforms
and spaces that exist out there that do actually make money.

(21:26):
So Patreon and band Camp have been profitable. Band Camp
for a long time actually posted their earnings as a report.
Then band Camp got sold, and then it got sold again,
and then band Camp laid off half of their staff,
including everyone who was part of the union organizing committee.

(21:48):
And we were already like, we already had a basically
a prototype at that point, but that was also a
moment where we realized was like, oh, we gotta go,
we gotta pressco on this thing. And so what we have,
what the product is right now is basically it is
i would say, a lightweight clone of Bandcamp. It doesn't
have all the functionality with the added features of more

(22:13):
Patreon stall subscription based things, so musicians can go onto
mirr low, they upload their albums. They can sell their
albums as digital copies for whatever they want, for free
or for money, and then they can also set subscription
tiers use it as a mailing list basically to send

(22:34):
out updates. Two subscribers have specific tiers that receive specific content.
For example, you could have a tier that if someone subscribes,
they automatically get a new release that you put on
the platform. And yeah, that's basically the product. It allows
music playing, but it's not a streaming service. You can't
make playlists, it doesn't do infinite streaming. The plays are

(22:56):
basically promotional plays. So we've had two undred and fifty artists,
which includes some people who work under several names, but
so two hundred and fifty entities artists who have uploaded
five hundred albums to Erolo, which I don't know, I
haven't done the math on what that is like listening
time wise, but it's probably already more music that I

(23:18):
could consume, and we have people buying music. It's really exciting,
you know, Like it's not we're not we're not making
enough money to bankroll anything, but it's exciting that I
think we've got about four hundred dollars moving through the
platform every month at this point, so that's that's really cool.
We need more obviously, but that goes a long way

(23:38):
to you know, I guess confirming the ideas that we've
had so far. And there was a second part.

Speaker 2 (23:48):
Of that question, Yeah, how does the sort of cooperative
structure work now? And then we could move on to
what is it going to look like when the platform
is sort of more developed, more mature.

Speaker 3 (23:59):
Yeah, I can that a little bit. So we also,
in our thinking about this, took a lot of lessons
from our experiences in Ample and Resonate, also the other
experiences I've had in you know, cooperative organizing structures. And
one of the things that we wanted to make sure

(24:20):
we did was we had kind of a phase one
and then during that phase one also kind of figure
out the vision for what we want to see moving
forward and how we can grow into something that's more
like what we ultimately want. In other words, we didn't
want to put the car before the horse was saying like.

Speaker 5 (24:34):
Okay, let's draw out like this really spiffy multi stakeholder
cooperative thing where the artists have these things and the
you know, listeners have these things and the coders have
you know, you know, for starters. We just figured out
who among us is like ready to our government name

(24:54):
to be some paper and you know, open an LLC,
and that ended up being three of us who are
based in the United States, MEISI and one other working
on our Jodie, and then from there the three of
us were kind of the poor team that is going
to build things out from here.

Speaker 3 (25:13):
So we're still very early stages.

Speaker 2 (25:15):
You know.

Speaker 5 (25:15):
The soft launch and the platform was the beginning of
this year, just a couple of months ago. We incorporated
last year in November, so all of this is totally
brand new, and you know, we're figuring out as we go.
But the idea with the current group is that we
start to practice a culture of decision making by consent.
And that's this idea that particularly anything high level about

(25:38):
you know, what the business is or how it runs,
is consented to by everybody in the group. And so
if there's anything that any of us are a no to,
you know, we're like, hold up, this isn't going to
work for me. That actually is the way that we
steer the ship forward. So that's been something that we've
been working on building together. We're working with a legal

(26:01):
team to codify this into a sort of worker cooperative
style LLC operating agreement.

Speaker 3 (26:10):
You know, we're members of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives.

Speaker 5 (26:12):
We've been kind of learning from the ecosystemative ways that
worker cooperative policies and procedures can be built into the
nucleus of this at the beginning. And also, the three
of us each come from different places, and so we
each bring really different perspectives to where things need to go.
And so that's also been a part of you know,

(26:36):
where we're starting from is if we can get enough
unique perspectives into the space, build the core practice this
culture of consent where even a minority of no is
a no for the whole group, and start to build
that in, then that is kind of the seed for
where things go from here.

Speaker 2 (26:58):
In terms of where things go from here, one of
the things that you talk about a lot is the
exit to community, And yeah, I wanted to ask, can
you explain what that is and what it sort of
means for what this platform is going to be going forward.

Speaker 5 (27:12):
Yeah, So this idea of exit to community comes from
conversations that have been happening in the solid area economy
world about what would it look like to support essentially
startup businesses right that the founders are aiming for a
different kind of exit than how we traditionally think about,

(27:34):
you know, startup businesses that are aiming for an exit
to either get bought by a bigger company or get
listed publicly on a stock market and become essentially instruments
of financial speculation. And that's really the only kind of
pathway out. We even saw this with band Camp, that
you know, this company that was internally profitable and doing

(27:57):
things the way that regular old business is supposed to operate,
you know, and releasing their financials every year and you know.

Speaker 3 (28:05):
Really doing it by the book, so to speak.

Speaker 5 (28:07):
There that the endpoint, you know, ten ish years down
the road was getting bought by a bigger company because
what they had built was valuable to Epic Games. And
you know, there's been speculation about why Epic bought band Camp,
but you know, whatever the reason was, it wasn't because
they were taking all the boxes as a profitable business,
every step with the way. That might have been part

(28:27):
of it, but the idea was that band Camp had
become something more valuable and that they could cash out.
You know, I think it was two hundred and eighty
something million dollars, which is a big chunk of change,
and that, you know, the decision to cash out was
made by the founder. There was likely other people who
had input into the decision, but there was certainly wasn't

(28:48):
you know, a team that was you know, having a
deliberation and making a.

Speaker 3 (28:51):
Consent based decision about how to do that. It was
one guy and he signed the paperwork and that was it.

Speaker 5 (28:57):
So the idea of Exit to the community is it's
essentially been an invitation to explore alternatives, alternatives that are
more in alignment with building the world that we're actually
trying to see. So for us, that means, you know,
first of all, creating something that is financially viable, you know,
that can actually support the work that it takes to

(29:19):
both maintain the platform and maintain accountability to the people
who are using platform, particularly the musicians, so that those
relationships need to get built. There needs to be enough
trust in order to feel like this is actually a
thing worth continuing to do together. And then there's also
the work of having it be essentially used enough that

(29:43):
the math works out that the work that it takes
to sustain the platform can be supported, and the work
that it takes to make music can be supported, because ultimately,
this is a platform that is trying to move money
into musicians' pockets. So if we can pull that off,
then the next step is the exit to community step,
which the way I see it, would be essentially co

(30:04):
designing a set of agreements about how the system will
continue to be tended to moving forward in ways that
are directly accountable to the people who are involved in
making it go themselves.

Speaker 2 (30:19):
Right.

Speaker 3 (30:20):
So in this case, you know, we see.

Speaker 5 (30:22):
The community as kind of broadly comprised of three different groups,
not like groups of people that all hang out together
and do stuff together, but like there's kind of three
kinds of contributions that are getting made.

Speaker 3 (30:35):
One is the people who are working on developing the software.

Speaker 5 (30:39):
This is an open source software project, so there's been
a lot of inputs from a lot of different people.
Of that, of course, the work of maintaining an open
source software project requires resourcing, but that's one of the groups.
Another group is the musicians, the people who are you
making stuff that they put on the platform. And another
is the people who are listening and the people who

(31:00):
we're supporting with you know, with patronage, with money, right,
and and some people might be in all three of
those categories, you know, So it's not like there's your
one or the other, but those three things all have
really important and important stake in the sustainability of the
overall operations. So the exit to community step would be

(31:21):
essentially designing standards, protocols, agreements, whatever you want to call
it for how we do this work moving.

Speaker 3 (31:28):
Forward, and then we can get out of the way
if we want, you know. So that's the other part
of it.

Speaker 5 (31:33):
The other part of it, too, of an exit is
how do you make sure that the founders are whole,
you know, so that it's not like we've put all
this work into making something possible and then it's working
and then everyone's like, oh, yeah, screw you, get out
of here. We're ready to take this on our os
and we're hoping that doesn't happen either. So figuring out
that is also a part of the's what's before us.

(31:56):
My aspiration and my vision for this is that culture
of consent that we're baking into the worker stage of
this right now. Can be something that continues to be
a core aspect of how we move forward. In other words,
once we really see who all the stakeholders are, let's
come up with a creative way to figure out how

(32:17):
this is going to work that everybody can consent to them.

Speaker 2 (32:19):
I think that's a good place of transition to the
last thing I wanted to ask, which is, you know,
you've both came from projects that kind of fizzled, and
this is the thing that happens a lot of time
with projects like this, So what is the sort of
plan to make sure that this is not like the
next in a pile of of people who tried to
do this that did work.

Speaker 4 (32:42):
We've been having a lot of conversations around that because
there have been like public reflections happening about the final
years of ampled, so that there's some reflections around those
things that you can find those on the internet. Well,
so the things I'm thinking about is you really have
to think about what it means to be successful. And
it's possible to claim that success is you know, we

(33:06):
go toe to toe with band camp or Patreon and
we beat them at the game of being a VC
funded startup, but we do it with volunteer and you know,
grassroots money support. And I guess that is a way
of thinking of success. It's not my personal way of
thinking of success. So a way of thinking of success

(33:28):
for me is more, you know, what's the end result?
What are we hoping to do? What are we hoping
to prefigure? Is it a more resilient community of people
who are willing to go into a next step together?
And in that way, I feel like you could say
that Resonate and Ampled they fizzled, but they both created

(33:54):
spaces where people found each other and try to do
the next thing. And I feel like that is very
much the project of organizing prior to global socialism or whatever.
Is looking at what we did and learning from it

(34:14):
and moving forward and trying again because we have to
try again. And I feel like that is kind of
the big picture question. We have some stuff in place
that we're doing to make our project a bit more resilient.
The consent stuff is part of that that Alex just described.
Other parts of that is that we from the get

(34:36):
go decided to do things publicly and bring in people
as quickly as possible. I was the original programmer for
the platform, but in the past month, I have been
the honestly one of the smallest contributors to the platform.
We've just had people stepping up in really incredible ways.

(34:57):
Truly appreciate it. We've had people stepping in during this campaign.
They've been making videos, they've been making art. Yeah, just
the way that the community is stepping in and like
wanting to be a success, I think is this great
example of what it is we can achieve if we

(35:18):
if we're willing to, you know, let people into the
process of doing that. There are a lot of questions
there about who and what is doing that supporting, so
that is something that we're constantly checking in on. And
I think also a metric of success is who is
interacting with the platform. Especially at Resonate, they did a

(35:38):
really good job of bringing in the folks from Black
Socialists of America were involved. There were people who had
experience of cooperation Jackson who were involved. They did a
really good job of diversifying the crowd of people who
were not the standard I don't know, like open source
tech people, which is a very white, you know, susset
mail situation, and we we're trying to take from those

(36:04):
and learn from those and thinking about what spaces we
present ourselves in, like very intentional outreach to people to
open up through cultural work, through conversations that are very
local focused, to create space where we're talking about these things.

Speaker 5 (36:22):
Yeah, and I think for me, the idea of success
too has to do with our needs getting met, you know,
because Spotify is not meeting people's needs. Sorry, it's just
I mean, I guess it's meeting some people's needs, not
meeting very many people.

Speaker 2 (36:38):
Yeah, yeah, I mean they just fired like not literally
their entire podcasting division, but an unbelievably large number of
extremely talented people got fired. Oh really and it yeah,
it really sucks.

Speaker 3 (36:49):
That's really interesting.

Speaker 5 (36:51):
Yeah, you know, not operating on the same scale that
Spotify is actually making it work matters, you know. And
my hope is that, first of all, that individual artists
start to see this as a place that you know,
they can kind of get their crew around them, and
that this can be a really a nice reliable source

(37:13):
of additional income in their careers, help them pay rent.
Like when I was on Ampled, you know, I was
bringing in like one hundred dollars a month or something
like that, which isn't that much because I was doing
it on a very small scale, but it made a
big difference in my everyday life in terms of making
space to make music a part of it. And I
know how I lean into that a little bit more.
There could be you know, a significant chunk of change

(37:35):
coming through something like this to support just the ongoing
paying rent while making art, which is the thing.

Speaker 4 (37:41):
On that note, another thing that I think is worth
celebrating is that in the end Ample basically made two
hundred and fifty thousand dollars available to musicians and did
do what it was trying to do in a successful way.

Speaker 5 (37:55):
This is the other thing that I want to aspire
to or you know, define sex us as is our
local scenes starting to work mirror low into the way
that they operate. You know, can this be something that
small independent labels, artists, collectives, niche genres in different places,

(38:17):
you know, DIY spaces, whatever, that this can actually be
a useful tool to make the local space go and
to make it easier for musicians to do what they
do in community in real life, you know, at the
level of local. And we'll see how it goes. We're
just getting started, but I'm really optimistic and looking forward

(38:38):
to continuing to pour energy into that.

Speaker 3 (38:41):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (38:41):
So where can people go to find the platform and
support it if they're interested or get involved.

Speaker 5 (38:46):
Yeah, so we're at Mirrlow dot space. That's the website.
If you go to mirlow dot space, you'll see at
the very top right now, just for a a couple
more days, we've got a kickstarter going to kind of
keep the lights on for the rest of the year.
Would be tremendously grateful for any support from anyone who's
listening today to get us. It's where I need to
get over there, and also at the front page, and

(39:08):
if you scroll down to the bottom, there's links to
email us, find us on GitHub, find our discord.

Speaker 3 (39:13):
There's plenty of ways to plug in and connect. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (39:17):
Yeah, So hoping this all works for the best, and
hoping that there's a way for artists to create music
in ways that are sustainable and not unbelievably exploitative.

Speaker 3 (39:26):
Yeah, thanks so much for having us, man, it's been
truly a pleasure. Yeah, thank you so much.

Speaker 2 (39:32):
Maybe so, yeah, yeah, and this has been it could
happen here and find us in the usual places. Yeah, go,
I don't know, go make trouble for the people who
have what USA.

Speaker 1 (39:46):
It could Happen Here as a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
cool zonemedia dot com or check us out on the
iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
You can find sources for it Could Happen Here update
and monthly at coolzonemedia dot com slash sources. Thanks for listening.

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