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Summit conversation: Anil Dash and Dapwell

There’s really no introduction that can do this proper justice. Anil Dash and Ashok Kondabolu, better known to some as Dapwell, talk about tech, music, and the culture that surrounds it all. Just watch it.

This is really the first of series that we’re hoping to expand into a true community conversation and learning effort. Much more on that soon, and more on our upcoming summits here.

Anil Dash and Dapwell

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MozFest here we come!

Hello!

We’ve had an amazing and extremely busy first half of 2014 over here and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. Our summits in Chicago and New York were incredible - full of amazing conversations, great ideas, and inspiring people. Thanks so much to all the fantastic people that came out, participated, and helped support them. There’s a lot of moving parts to making those events happen and we most definitely couldn’t do it alone.

We wanted to share some really exciting news and let you know about a little bit of a schedule change for the remaining upcoming summits in Seattle and Atlanta.

First things first, the big news: we’re headed to London this fall (!!!) where we will be helping organize the music track at this year’s MozFest. We are over the moon about this development. Mozilla and CASH obviously share a very similar vision for building open source solutions to real problems. We are honored and excited to be asked to be a part of their yearly festival.

MozFest will be held on October 24-26 at Ravensbourne. It’s a collaborative event and as such is currently seeking proposals for sessions. We’d love you to take part if you’ve got a great discussion you’d like to curate, a hack you’d like to work, or an awesome brainstorming session you’d like it lead. All ideas are welcomed. Proposals will be accepted until August 22nd and we look forward to reading yours.

Lastly, as mentioned above, the summit schedule has changed for 2014. We had originally planned to host the Seattle summit in late August. Unfortunately it turns out that August/September is literally the WORST time to host anything related to music or technology in the Northwest. Nearly every weekend there seemed to be some established festival or conference already happening, between MFNW, Bumbershoot, OSCON, Pickathon, and XOXO we were doomed to have a sub par event. We just weren’t willing to do that, we want the summits to be full of the best and brightest people in their respective fields. So we decided we had to move it to mid November.

Right now we’re working on the premise that the Seattle summit will be the weekend of November 15 & 16 and are in the process of securing venues and speakers. That also means the Atlanta summit, originally scheduled for November, will be moving to February 2015. We’re sorry for the schedule change but we know it means better events all around. We’ll be posting more details as we have them.

There are a ton of really exciting things going on over here between platform development, artist programs, learning initiatives, and events. Expect to hear more news from us soon on all fronts. We know we’ve been quiet but don’t expect us to be that way for much longer. We’ve got a whole lot up our sleeves.

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Quick preview of the new admin interface

Hi there.

We’ve been so busy lately that we haven’t been posting updates nearly enough. So I thought I’d put up a bit of a preview of the work we’ve been doing on a new admin app for the platform:

new interface
New interface preview video

In the video you’ll see a lot of the new layout in action — both on the desktop and how it looks as it scales down to a phone. It’s also faster than before, and we’ve added a lot of little touches responding to feedback. (Form validation for input, loading indicators, lots of bug fixes, etc.)

There’s a lot more we’ll be putting in before this goes live. Things like activity feeds, better views for section pages, easier element creation and template editing, etc. This is just the start!

Let us know what you think.

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Something awesome happened

We’ve got some big news.

That’s usually how acquisition talk starts. And that seems like the theme of the week. But not here. If anything all of the acquisitions and changes to the landscape in music and tech have reminded us why — now more than ever — an open, nonprofit, and artist driven solution is needed for the sake of music.

Open source means control for musicians. Nonprofit means we can’t be acquired by a company that could compromise our mission of sustainability for artists. The combination means we can do some amazing things.

And thanks to the Shuttleworth Foundation we know we’ll be doing those things for the conceivable future.

I’ve been awarded a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship to push CASH Music forward like never before. Until now we’ve moved more slowly than I’d like, operating as a two-person organization never more than five or six weeks from our last paycheck. We’ve had to be nimble, cut corners, and all too often push features to the side to ensure the organization would survive.

The fellowship means we’re planning a full year’s roadmap, starting now and running through March of 2015. It means Maggie and I know we have paychecks coming. It means that we’ll soon be able to bring on some help and build faster and better than ever before. It means 2014 is going to be a big year.

We’re still dealing with a budget smaller than the smallest startup, but we have a budget. For the first time, really. You’ll still see us fundraising, but now the idea is to grow, not just to fight to keep the lights on. We still need your help, but right now we’re in a better position to fight for you than we have ever been.

It’s my name on the fellowship but I can say with no humility that it would never have happened without my partner Maggie Vail, our board, and all of the amazing people who’ve helped us by giving time or money. Thank you one and all for your help and your belief.

The one individual thing I will accept is responsibility. It’s time for us to change the music industry for the better, and the buck stops with me. I want to hear your ideas and your criticisms. Because we can make this great. The Internet has been trending towards closed silos of tech and data. It’s broken. Together we can fix it and make it work for musicians.

We’ll be sharing more plans soon. Let’s change the world together. Starting now.

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What is CASH Music and why is it important?

I work a lot. I’ve always worked a lot. I’ve worked at least a 40 hour work week since I was 19 years old. I think it’s safe to say that in the last two and half years since I started working at CASH Music I work at least 20 hours more per week than I did at Kill Rock Stars. The good thing is I like to work, especially when it’s something I truly believe in.

As a result of all this working I’ve become a bit of a social recluse. Lately when I do get out I’m often asked what exactly CASH Music is and what it is that we’re trying to do. Sometimes there’s a twinge of “what do you mean you don’t know what I’m spending all my time doing?!” and then I remember this is a massive, ambitious, and multi-faceted effort that we’re in the middle of building. It’s not just a simple product that’s easily explained, this is a life’s work in progress. It is really important and if executed the way that we envision we believe will ensure a healthy option for all musicians moving forward. This means everything to me.

My partner, Jesse von Doom, and I have a vision and a very solid plan towards a sustainable future for the organization. That said, right now we need help getting there. We are currently raising funds via a Kickstarter campaign for a series of summits in 2014.

Because I sadly can’t speak with everyone on the phone or in person I’ve broken down the important parts of who we are and what we’re doing into ten simple points:

What is CASH Music?

1) CASH Music is a nonprofit organization. We are a tiny staff of just two people. Our board is made up of 16 people. Since we are a nonprofit none of us can own CASH Music. This is important.

2) Our mission is to help empower artists for a more sustainable future in this digital age. We believe that an important part of helping artists includes helping artist friendly labels, managers, publicists, etc.

3) We build digital tools. Jesse has spent the last six years building a massive platform, project by project, directly with artists and labels. The platform can be downloaded and used on your own site or you can use our hosted version, currently in beta. Right now the platform can do things like digital sales, download codes, email list management, email collection, etc. Later we will be adding features like a full shopping cart, a subscription service, and much much more. All of our tools are open source. This is also important.

4) Our tools are, and always will be, free to use. We are unwavering on this stance. We believe giving artists access to basic online tools is an important part of sustainability.

5) We believe artists should own their own data. All information collected by our platform can be exported at any time.

6) Because we are a nonprofit we cannot be bought or sold. We also cannot take investment. Since we build all of our tools using an open source license this means that even if CASH as an org for some reason dissolved, the code would still exist and live on. Both of these things are very, very important to us and we think very, very important to the future of music online.

7) Education is also a key component of our mission. It’s vital that artists have free access to information and resources that will help them manage and navigate their careers in an ever changing landscape. Education, both online and in person, will be a big part of 2014 for us.

8) We think musician’s perspectives are often missing in the current discussions about the future of music. We believe their voices are necessary to the conversation. We’ve launched a series of summits designed to make sure they are heard.

9) The CASH Music Summits bring artists and technologists together. The conversations started in these events will influence our educational goals, our platform, and hopefully many other projects. We want to foster a new form of collaboration that can lead to new understanding of the intersection of technology and music, leaving real change in its wake.

10) We think that music is one of the most important parts of being alive. We want to help the people that make it survive.

We need your help to make this happen. If you believe that what we are working on is important please consider donating to our Kickstarter campaign, spreading the word, or getting involved. We have seven days left to raise over $15,000 dollars. That’s a lot of money in a very short time. I know we can do but we can’t do it alone.

THANK YOU!

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This is my life’s work. I want you to have it.

Yesterday someone told me my passion doesn’t translate to video. They’re right. I look into a camera and explain, where face to face I can’t help but dream out loud and argue for the things that matter to me.

In Los Angeles last weekend I got up on stage to say thank you to everyone who came out to the small summit event we threw. I had just seen six people I admire kick ideas around, and was following directly on a moving conversation between a mentor and a hero. The emotion of the day was huge. The support from people on stage and off was amazing. There was the pressure of fundraising and the feeling that this could be an ending but knowing instead that it’s a new beginning.

I stood there trying to find the right words. It felt like minutes but after a few seconds I heard my self say “Thank you. CASH Music — the summits, the code, all of it — this has become my life’s work and I want you to have it all.”

It was the most sincere and spontaneous thing I’ve ever said on stage. I couldn’t really finish, but I wanted to explain. We’ve built CASH as a nonprofit and with open code on purpose. The idea from the start was to build up community, build for that community, and just be a part of something bigger. Seeing that come to life was a lot to weigh.

I try to say thank you to musicians when they create art that touches my life. Those musicians are the reason I push on when things are hard, scary, or downright overwhelming. Starting a nonprofit is hard. Starting a nonprofit without an endowment or even a savings account is maybe crazy. But the whole time I think about how hard musicians work to create the music that reaches so many of us. I think about Jamie Stewart, Erin McKeown, Ted Leo, Kristin Hersh, and so many more. I’ve said thank you to some of them, but CASH Music is how I try to give back when I can’t say more.

Last year I got to meet Ian MacKaye and talk about his work, the work we’re doing, and the world at large. The whole time I wanted to tell him what his music had meant to me but I just couldn’t. Maggie introduced us. We all sat and drank tea. It was nice. He drove us back to the train station and I said thank you. Not for the ride, but for everything. He just didn’t know it.

So when I think about how my passion doesn’t come out on video I think of that day.

I think about how, as CASH Music, Maggie and I are constantly fighting for our lives, for the privilege to do this work. We risk too much for little personal upside. Sometimes I look at my kids and think about the life I could give them if I’d just fucking get a job at a tech company already, wishing I could turn away from this fight.

But finding a real and sustainable future for music is too important to me. The arts as a whole and music as my own passion are just too important. I look at my kids and think of a world where music is only as creative as commerce allows and I can’t idly let that happen.

These summits we’re trying to do in 2014 are the way forward for CASH Music. They are how we connect to musicians and technologists. They are how we build community. They are how we build educational materials and new tools for artists to use. The summits are how we make sure that we wear our passions on our sleeves and never leave off a thank you or come across flat.

Raising money for these summits is us fighting to keep moving forward.

Please support us.

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Our Mission.

CASH Music is a nonprofit organization focused on educating and empowering artists and their fans to foster a viable and sustainable future for music. We believe the best way to ensure a sustainable future for music is to invest in its creators. Learn more.

Community is vital. We can't do this alone. Please get in touch, join the mailing list, or support our organization by donating or buying a shirt. Together we can ensure a healthy future for musicians everywhere.

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