It’s not easy being a musical genius. Apart from all the time you spend wrestling with big metaphysical questions and plumbing the depths of the human psyche, you also have to learn instruments and how to sing real good.
And after all that work, success is still far from guaranteed. No matter how naturally gifted you are or how brilliant your logo is, you might never be 'discovered'. A life of pub backroom busking awaits.
Tradiio wants to help fix that. As is becoming a tradition for web startups, rather than relying on The Man to tell us what’s hip, it lets the crowd decide which artists are worthy of discovery. The idea is to give artists exposure, to increase the user’s musical kudos - and potentially even to net the labels their next big stars.
But that’s not the interesting bit. The interesting bit is how Tradiio goes about it.
Tricks of the trade
As its name suggests, Tradiio's USP is its ability to trade on your musical tastes. This iOS, Apple Watch, Android and web app has a transactional model at its core that functions like a genuine stock market.
When you join, it greets you with a gift of 4050 ‘coins’ - a digital currency that you can invest in any of the artists in its roster. Listen to bands and artists who have uploaded streams of their music for free, and if you like, give them some digi-cash.
The artists with the greatest investment rise to the top of the market. If you're an early investor, the value of your investment grows as the profile of the artist does - and if you later sell your share, you’ll get more back than you put in.
Sounds neat. But why would you bother? “You can swap your coins for real rewards: festival tickets, merchandising, Sonos speakers,” says Tradiio’s founder Alvaro Gomez. “We are working on creating new experiences, so if you’ve invested in a band and they're going to play in a venue, you’ll have direct access to the guest list. These are things you can’t buy.”
There are some less tangible but equally important draws for Tradiio’s traders, too. “Our core user is interested in discovering new music, but also wants to be involved in the music and play his part. Users can express themselves through the artists they think are most promising. This is the key - ‘I was the guy that discovered this artist’.”
In other words, don’t underestimate how much truck a beardy music fanatic will place in, say, listening to Arctic Monkeys before they joined Myspace.
For the artists, the benefit is exposure. “It’s a way for artists to connect directly with this middle stream of players - venues, clubs, estates - with the aim to accelerate the beginning of their career. Tradiio is a new way to distribute and expose their music, but we also have active partnerships with Universal Music, the biggest festivals in Portugal, and the Field Day festival in London (where there’s a stage filled with popular acts from Tradiio). We’ve started to create an ecosystem around Tradiio to give artists new opportunities.”
Mo money, mo opportunities
Music is a notoriously difficult industry to enter, so for now Tradiio’s team is focused on building the community, refining the trading dynamic and creating partnerships with venues and events across Europe. It's a model that's netted Tradiio’s team €1.1m of funding and a spot on the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in London, alongside Pointr and Iddo. But the long-term aim is grander still: they want to become, as Gomez puts it, “the NASDAQ of emerging artists”.
“Today we’re in the crowdsourcing space, but we will move to crowdfunding,” says Gomez. Instead of those coins being virtual, he wants them to be real: real rights ownership over music for real money. Which would mean real risk, but also real rewards for wise investments.
In this way Tradiio would differentiate itself from intriguing failures such as mFlow, which allowed you to recommend tracks to followers and gain cash credit if they purchased them. For Tradiio, your investments wouldn’t be about buying particular tracks, but a future portion of an artist’s success.
As Gomez points out, transitioning to crowdfunding will be far from simple: the industry is still working out how to make rights function in a digital age, and splitting ownership into shares will make ownership more complicated still.
For now the best reason to try Tradiio is to browse through the app's smartly arranged new and trending sections (like I said, it's all free to access) and making a punt here and there. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be first to unearth an exciting new artist - 30,000 other users are already jockeying to do the same thing - but there's still plenty of opportunity to get in early and make a little pseudo-dosh. For anyone who considers themself a bit of a muso, this could become addictive - and that suggests Tradiio might be on to something.