James Blake reveals Vault app that unlocks unreleased music

0 0

Musician James Blake recently made headlines for his criticism of modern music economics for artists and songwriters.

“Streaming services don’t pay properly, labels want a bigger cut than ever and just sit and wait for you to go viral, TikTok doesn’t pay properly, and touring is getting prohibitively expensive for most artists,” he tweeted, before hinting that he had found an alternative model to explore.

Now we know what that is: an app called Vault whose pitch to artists is “drop music on your own terms: let fans subscribe to unlock unreleased music straight from your vault”. It has launched this week with Blake as the first artist to try it out.

“I wanted to find a way for musicians to make money directly from the music they make, not least to be able to reinvest in the very expensive process of renting studios, hiring musicians etc,” he said in a video announcing Vault.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of artists who feel frustrated that so much great music goes unreleased because it doesn’t meet certain requirements or trends… Vault are trying to tackle this exact problem, and it made sense that we join forces to find a fairer way for artists.”

Blake’s vault currently offers three tracks, and can be unlocked for $5 a month. One obvious question: how does this work when an artist is signed to a label? Blake was asked about this on Twitter and offered this response.

“For artists currently signed to labels drops within Vault·fm will be a negotiation with them and each track would be subject to usual deal splits, unless the music was made outside of the terms of the deal,” he wrote. “For independent artists there’s more freedom and you wouldn’t be splitting it with a label.”

[Blake puts his recorded music out through UMG’s Republic Records, so has clearly already had this negotiation with the label.]

In another reply Blake said that Vault will include chatrooms for fans to talk to artists, and text notifications when new music is uploaded. He also claimed that artists will “own the data” – always a question around new startups of this kind.

That’s the other challenge for Vault: it has lots of competition, from established platforms like Bandcamp and Patreon to the latest wave of superfan-community startups (Fave, Medallion, Kazm, Modhaus, We Are Giant, Afterparty, Fireside and more.

Competition is good for driving innovation, but it can also generate wariness from artists, unsure which of the jostling platforms will be around for the long term.

Still, it’s always interesting to see artists with criticism of the streaming economy seek partnerships to address the problems that they see. We’ll be following with interest to see who else Vault can sign up in the coming weeks and months.

You may also like...