Vault: The best new sustainable music platform? 

James Blake has launched Vault, a subscription service for unreleased music, to the public since March.

British singer, songwriter, producer, and DJ James Blake released a new platform named Vault inspired by social media discourse about how streaming platforms and social media are not sustainable ways for artists to make a living solely out of music. 

On the website, Vault explains that “artists can share their unreleased tracks directly from their vault to their fans and tap into a new recurring revenue stream.” The app saw the light on March 21, a few days after Blake communicated his opinions publicly on how social media can be an issue for music artists and their careers. “Music is my life’s purpose and I will not have mine destroyed by a bunch of labels and tech companies who don’t even pay us and exploit us relentlessly,” says Blake in an Instagram post in early March 

Blake shared on his Instagram story that the concept of a subscription-based platform like this one offers an artist some certainty, financially speaking. “I want artists to have less anxiety about what they put out, less fear that it leads to uncertainty,” he said. 

Indeed, this platform revolves around unloading music files from hard drives and displaying any idea that will probably never make it on Spotify, Apple Music, or other streaming platforms. “We’ll never be able to eliminate uncertainty from music, but platforms need to encourage artists to make their favourite, most integral music—not just the big 15-second TikTok moment,” Blake said.

Vault also contains a discussion forum space, allowing fans to discuss the music on the artist’s page and directly message Blake for instance. There is also a mobile app currently in the works, making the private access to the artists’ vault for their fans more accessible.

Blake said the infant stage of this platform is exciting as he shares it with people and how he can get artists to grow their following, heighten their connection with their fans, and make it fun to put out music they love, not just music that works as singles on TikTok. 

He highlighted that this platform is one of the only ones that will focus on getting artists actually paid directly. “The industry has always been an ecosystem of free versus paid.” 

A lot of the reason why music stays unreleased is because of demand-side platforms’ (DSP) limitations which is a type of software that allows solutions for advertisers. “DSP’s favour in certain structures/styles/genres to accept songs onto playlists, to the point where it stifles creativity,” Blake noted in another post. 

Moreover, as of March 28, the platform has announced its first new artist alongside Blake to be American singer Monica Martin. Blake stated in the comment section that “it’s going to be an amazingly diverse, musically exciting place pretty soon.” 

A monthly subscription fee is needed to unlock an artist’s page and all of its content. Blake’s page demands $5 USD per month and Monica Martin’s Vault content requires $2 USD per month. The subscription amount then differs via the artist’s popularity, making up-and-coming artists’ pages more affordable to encourage more people to discover them. Subscribers are also notified of any new drops by a text message to their phone number. Any collaborators who worked on the songs released also benefit from the revenue. 

“Artists are already being robbed worse and legally,” Blake wrote about potential piracy on his platform. He adds that copyright claims are still in effect and the usual copyright laws will protect all music found on Vault. 

Blake said that he’s working to grow his Vault following and show people it’s worth the $5 USD a month. The artist also revealed he’s felt more creatively free this past week than he has since he started in music. 

“Looking forward to more artists joining and seeing what I’m talking about, and for their fans to see what the real world effect of offering an easy-to-use alternative to the DSPs will be,” he shared. 

With new artists joining the platform, Vault will continue to flourish with brand new users every day and evermore cut the middleman between eager fans of music and passionate music artists.

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