If rappers were start-ups, New York would be Silicon Valley, the venerable ecosystem know for producing the best talent. Chris Lighty has managed the careers of some of biggest local names: 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, P Diddy and LL Cool J, just to name a few.
Now Lighty has partnered with developer Michael Dizon to create Please Listen to My Demo, a simple service that lets artists submit their music through the web and receive feedback from professional A&R. The best music will not only be fast tracked towards a deal, but will get air play on Hot 97.
Dizon, a full time denizen of General Assembly and frequent presences at hackathons, says the service could save artists a lot of time and money. “Instead of dropping thousands or even tens of thousands on studio time, without knowing if you’ve got a commercially viable product, users can upload an MP3 and get constructive feedback.” The site does charge a small fee for submissions in the hopes of weeding out less professional aspirants.
There are no social media components to the site, no way to share tracks with the masses or correspond with fans. Without any way to build a community there, the project will depend entirely on success stories from applicants and the ability of mainstream radio to drive interest.
“We’re sure many artists out there have at one time or another mailed off a demo to a record label, hoping that among the thousands of demos labels receive each year, yours might be listened to and if the stars were aligned correctly you’d hear back from them,” writes Lighty. “Times have changed. The Internet has democratized a lot of things, from videos to photos, social connections, and most importantly, music. We want to take it a step further by connecting artists and managers of artists directly with record label A&Rs to listen, critique and collaborate.”
Please Listen to My Demo seems like an interesting opportunity for artists, but it doesn’t really do anything to “democratize” the process of finding talent. Groups that build a native fan base online and parley success on Myspace or Youtube into a recording career, are the ones that will truly experience the disruptive promise provided by the web.