What do you do when you hear a great song for the first time?
If you’re like many music fans, you hightail it to your computer or whip out your smartphone, track down the artist, download the content (legally, of course), and move on with your life. Ariagora wants to change that.
“It’s not just about content,” said Emrys Landivar, co-founder and president of Ariagora. “Our whole idea is to connect the fan and the artist. And we’re going to do that through crowd funding.”
The team, participating in GigTank this summer, wants to give fans financial ownership of musical content. Instead of simply purchasing a song for $1.29 from iTunes, fans will purchase “keys,” to a piece of content. The more money that a fan is willing to pay, the more keys the fan will receive – and the more ownership the fan will have. Ultimately, Ariagora aims to make fans a more integral part of the music industry, enabling them to profit off of the content that they enjoy while strengthening their association with the bands they love.
Landivar, 29, said the artists will control the keys to their content, selling them directly to fans. The fans can then buy and sell the keys among themselves, creating a musical marketplace – hence the name Ariagora.
“’Aria’ is a vocal solo in Italian,” explained Anthony Broussard, 24, the team’s technology and web developer. “And ‘agora’ is the Greek word for marketplace.”
Like any currency, the keys will fluctuate in value; everything, Landivar said, will be set by market prices. The keys will be backed only by the guarantee that there are a limited number available and that there won’t be more in the future.
But fans won’t be the only ones benefiting.
“A much higher percentage of money will go directly to the artists than with something like iTunes,” said Asher Pembroke, who originally came up with the concept. In fact, artists will see more than 95 percent of the proceeds from each transaction. And participation in Ariagora will not require artists to sacrifice intellectual property rights.
With the technology in place, the team is turning its focus to recruiting participants for their beta testing. About 10 artists currently are on board, including several Chattanooga-based bands, and the fan base is growing.
“If we were doing this on our own, the connections would have been impossible,” Pembroke, 29, said. “With the GigTank, we don’t have to spend all out time trying to meet people.”
The team’s breadth of skills – and academic degrees – has also helped move the process along. Between the five teammates, there are three scientists, an attorney, a seasoned web developer and several well-connected musicians.
But the teammates don’t simply complement each other. More importantly, they share the same vision and values.
“We all agree that we want a way for artists to make a living through their music,” Landivar said. “It requires us to solve some very difficult problems. But we think we’ve made a system where everyone can win.”