The other day I received an e-mail informing me that the music website garageband.com (which predates the Apple music software that bears its namesake by some years) will be discontinued effective July 15.
Garageband.com was an interesting concept in new-music-discovery at a time, just after the Napster mess and the death of mp3.com, when folks were up for trying just about anything. The concept was this: musicians upload songs; then people go, listen to songs chosen at random, and submit reviews of them, and via the ratings you give, songs are ranked. Artists whose songs topped the rankings would receive such prizes as music gear, or the grand prize, a signing with garageband.com’s own record label. To ensure some level of participation, as well as to avoid people uploading a glut of stuff just to see what might stick, musicians earned their uploads by doing reviews. If you weren’t a musician, your motivation for doing reviews was, I guess, to discover some new artists you might like.
Of course nowadays, and in hindsight, it’s easy to look at this model and understand why it didn’t really work that well. For instance just about the whole userbase was struggling musicians, reviewing each other, or if you want to look at it this way, reviewing their competition. For one thing, the musical taste of musicians, as a group, tends to differ from that of the general public. Also, reviewers were required to include a short paragraph about what they thought of the song, and the reviews were actually themselves reviewed by the artists, supposedly in order to keep people sincere. But in reality it just ended up being overcomplicated. Most people don’t want to have to explain why they liked a song after they hear it, especially not the very first time they hear it. But many of the changes to the landscape of the music business that we now have become pretty much used to were in those days pretty unresolved and nobody had any idea what the shape of the music business was going to look like once the dust settled, so garageband.com seemed as viable a concept as anything anyone else was trying. These days the garageband.com folks are behind iLike, and it appears they’ve finally decided which venture is working out better.
I was a member on garageband.com for a long time, uploaded quite a bit of No Consensus and Exit Drills stuff, and hung out in the site’s forums, which is were I think the real win was there. Those forums had a really great community. Eventually I drifted away, but I communicated with some really great fellow musicians on garageband.com, had a lot of laughs, and even discovered a couple really good bands. One of those bands was The Nuevos.
Shortly after reading the email notice that garageband.com was closing up, I got about 20 automated messages from the site of a kind that you can sign up for to be notified what a band you like has uploaded new songs, telling me that The Nuevos had somehow just uploaded about 20 songs to garageband.com all at once. Wow. I had just about forgotten about The Nuevos, whom I had even had some mail correspondence with at one time, from which I still have a CD-R of some of their early demos, but it was crazy having not had any news about them for so long, and suddenly they hear that garageband.com is closing down so they decide to upload 20 damn songs to it. I haven’t listened to them yet, but I plan to and you should too because The Nuevos are pretty good. They’re all downloadable too, it looks like.