Evan Baken, formerly of The Movielife, has founded a new online music store, EftMega, which has the interest of the artist and the consumer at heart.
EftMega gives musicians a place to sell their music, while retaining the rights. Fans have a place to find music that may be meaningful to them personally, instead of what is popular or mainstream.
Baken answered a few questions about EftMega and what makes is different from other online music sites.
What was the catalyst for thinking of EftMega?
I’ve been disenchanted with the music business since my old band signed our first deal with Revelation Records way back when. The industry was a necessary evil – you needed to get your music in stores, you needed to get your music out to as many people in as many places as possible, so we really had no choice. When you have no choice or less choices, the deals you get end up being less than favorable. I’ve been working in this biz for almost 20 years now and the problems are still so insane. Most artist deals are still lopsided, most labels want you for a long term, and own your albums and pieces of your publishing, touring and merch. At this point – all that comes at a time when labels can’t even sell your music. It makes no sense that they should have more and offer you less. Everyone talks about the good of the internet opening up limitless possibilities for artists to reach people today which is true but there still isn’t a good platform to bring all this in and focus consumers and show them the right artists, the ones worth their time. Most platforms don’t convince consumers to pay, most want bands to do all the work and most don’t effectively expose artists – they’re filled with acts that aren’t serious, aren’t full time and aren’t worth the attention. I wanted to create a site that fixed all these issues and not only served to help artists today but also would have helped my band way back when. The idea that there is a place that would get our music out to people, let us keep ownership of our albums, and show everyone just how hard we were working is a good thing for me and the industry at large. So, because none of that existed I built it myself.
Have you had a good response from bands that use it?
Yeah, everything has been great. We designed the artist pages a little differently than other sites. When you first come to a page, you get the music first as opposed to the bios and other basic info. That page can be skinned and colored to match an artist’s website so it’s as close to seamless as we can get. The idea is that people will be coming to these pages in one of two ways – entering eftmega.com and searching from there or by going from an artist’s website or social media. So when you come from an artist’s website you don’t really need the bios and other info since it already lives on their own site – we wanted to focus on the music and make it more of an extension of the artist’s website. From there you have the option of extending the page and getting all the other basic info, which is helpful for people entering from eftmega.com. I think it’s a good mix of both scenarios and so far the artists seem to dig it. I think the artists also like the scene classifications and how that all ties in together to create a better picture of how these bands actually exist and tour.
Is it user-friendly for consumers that want to buy albums?
I think so. It’s pretty easy to listen to things, to save stuff to check out later, and find more artists in the scenes of artists you like, and then expand that search to other areas. Plus every album you buy can be accessed and re-downloaded over and over again. There are some other features we will add in the future to help with the search capabilities, but overall it’s pretty basic and easy to get around. Plus there’s a section with interviews, blogs and other articles which people will hopefully enjoy.
What is the difference between a scene and specific scene?
So to me, the scene is made up of the area you are based, and the style of music in that community and the ethic of the people in it. The specific scene dives a little deeper to the sound of your band in that community. For my old band, our scene was Long Island Hardcore, and it that scene there were bands like VOD and Milhouse, and Glassjaw who we had a certain bond with but sounded nothing like. Our styles separated us, but the overall scene united us. So the specific scene is just what defines your sound, or in our case it’s what separated us from those bands and aligned us better with bands like Silent Majority and Brand New.
I read your article, “Am I coming in clear?” Seems like excellent advice. Would you have listened to someone in a band rather than someone with a record company?
At the time, no. We had plenty of advice from people in bands. One lunch with Chris Carrabba he was telling us not to sign with Drive Thru, and all about his time there and to wait just like he did and explore every option. We were just stupid, we got an idea in our head and it just became all we wanted. We had an experience on Revelation and we convinced ourselves that Drive Thru was the complete opposite- that they would support us differently and have the money and resources to help us compete with bigger bands, and in the end it was like being on the same label. Each one had a budget, and each one did very little beyond their initial marketing plan. Once we started to see other bands on the label get TV play and tour opportunities over us, we just got so resentful and bitter – it was an immediate downward spiral that we couldn’t escape from. Bands are stubborn, and we got to where we were by doing things our way and we were too impatient to listen to anyone else.
What’s the goal? What do you really want to accomplish with EftMega?
I want this to be the best way music is sold, connected and exposed for touring musicians. I want artists to get what they deserve- money for their art, a loyal following because they were able to build a proper fanbase, and I want customers to get good value. Pop music can have radio charts, streaming, and fair weather fanbases built around product placement, and choreography. I want to have the best system for discovering new music and supporting touring artists worldwide, because that’s what artists deserve. Right now we are only able to support artists in the US and Canada, so I’d love to be everywhere and I’d love to make the site experience and community bigger and more interactive. The ultimate goal for me is that when a new band puts out an album and decides to give a career in music a go, this is the only place they want to be at, and there are enough fans there to make it meaningful.
Is this your main project right now?
This is my one and only project for the past two years now. Been working on this a long, long time since it was a business plan in graduate school. I don’t know if people know just how much time goes into making a website like this, from the planning, to the web spec, to the technical spec, the front end design, the metric, all the site text, getting artists on board, etc. Lots of time, lots of work. Lots of help.
How many bands have signed up so far?
We’ve got 43 bands signed up so far. Our goal was 50 bands by the end of the three months, so since we just started month number two we are looking pretty good. I’m really appreciative of the artists who have come on board and taken a chance with the site considering all the current platforms out there. The hardest part is getting people to buy in at the beginning and these bands have really gotten behind the idea and helped fill the site with good music and helped spread the word, so a big thank you to all of them, and I’m hopeful more artists will come and the word will continue to spread.