make money for your music with this one weird trick

make money for your music with this one weird trick

Something that I think everyone can more or less agree on is that musicians simply do not make enough money through current mainstream channels of revenue. English electronic musician James Blake summarized this financial can of worms in a tweet on March 3rd:

I'm with you so far, James.

Friend-o-the-blog Kabir Kumar, who records excellent alt-pop music as Sun Kin, was the one who made me aware of James' initial tweet turning into a potential biz opportunity. They pointed out that eight days after that initial viral tweet about paying for music, James Blake already was having "some great conversations with like minds" and conveniently had "landed on a nice solution."

Nine days later, the announcement is here: a service called has arrived, and it will help artists make more money. How? By monetizing their unreleased music. Vault will "show music has inherent value beyond exposure"; James appears to be the first participant in this particular business model, which charges $5 a month for access to James' bits and bobs, plus a way to "chat with [James]" about all the errant tunage.

That means that James Blake shared his thoughts about the unfairness of music pay on March 3rd, had a conversation with a company fruitful enough to create a partnership in just eight days, then launched the company as its flagship artist another nine days later. Do people still buy this kind of hustle grindset marketing? I suppose Twitter blue check folks do; an account called bowen felix tweeted "the only thing i’m pissed about is that @jamesblake came up with onlyfans for artists before i did," which James RT'd, which is kind of funny, I guess.

In his announcement tweet, James Blake said "We are launching @vaultdotfm." But in the video, he claimed Vault was something already in the works, and that the Vault folks reached out to James "after his tweets did the rounds." I would be curious to see what kind of financial relationship James has to Vaulter—whether he is an artist-contractor of sorts, an investor, an ambassador?

Against my better judgment, I signed up for to poke around a bit. Their main sign-in format is with a phone number, so I look forward to getting texted by until I die. I wanted to see if anyone else besides James Blake was on Vault. As of now, it looks like he's the only artist on the platform. When you visit "", it defaults to ""

The other interesting thing about the design and verbiage around Vault is the focus on unreleased music, demonstrated with the below header image on their About page, which encourages you to subscribe to artists to enjoy their unreleased tracks, which have titles like "filename_23.mp3" and "AUDIO_1.WAV." As Leonardo DiCaprio repeats at the end of The Aviator, truly, this is the way of the future.

Side note, when I hear "Vault," I cannot help but think of the fictional publication Vaulter from the HBO television show Succession—a VICE analogue that Kendall Roy acquires, then summarily guts (keeping only the "food and weed" verticals).

Also I tried to poke around Crunchbase, LinkedIn, etc. to see if anyone was a public employee of Vault, and found the company...Vault!, a web3 company devoted to..."collecting exclusive, limited-run music"! And "allow[ing] artists to maximize earnings from their work"! Sheesh this space is flamin' hot right now, like a damn Cheeto.

"With Vault, the artist owns the data," James tweeted. What does that mean? What data? How do you extract it from Vault? Do you get email addresses of your subscribers? Is sharing unreleased music on Vault supposed to replace traditional promotion of songs on social media? And how is this supposed to work for signed artists? James even tweeted that "artists currently signed to labels drops within Vault" will require "a negotiation" and "each track would be subject to usual deal splits." Matter of fact, what's Vault's cut of the revenue? [I emailed Vault with these questions, and I'll update the blog if I get any answers.]

Listen, I am extremely interested in people trying out new ways to make artists more money. I'm not tech-negative at all! I'm a child of the iPod, forged in the fire of MySpace. I went to a deadmau5 concert once to learn what exactly a music NFT was. I'm outside, I'm listening.

i went to a music NFT party (reprint)
I originally published this piece about going to a music NFT party at the Brooklyn Mirage on my Tumblr in June of last year. Clearly I was hankering to blog about music back then. I am republishing the piece on I Enjoy Music today after getting an email from Emanate,

It's just that all of this time and money goes into these new splashy "solutions" and they all end up being...Patreon. Like, James Blake is asking $5 a month for access to an unknowable amount of unreleased tracks. How big is his Vault? Unclear. But pay up, indefinitely, and you'll find out. And then do that again, with as many other artists as you choose.

I think we need to think outside the bun here. This is where I plug my friend (and The Alternative boss) Henderson Cole, who has been working with United Musicians and Allied Workers on The Living Wage for Musicians Act, which would increase streaming pay for artists. This is also where I plug my bud David Turner's now-wrapped newsletter about music business, Penny Fractions, which went in on everything you could ever think of with finance and music (streaming! labels! TikTok!) and is a super valuable resource.

Why are we asking music fans to pay more subscription money for a grab bag of unreleased odds and ends when Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge got a $150 million compensation package in 2022? Just spitballing here.

Thanks for reading I Enjoy Music. Tell a friend about the blog if ya like it. Big hat tip to Kabir Kumar for the alert to the James Blakification of music finance. They've got an album coming out soon and it's preeeettttyyy freakin good!!