This is the first post I made in August of 2020 on Ampled (an online coop community platform for musicians and supporters that is set to close at the end of 2023):
Welcome, welcome! This is my Ampled page! I found out about this platform from Cherie Hu’s music industry blog (thank you Cherie Hu! You are awesome!). Since the advent of the internet as we know it today, I have had a tumultuous relationship with most social media (well, ever since that time ended on Facebook where you could “poke” people!). I have also had issues with the often exploitative feeling methods of marketing, business, and promotion that go along with the commodification of art (and many other things, but today we’re speaking about art!).
Today, social media is a big part of how we communicate with each other – it’s especially tied into sharing music and the arts. And the most used forms of social media are now owned by for-profit corporations that make decisions to keep increasing profits above any other motivation, resulting in practices that don’t seem to support their employees or user base.
To further express my point, I will recount a story from an episode of a show called Shark Tank. So, in this episode, there was a man who was selected by a shark investor. The man had an idea to make music education materials and employ people in his struggling town. After a year, his company was now employing a lot of people in the town and the business was bringing in over a million dollars a year.
The shark who invested in the man came to the small town for a one year check up. The shark told the man he had done well and now they needed to outsource all labor overseas so the company to “get to the next level”.The man asked why they couldn’t just keep doing what they were doing, when they were doing so well and his hometown was starting to thrive again. The shark answered something like, “because if you’re not doubling your profits every year, you’re dying!” and continued to pressure the man, who eventually found some other way of lowering costs to appease the shark.
This story stuck with me. Contrary to the shark, I believe an entity can grow in a way that is symbiotic with the community it serves/employs and continue existing in this manner without needing to constantly expand. I also wonder what this constant expansion really serves and at whose expense? I think the user base, employees, and environment are footing this (ever expanding) bill.
This profit first mentality guides the operation of many businesses, and social media companies are no exception. I remember when social media platforms treated users fairly and let us retain ownership of the content we uploaded. I remember when users could go onto these platforms without ads bombarding us from all sides. I remember when pages we subscribed to could show us content without having to pay to access our feeds.
The main social medias of today won’t show me all of the people I follow, they pick and choose for me, and there’s no option to tell it to not tailor content to what it thinks I want to see. And if one uses these platforms enough, I would ague, these platforms begin to shape who we are, turning us into who they think we are.
So, why Ampled? I am here because after much searching, I found a platform that pledges to always put artists first – not profits and not investors. It’s a coop structure, meaning one member, one vote (which doesn’t mean there won’t be any issues, but at least it’s more like being part of a democratic system rather than a feudal one where the rulers sacrifice community for the sake of profit. On Ampled, artists own the content they upload, and have actual control over how this content is shared.
Believe it or not, Ampled is the only platform I found operating in this equitable way. No joke! And I want platforms like these to be supported and used. I think social media, like many large businesses and for-profit infrastructures, are operating in an unsustainable way and I want artists to own their art and people who support artists to not be mined for data. So, I’m here on Ampled! Let me know what you think in the comments – you have to login to comment, but I am under the impression you don’t need to be a “supporter” of mine to comment on a public post, but I guess we’ll find out together!
This brings me to my second topic: how I plan to use this platform! So, Ampled gives users the option of being financial “supporters” (with access to all content) or to freely browse public content. Artist have the option to make content public or for supporters only. I plan on making most of my posts accessible to the public. A few will be made for supporters only.
The idea behind this plan is that people who choose to be supporters on Ampled are like supporters of public radio or some kind of program people can access with or without signing up for. The money paid on this platform, for me, is not buying the access to content – it’s supporting something you hope keeps happening for everyone (along with the platform it’s hosted on!!). Ampled is still in a beta phase, which according to the interwebs means “feature complete but likely to contain a number of known or unknown bugs.” So, it’s still in a somewhat early stage, and also a very exciting stage where we all have a chance to shape the media of the future together.
And that’s a wrap for now on why I’m on Ampled and how I plan to use it! Thank you for reading!