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Online Project Archives Music by North Texas Artists

A UTA professor has created a new distribution model — and a potential online community — for musicians.
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Step aside, Spotify, iTunes, and SoundCloud. There’s a new online project for North Texas artists to store their music on their own terms.

This digital music archive is called MusicDetour, and it’s being developed by David Arditi, an assistant professor of sociology at UTA, with collaborators Micah Hayes, Dan Cavanagh, and Dr. Chyng-Yang Jang. The idea for the project formed after Arditi watched bass player Victor Wooten practice with his band.

“I heard his brother, Joe Wooten, saying [he had] passionate support for Napster,” Arditi says. “He was making a statement that he only gets about 10 cents off the sale of every CD, and yet every time somebody downloads music, that’s another person that’s potentially at his show, which is where he made money.”

Record labels and music distribution platforms allow artists to record, upload, and share their music, but that often comes at a price.

And then, there’s MusicDetour.

“What I’m aiming to do with MusicDetour.com is to create an archive of that music that is created and make it freely available to everyone,” Arditi says. “Connected to that is distribution, and I think that distribution of music should be free information.”

According to Arditi, record labels’ distribution of music can be highly exploitative of musicians. Artists only receive a portion of the profits from records sold. Musicians make the majority of their money from tours and merchandise, but that can’t happen if albums aren’t being distributed properly.

“I was just talking to somebody last night, and she was talking about a band she had worked with before who was signed to a contract and recorded an album,” Arditi says. “The record label decides they’re not going to distribute and promote that album for whatever reason and that album just sits there. That music is lost.”

That lost music is what Arditi is trying to archive and store for North Texas artists. The site will essentially act as a massive online database of music and culture, all while keeping the integrity of the music with the musicians. Arditi launched MusicDetour as a non-profit and the website claims that artists will retain full ownership of their own music when they sign an agreement with MusicDetour.

As of early August, fewer than a dozen bands have signed on, including some projects by Hayes and Cavanagh.

“I was the very first test case of uploading some of the tracks, so a couple of my records are on there,” Cavanagh says. He notes that he thinks the website will eventually evolve into a place where artists will be able to help cultivate a fan base.

MusicDetour now has a little over 100 songs, and Arditi is optimistic that it will continue to grow as positivre word of mouth spreads.

“We’re hoping that it’ll be a site of community,” Arditi remarks. “A music community and, eventually, an arts community.”

If you’d like to submit your music or donate to MusicDetour, contact [email protected].

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