Photo: Taylor Hill/WireImage
Bon Iver, The National Launch People Music Publishing Platform
On June 6 the collective team of Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the National, Tom and Nadine Michelberger, and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver launched the beta version of their new music publishing platform, People. The full version is expected to be available in time for the People Festival at Funkhaus Berlin on Aug. 13–20 with festival performances scheduled semi-spontaneously on Aug. 18–19.
What is People? The Guardian described the platform, which streams music but aims to be the antithesis of premium services, as "a place for artists to do what they want, entirely free of commercial expectation."
"We are a steadily growing group of international artists who have come together to create and share our work freely, with each other and everyone," the team wrote in a joint statement. "It was born of a wish to establish an independent and nurturing space in which to make work (generally around music) that is collaborative, spontaneous and expressive in nature and where all unnecessary distractions or obstacles that get in the way are removed."
"It's not open to everyone, like Soundcloud, but it's also not fully curated," is the way Tom Michelberger explained why the platform is not open to everyone.
The first People Festival was held by the same collective in October 2016. Designed to feature spontaneous opportunities for musicians to team up and record or perform, the festival gave way to next-level discussions.
"The overall feeling we took away was: why can't music feel like this more often?" Bryce Dessner shared. "Those conversations fed into creating a structure where this music could develop."
"This is much more spontaneous and free, without promotional timelines and requirements and the label demands that come into play," explained Aaron Dessner. "We've been 20 years in the National and gone through every phase of doing that. We see this as something else entirely."
"For me, People is a necessity for publishing certain music without cause for PR alarm," is how Vernon described the service, "or any other reason than just to publish it."
In addition to rarities and collaborations by the GRAMMY-winning founders, artists featured on the People platform include David Chalmin, David Kitt, Marijuana Deathsquads, Nico Muhly, Velvet Negroni, Poliça, Songs Without Words, and Francis Starlite.
"If it's just National B-sides, it won't be a success," said Bryce Dessner, but there is no reason for worry. The spontaneous ability to record is why the People Festival is held at Funkhaus Berlin, formerly the leading recording institution in East Germany. In many ways, the People publishing platform online seems a fitting extension of the festival spirit and it is bound to be better populated by indie rarities as the summer progresses. There is certainly an audience salivating at the potential listening opportunities.