An Interview EFTMega Founder and Musician, EVAN BAKEN!
Posted On 05 Apr 2016
Meet Evan Baken!
He is the drummer in seminal emo band The Movielife and a former music industry exec (former management for rock band Avenged Sevenfold). Evan is now an entrepreneur with his latest venture, the artist discovery site and digital music store EFTMega.
EFT = Effort MEGA = Maximum
EftMega, a radical new, artist and consumer-friendly digital music store has just launched at EftMega.com.
With the goal of becoming the go-to destination for all things independent, including metal, punk, emo, hardcore and more, EftMega provide a new platform for artists to sell music, retain rights, and control exposure and offers consumers a discovery system that properly connects fans to music and creates a meaningful engagement with the artist .
Evan Baken explains, “I think a large part of the music population of fans and artists are being ignored. The shit that I love is being lost under the drama of streaming services competing to lose less money. Their models have yet to deliver what they claim. We don’t need more of the same. We need a simple and effective way of compensating artists and connecting them with fans, and I believe wholeheartedly that EftMega will do that. Music is personal. Albums are essential.”
The 7-point plan behind EftMega is as follows:
1. They only sell albums
2. Every album sells for $6.25
3. Artists get $5.00 of each sale
4. They rank every artist by effort so working hard gets your more exposure that costs nothing
5. They categorize every artist by scene
6. Every release is unsigned or licensed by a label (hence artist-owned)
7. There are no commitments or exclusives
• Their system is intended to eliminate the need for traditional magazine, internet, and radio charts that are primarily based on spending money and suffer from internet manipulation
• Reliance on labels is minimized or eliminated
• Their platform is designed to reduce the expense needed for exposure, minimize the costs to distribute music, and expand the reach of the artist’s audience
• Artists can obtain valuable foot traffic with accidental discovery on the site
• Artists will receive free information to improve decision making
• Purchases can be made quickly, easily, and with less decision on cost
• They have built-in filtering so serious acts rise and pretenders sink
• Using scenes to create a better tool for discovery
• The One-Price Model gives the consumer a compelling product at the right price
• They have eliminated the consumer debate of the various price structures and their value
Baken adds, “We are, fundamentally, a music store. However, we only sell music that is provided to us by artists directly, or by labels whose artists retain ownership of their masters. We are not anti-label, we are simply pro-artist. Think of us as a musical farmer’s market.”
“What we are proposing is a way for bands to connect with an audience and get meaningful visibility by ranking them in order of effort. Those that put forth the most effort to further their career get the most exposure on our website. Put in the effort and you will see maximum results. It can be that simple. This is where we got our name…EFT = Effort + MEGA = Maximum”
Learn more about Evan and his site in the following All Access interview:
Thanks so much for your time, Evan! So how did 2015 end for you? What are you most excited for in 2016? Did you make any new years resolutions?
Thanks for having me. Happy New Year. 2015 was indeed a big year, I launched my site, did a bunch of Movielife reunion shows and my youngest daughter was born. Lots of stuff on my plate but it was a pretty great time. As far as resolutions go I resolved to never launch a business, have a band reunion and a child in the same year again.
Can you talk about the new digital music store that you started? How did you come up with the 7-point plan for Eft Mega?
For those that haven’t seen or heard of us yet here is a briefer on EftMega: we only sell albums, every album sells for $6.25, we don’t make any recommendations to users based on their purchases or listening habits, we rank all our artists by effort, and we categorize every artist by scene.
To me, I think back to the days when my friends and I would go to a record store and just rifle through all the bins of music and try to find shit that looked cool and then sounded cool. It was always fun finding new stuff or coming across something that we read someone shout out in a magazine. There was an excitement about finding new music. I wanted to recreate that element with my site. I like the idea of people spending a little time finding good stuff. I feel psychologically, when you find something you like and you find it yourself, you stick with it a bit longer. I am not sold on all the talk of curation and recommendation software primarily because music is personal, and although there are obvious ways to recommend music, beyond that the programs usually break down.
The music I love taps into a time and place, a moment where something else was going on linked to my listening of an album and that stuff never leaves me. Machines can’t pick up on that. The industry is too consumed with big data. They only recommend based on patterns, and when I came up with the idea for my site and how people would find music, most industry people were appalled that I would have customers actually spend time clicking through a site to find stuff they liked. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Beyond that I’m convinced that a large portion of industry recommendations are based on payola anyway. I’ve always wanted a system of exposure for artists that felt fair, one that wasn’t based on money, who you knew, labels favors, etc. that could give people a good starting point for finding music that could ultimately help them connect what bands they liked to other bands in their scene.
How do you think your experiences as a musician has helped you create this artist discovery site?
I’ve been disenchanted with the music business since my band The Movielife signed our first deal with Revelation Records way back when. The industry was a necessary evil, we had no choice – we needed our music in stores and we needed to get our music out to as many people as possible. With so few choices, the deals were unfavorable for artists like me. I’ve been working in this industry for almost 20 years now and we still aren’t at a point where this situation has become favorable for the artist. Most artist deals remain lopsided, most labels want commitments for a long term, and own your albums and pieces of your publishing, touring and merch. Distribution has become so much easier but it comes at a time when labels can’t even sell music. We are facing limitless possibilities for artists to reach people today without a proper platform to bring all this in, focus consumers and convince them to pay for music. 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 back in the day. The idea that there could be 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 what led me to create EftMega.
Are there currently any bands that you are working with that you are particularly excited about?
I like a lot of the bands currently on the site. I didn’t know what to expect when we launched but we’ve really gotten a good crop of artists at the start. If you want me to single out a few, well…that would go against the spirit of the site and the idea of exposing the ones who worked the hardest. All I can say is check out the Top 40 this week or next and those are the artists I’d recommend people checking out first.
Growing up, did you always want to be an artist and work with musicians? Is there anything else that you could see yourself doing today?
Not really. Growing up I think I wanted to be a carpenter. Music just came into my life when I was young and just grew and grew. It really took off in high school and then after a handful of bands finally clicked with The Movielife. As far as doing other things, I think I’ve had a pretty diverse career in the music business. From working as a musician to a manager to owning my own merch company, then six years in business management – I’ve done a lot in this industry so I don’t think I’d be doing something else other than learning more about the music business and different ways I can take what I already know and expand it and continue to help artists in the process.
Are you still actively playing with The Movielife? Do they have new music on the horizon?
My time with The Movielife is currently over. When we decided to reunite and play shows in 2015 it was under the premise that people would do it for as long as they could and this wasn’t going to be a full time or serious commitment. Once my daughter was born and EftMega launched I just didn’t have enough time to add performing and travelling to the mix so I stopped after our Long Island show. The rest of that lineup seems to still be playing occasional shows but I have no idea how long they plan on doing that or if there’s gonna be new music in the works. If it does, it won’t include me.
What bands have consistently inspired you and your music? Is there that you would love to work with?
I’m not sure how to answer that. As a musician my biggest influences were Fugazi, The Pixies, and Dag Nasty. As a businessperson I love Avenged Sevenfold because I spent a lot of time with those guys and was part of their transition from a local Orange County band to a worldwide machine. It was really amazing to see how different the industry was for them than it was for my band, but a lot had to do with how those guys managed their own careers. They really had a specific vision for what they wanted, how they wanted to be perceived, their music, their aesthetic, and everything in between. I admire them for sticking to their guns and being true to their vision and seeing it all unfold the way they wanted. My band really had no vision or plan or business sense. In time it all just became a mess, and for most bands I think their career ends up the same.
So as far as bands I’d like to work with, I’d love to work with any young band that would listen to what I had to say cause I have plenty of advice for people and ways to market their music, avoid the mess, and be much smarter and more strategic about their careers.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourselves, your music or the digital music store?
I would hope that people check out EftMega.com because it’s a site from someone who lived this business for a long time and really wants it to succeed so artists can still have a chance and people can still discover good music. Streaming and the idea of renting music is long term suicide for the music industry. I’m trying to show people how streaming not only robs artists of their income but how customers are getting robbed as well. Customers who pay $10 a month are overpaying for catalog they barely access.
In 1999, the average music-buying person in the world spent around $64 on recorded music per year. Asking people to pay $120 for millions of songs when most of what they listen to is a fraction of that is insane. The best value of the internet is that a consumer can find new artists, pay for their music at a relatively cheap price, and keep that music forever without any loss of quality. I’m giving people the best deal out there. And the fact that I’m doing it without having artists pay for exposure while giving them most of the revenue is something I think most people can get behind.
So, please check out the site, browse through the catalog and hopefully buy something. And of course, come back each week and see which artists are deserving of your attention.