Music curation community This Is My Jam is shuttering its service next month. Co-founders Matthew Ogle and Hannah Donovan explained in a blog post that, in addition to wanting to move on to other projects, it became difficult to keep up with changes to services like YouTube, SoundCloud, Twitter and more that the site depends on.
Over 2 million tracks have been shared over the last four years of This Is My Jam’s existence. When it launched, it focused on careful curation over frequent sharing — and that’s what made it special.
If you pull apart some of the backstory behind the end of a service called “This Is My Jam,” you’ll come across an unnerving reality of the way music on the Web is evolving (or devolving).
Apart from This Is My Jam, I still have to think that independent producers and labels ultimately benefit from a more open Web. Embedding players means more data about would-be fans and listens, data that’s hugely valuable to musicians. It means the flexibility to easily get your music where you want it. And ultimately, it means easily facilitated sharing, which is vitally important in an age of abundant music from around the world.
I don’t mean to suggest that we should go back to the tools we had. But simply giving up the possibilities of sharing is a retreat, not an advancement. We ought to be able to do more with the Internet.
I’m probably like a lot of people out there in that I really like This Is My Jam, but I don’t use it that much. That’s too bad as it was a fine, though ultimately flawed, idea. Now and then I’d recall a song that I love and that would inspire me to post it to This Is My Jam, eventually making my account serve as a repository of these great songs that pleasantly interrupted my days. I also know someone who would post a song every morning as a sort of ‘good morning, friends!’ message. Things like this made TIMJ a warm and personable way to share music, a lot more so than what is available on the other music services. Additionally, TIMJ’s main feature which gave you a stream of your friends’ favorite songs — and just their favorite songs, as was the unwritten rule — made for some appealing and educational sonic excursions, especially if you kept your ‘friends’ list limited to those whose musical taste you admired.
But, alas, TIMJ relied on other services that were outside of its control. TIMJ created its stream of music from shares of content already posted on YouTube, SoundCloud, and a few others who are understandably working to drive traffic to their own sites and services. It was an easy peasy work-around from having to cough up licensing fees (technically, it was the host of the original stream paying). So, for reasons described in the Create Digital Music article, TIMJ is doomed as the world of online music becomes more insular within its specific services. Cymbal, who I’ve mentioned previously, will also likely meet this fate.
The oft-repeated moral of the story: relying on all these different services whose only goal is to make profit from your content is sure to end in heartache. I’m not saying to abandon them, but be very aware of your place in their solar system. Rather than having your fan outreach dependent on external services, have them compliment your own self-reliant architecture — preferably based around your own site — which can’t be screwed with.