It’s not easy being a new artist. Finding an audience and dedicated listening base requires a whole lot of networking and positive word of mouth. On Spotify and other music streaming sites, small artists get swamped by massive releases from the likes of Taylor Swift and Post Malone. Quadio, a brand new streaming platform, wants to change that power relationship by flipping the exclusivity to the small artists.
Quadio is a streaming service that puts the emphasis on the university. You need a college email to get an account, and all of the artists on the platform are college students. (Don’t worry about graduating — Quadio has no plans to kick off users after their four years are up.) With charts ranging from the school to the national level, listeners can find what’s popular with students at their own college and across the country. This unique setup gives artists a natural audience for their work.
Beyond the streaming side of the platform, Quadio hopes to be a LinkedIn for artists to network and collaborate. With a robust social system complete with profiles and messaging, Quadio hopes that artists will be able to easily find others to work with, such as producers to finish off their songs.
Quadio is launching nationally sometime in mid-March (a specific date has yet to be announced), and it will be accompanied by several launch parties held nationwide. Beyond these initial celebrations, Quadio has plans to host events at campuses around the country in order to promote the website. Expect to see Quadio sponsoring live music showcases at Duke in order to give exposure to the artists on its platform.
How is this going to change the Duke music scene? Hopefully, Quadio will make it easier for artists, both the unsigned and those with Small Town Records, get their music out to other Duke students and beyond. While Duke students will likely continue to put their music on Spotify and Apple Music, Quadio will be another way for them to distribute their music more locally.
The new distribution method on Quadio will be more democratic than other methods of finding new music. Rather than letting radio or streaming playlists (which are controlled by music industry gatekeepers) decide what people listen to, college students can discover little-known artists through their peers. It’s essentially speeding up the painfully slow and severely limited process of spreading music via word of mouth.
Quadio, however, needs listeners on the platform in order to jump start this process. Through its events and generally word-of-mouth, Quadio hopes that its platform becomes something students habitually turn to in order to find new music. With a mobile phone app coming out along with the full launch of the platform, this will potentially be as easy as playing a song on any other music streaming site.
Unfortunately for Quadio, it is in this regard that the platform may fall short. The quality of music on the platform is highly variable, and even the songs that chart nationally tend to be unpolished. Nevertheless, there are gems to be found on the site, although it is not very likely that many casual users of the app are going to be willing to spend an extensive amount of time finding them. It is generally much easier to leave that job to the gatekeepers of the music industry, finding music among carefully curated playlists on Spotify.
Quadio has a long way to go to become relevant among college campuses. The app certainly has the potential to be a natural progression from the days of the independently produced Soundcloud scene, where relatively unknown artists, especially within rap and hip hop, took off out of nowhere. Maybe Quadio will be the birthplace of something similar.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect a more accurate approximation of Quadio’s national release date. The Chronicle regrets the error.
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