We’ve never met but I’m hoping we can talk. I’m a big fan of what you do, and maybe an even bigger fan of how you do it. The world needs more positivity, more artists working to inspire their fans to get active in their communities. Music has the power to connect people. You have that power and you use it for good. I hope I get to say thank you in person some day.

I help run a small nonprofit called CASH Music. We build web tools anyone can use to share or sell their music direct to their fans, using their own accounts, with no one taking a cut, charging a fee, or throwing ads all over everything. We want a more sustainable future for musicians, built on free and open tools that put artists before profits, people before corporations. We built something that can’t be bought or sold because we believe the web is vital for musicians and deserves a solid foundation that won’t disappear.

I’m not always great telling the whole story of CASH Music. Sometimes I get lost in the complex intersection of arts funding, tech funding, and how their failings kind of amplify each other. Sometimes I just get mad that the arts are obviously a cornerstone of our culture yet so easily dismissed as nothing more than entertainment. But at the core of CASH we just want musicians to have a chance at making a healthy living doing their work — making music.

Every musician needs a tech team these days and we want all artists to know they’re not alone, whether they’re doing their thing DIY or with the support of a label. We’re here to be that team.

Everything we’ve built was built directly with musicians. All for free, and all of it given back to whoever wants to use it. Open software is community software. We built the email-for-download embeds used by Run The Jewels for RTJ2 and RTJ3 and that changed how we customize things. We built a store for Bikini Kill and their feedback shaped the public release. We helped De La Soul deliver digital files to their Kickstarter backers and report those numbers to SoundScan. We publish a blog called Watt where artists and experts share their experiences in their own words. We’ve even experimented with short-term no-interest loans to help musicians fund projects directly.

We fight for musicians.

CASH is my life’s work, almost ten years in the making. It’s grown from a weird idea to a small organization of four people, supporting over thirteen thousand artist accounts. For the first time in a long time we’re not sure how long we’ll be able to continue. The service will stay up no matter what — our hosting costs are donated — but we’ve only got maybe six weeks of payroll before we’re unemployed. In my heart I know it’s not time to stop fighting for the arts. It’s more important now than ever. We’ve got a lot more than six weeks of work still to be done here.

Art is too important to to be left in the hands of industry alone.

We’re doing our best to find a way forward. We’re talking to all our friends. We’re on the phone. Shit, I’m writing to people I don’t even know. We built a new way for folks to support us called the CASH Music Family — it’s somewhere between co-op and fan club rewards. It’s all built on a free subscription component we’re adding to our platform. We want to turn this organization of ours into a movement. We want to keep fighting. We need people who can inspire others and show why it’s so vital to fight for art and music. We need leaders. We need artists.