Somewhere out there is a singer-songwriter who could use your code. And who knows, that artist -- or one of the other more than 10,000 on ArtistData -- might even pay you for it.
ArtistData is a site to help musicians store their information and reach out to fans in the shortest amount of time. For example, enter tour dates once, then publish to MySpace, your website and send local media alerts.
The site itself is modular, with plugins for each service, so it already looks like a complete platform. Now it's open to outside developers who want to provide new end points for the data the artists already have stored (technical details at our ArtistData API profile).
Founder Brenden Mulligan makes a good case for building on top of his platform:
"We feel that by giving developers a robust platform to build on that is already in use by tons of musicians, development will be faster and the apps will get in front of the intended customers immediately. If you're a developer who wants to build better mailing list software for bands, you can build it within a dashboard artists are already using. If you want to build a way for bands to calculate how much they'll spend on gas while on tour, you can create an app that pulls existing tour data."
Another site, TopSpin, has similar features, but appears a bit more closed. Artists must apply and be contacted before they can use the services. On the web, that usually means a sales process. And though TopSpin has partners that provide services, that is also not as open as ArtistData.
It's not just the openness of ArtistData's developer platform that's intriguing. You can charge for your applications, with ArtistData taking care of the billing. There is no credit card hassle for you and artists are more likely to spend because their information is already on file with a company they supposedly trust.
Hypebot has an interview with Mulligan, where he gives a more broad view of the platform:
"My goal has always been for ArtistData to make artists as effective and efficient as possible. Providing them with a platform to access high quality tools (developed by separate, dedicated teams) in a convenient and central dashboard is very compelling to me."
In the comments to the Hypebot post, a few musicians expressed frustration that ArtistData is just another of the many do-it-yourself tools. Others noted how they need a hub for all things band marketing.
The pitch of a single place for all that is important is compelling. Facebook makes a similar argument for our entire social lives. The question that rarely comes up in these situations (though it certainly has for Facebook) is why you? A central platform is always going to have an owner and it comes down to whether the features are compelling enough to get the attention of both users and developers.
Hat tip: Clyde Smith