Coming up in the Columbus music scene has been both inspiring and depressing for Mat Marcum and Ryan Cox. On one hand, the city is home to a lot of talent. On the other, not many people, especially those outside Columbus, will ever be exposed to it.
So the duo founded cannon.fm with a simple goal: to give a boost to artists who are largely performing under the radar.
“I wanted to expand the traditional geographic barriers that these bands, and fans of these bands, are held to,” says Cox.
For the uninitiated, cannon.fm is a free music/radio streaming app and website with content entirely produced by local musicians from around the country.
It’s essentially Pandora for local music.
Listeners populate a streaming radio station based on any number of criteria, including genre, location, and similar artists. That means they can create a station that plays, say, hip hop bands in Chicago, or country artists in Nashville, or punk rock bands in New York City.
The problem with local music is that there are only two ways to access it: through the Internet or a live performance− and it’s nearly impossible for even die-hard fans to make it to every gig in their own town, let alone somewhere else, Cox says. And either way, the listener is always having to go to the music, so to speak.
“I wanted to create a platform similar to terrestrial or internet radio where the music comes to the listener,” he says.
To get into rotation, musicians simply upload their tracks (free of charge) to the cannon.fm website. They can also submit biographies, photos, lyrics, and upcoming concert dates online.
On June 22, cannon.fm launched in Columbus. It has since expanded to Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Washington, DC.
“Cincinnati and Cleveland made the most sense due to their geographic proximity to Columbus,” Cox says. “Plus, they each have amazing local music scenes.”
The expansion into DC happened after Chris Naoum reached out to cannon.fm.
Naoum is the founder of Listen Local First, a non-profit that focuses on increasing the exposure and compensation of DC-area musicians. When he heard about cannon.fm’s plans to expand, he expressed his desire to have DC be its first non-Ohio market.
Since then, they’ve worked together to grow awareness of cannon.fm among local music enthusiasts, and achieved considerable success.
“We’re hoping to replicate this ‘market ambassador’ model in cities all over the country,” Cox says. “Find someone that is deeply connected with their local music scene, someone that believes that cannon.fm can help advance the careers of their town’s local musicians, and have them become our eyes, ears and mouth on the ground.”
cannon.fm has plans to expand into Austin and Dallas, and is looking into several other markets, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.
To date, there have been nearly 15,000 visits to the cannon.fm website, almost 700 content submissions, and more than 2,100 songs in rotation.
Version 2 of the site will have a web app for the music player (so cannon.fm radio can be accessed from a listener’s computer) and expanded artist profiles that will be similar to ReverbNation or Bandcamp pages.
Additionally, Version 2 will give listeners the ability to purchase a band’s music, merchandise and upcoming concert tickets, create custom playlists, and tag or follow their favorite musicians to receive regular content updates.
Work on Version 2, as well as a Droid app and an updated iOS app, is expected to wrap by March 2013.
To learn more about cannon.fm, visit cannon.fm.