This article is an independent work by Will and has no financial or editorial connection to Ampled.
An introduction to Ampled
Ampled, an American musical artist subscription platform launched in 2019, feels like Patreon mixed with a punk zine. It’s a co-op owned by artists, workers, and community members.
Artists offer audio, videos, photos, and text posts in a supporter-only social feed on Ampled. You can access any given artist’s feed for $3, or pay more if you want, like you might do when buying music on Bandcamp.
Only you and other supporters can comment. All comments are public, and the artist chooses which content is public and which is exclusive.
You won’t choose between reward tiers and prices; Ampled goes all-in on simplicity.
It’s a way to know an artist and talk with their closest supporters, away from the influence of commercial music platforms; a great place for things that the artist would have kept off of digital stores or YouTube in fear of upsetting the algorithms.
What’s amazing right now is just how small Ampled is. At the time of accessing this page, they have just over $5,000 in total monthly payment volume on the platform.
What if you’re the artist?
In that case, you can expect to keep almost all of the support you get through Ampled, more than pretty much any other platform besides your own website.
A key limitation is that you can only upload mp3, not the WAVs you’re used to distributing; and that you can publish only one track per post, not an album or EP. The artists best suited to Ampled will use these limits as advantages, and keep other platforms open for multi-track projects and hi-fi audio.
Ampled also has a lot to say about how you can talk to your audience about launching there. Being about two years old, they’re pandemic-raised, so they lead off the first example in their artist guidance with this:
“These days, without live shows or tours, supporting myself as a musician looks a lot different than it used to. [you can include any personal reasons or insights you have here]”
They go on to recommend that you “build momentum with trusted friends and family” and with people who have already “come to a show, bought a record, or shown support”. This advice is solid: any artist should work out how much of their audience fits into this inner circle.
Ampled co-founder Austin Robey said to Rhythm Changes that the goal is to make sure artists understand where they’re coming from as a co-op:
“[T]he example copy is really just to help artists articulate the concept of cooperative ownership and why it’s important. It can be tough to explain succinctly sometimes.”– Austin Robey, co-founder of Ampled, to Rhythm Changes
The Ampled endgame
Then, when Ampled discusses the public launch of your page, you find insights into their brand. Their messaging matches the punk visual design well:
“Post on Instagram. Here is an example caption for an image. Today I’m launching on @ampl3d, a cooperative platform where you can directly support musicians. It’s like Patreon, but it’s artist- and worker-owned, which means we have a say in how it grows. [Add a personal note about why you’re launching and/or what you plan to share.]”
They also say directly to artists, “Explain your frustration with streaming/ platforms“. The idea of having “a say in how it grows” lies at the core of many such frustrations.
With such a small platform, Ampled won’t be a rocketship any time soon. Their most popular artist has fewer than 150 supporters at this time. Once an artist gets their first ten supporters, they can become an artist owner of the co-op.
But if they make themselves the home for artists you care about, Ampled might become the most resilient artist support network around.