Feedbands began in 2010 with what founder Graham Langdon describes as “a musical awakening”.
Dancing at a Rebelution concert in Hawaii, he experienced a peak moment. “I could literally feel the music in every cell of my body. I realized music is the destiny of humanity and the meaning of life. Or mine, at least. After that, I wanted to be immersed in music all the time.”
The next morning, Graham was determined to live in a house filled with musicians. Wasting no time, he founded the first Feedbands house later that week on Big Island. He invited musicians to come stay and jam, but he quickly realized he’d have more exposure to constant music in California.
Graham moved the Feedbands house to Santa Cruz, and christened it the Kale House. The rules were simple: any musician could live at Kale House rent-free in exchange for jamming, anyone could play music at any hour, day or night, and all residents were requested to “be good to the earth,” whatever that meant for them. The house filled up with more than twenty musicians occupying every available space in the house.
The Kale House became known as a go-to place in Santa Cruz for underground shows. Three or four bands would play, and then people would jam until the sun came up. Many videos from this period in the company’s history are posted on YouTube:
Graham thought the music at these jams was better than anything he was hearing on the radio. He wanted more people to have access to the musicians he had the luxury of living among every day. The people that were making music for the sheer love of it, because they were compelled by passion rather than money.
To get this incredible music out to a wider audience than the Kale House could hold, he decided to build an app that would stream only independent artists, just like the ones that were playing shows at his house and sleeping on his couch.
The app launched in 2012 but didn’t get much traction. Graham quickly learned that streaming was a tough business and was unsure of what to do.
In 2013, a band called the “Unknown Relatives” played at the Kale House. After the show, Graham wanted to buy a CD, but the bassist let him know, “No one wants CDs anymore. If you want a digital download, just get the digital download. If you want something physical, you want vinyl.”
Graham bought the Unknown Relatives vinyl. The band told Graham they were heading to SXSW to find someone to release their record.
“We’ll release your record,” said Graham.
“But Feedbands isn’t a record company,” said Maggie-Tron, then drummer for the Unknown Relatives.
Graham had already decided that it was.
Feedbands launched its vinyl record subscription shortly thereafter with the idea of letting members vote which artists to press each month. Thousands of subscribers signed up in the first two months. But the initial success was short-lived. Records were delayed. Masters were skipping. New subscriptions dwindled. Feedbands learned a lot of lessons about vinyl the hard way in those early days.
Then more disaster struck. The owner of the Kale House decided to sell the property and the residents had 30 days to vacate the musical sanctuary and underground venue.
Niko Nimba, then resident musician, recorded this song in mourning on the front steps of the Kale House on it’s last day:
Feedbands had to downsize quickly. For a few years, the company shipped records out of a broom closet with a single employee. It was all Feedbands could afford but we kept releasing records.
Graham went on a walkabout to figure out what to do next. He landed in Asheville, North Carolina, and decided to start a small organic farm where he could host musicians and house concerts again, and quite literally feed bands. It was called the Feedbands Farm and over the next two years, dozens of bands came to garden kale and tomatoes, play shows, and spend a few nights. There are some youtube videos from this period of the company’s history:
By now, Feedbands had established itself enough to close the broom closet in Santa Cruz and open an office just outside of Asheville. The company stayed steady as a vinyl subscription service and streaming platform for several years, and Graham still enjoyed a house filled with music.
Eventually, the Feedbands Farm suffered the same fate as the Kale House: the owner decided to sell the property and asked the residents to vacate. This time, Graham relocated to Austin, the music capital of the United States.
Shortly after arriving in Austin in 2018, Feedbands greeted the city by taking over a coffee shop for three days during SXSW and inviting 90 musicians to come play.
Among the Feedbands family of artists that came to Austin were Scott Dunbar, Ava Marie, Fungus Hill, Faded Paper Figures, Opusoid, Judo No, the Rainbow Girls, The Vliets, Brad Sucks, Breanna Barbara, Harriers of Discord, The Movement, Larkin Poe, Marbin, Sea At Last, Shrugboat, Royal Jelly Jive, The Acid House, and Mammoth Indigo.
Calling the mini-festival “DashFest”, Graham found a way to combine his love for music with an early-adopter mindset following the cryptocurrency superbloom of 2017.
In 2019, Feedbands made significant platform upgrades. The company is now the first music streaming service to pay artists streaming royalties in Bitcoin, and at a rate over twice what Spotify pays per stream. Feedbands also pays subscribers in Bitcoin for streaming and sharing music on the platform.
Graham saw this initiative as a way to extend the hospitality he was able to offer at the Kale House and the Feedbands Farm. Not only can independent musicians find a platform for their music on Feedbands, they also get paid in one of the most rapidly appreciating assets in the world and participate in a risk-free way in the massive redistribution of wealth that is underway.
While the Bitcoin payments are exciting, Feedbands is perhaps most proud to announce that with the new platform, Feedbands now plants 1 tree for every 100 qualified streams.
Feedbands mission has always been to support rising artists with whatever they need: a place to spend the night, some food to eat, a place to play music, a record deal, some money. But now, Feedbands mission has expanded to turn music streaming into something that reforests the planet.
Through a partnership with Trees.org, Feedbands has already planted over 5000 trees, and every time a member streams, we are able to plant more. Our vision now is to turn music streaming into something that reforests the planet.
Feedbands is always evolving, and we appreciate everyone that has supported this company over the years. We’ve now released over 70 independent artists on vinyl, and you can always check out past releases on our record archive or vote for the next one at feedbands.com/charts
What does the future hold for Feedbands? We’ll probably release more records, plant more trees, get more Bitcoin into the hands of our artists and members, and most importantly of all, bring live music to people in inspiring ways.