Musicians Build Nerve Over Quarantine

Ella Lilly, Staff Writer

There’s a new streaming service on the market aimed at helping musicians achieve the fair pay and conditions they deserve. The app allows fans to subscribe to their favorite artist’s channel and have access to unique content. 

Nerve FM set out with this goal in mind as they launched their app designed for musicians. Based in Austin, Texas, John Wapush, the co-founder of Nerve FM, saw an issue with the current treatment of musicians and opted for a new way of streaming.

“Think of it like a fan subscribed to an artist channel,’’ Wapush said. ‘‘The artist streams audio and video content that can be live streamed as well as recorded in their channel. Typically, the content we encourage artists to put up there is non-catalogued content, so content that’s outside of their typical releases…like live performances, demos, that type of stuff.”  

With a monthly subscription model, The Nerve FM app allows fans to either subscribe to just their favorite artist or subscribe to all of the available artists channels with unlimited content. Compared to popular streaming services, their goal is to improve the way musicians earn commission on their music by using a subscription model instead of the traditional per-play commission and algorithms, which Wapush believes favor larger musicians over smaller ones. Additionally, musicians creating channels don’t have to sign binding contracts.

“[Artists] maintain ownership over what they create,” Wapush said. “They can put stuff up or take it down whenever they want. There’s no contracts or anything else. There’s some rules that they agree to, but there’s no long-term contracts or anything. It helps them because it’s free for them to create a channel, and they earn significant recurring revenue, that means revenue that repeats over time, like subscription revenue each month.”

DJ Ambush, a DJ from Louisiana and musician on Nerve FM, is a large supporter of the app. He likes that he can upload music and extras, such as unreleased music, merch, and other projects he’s working on just to Nerve FM.

“It feels like an extension of my creative space, of my existing creative space,” DJ Ambush said. “It’s like another room where I can put some projects for certain people to come check out.”

Some musicians, like Dege Lege, are skeptical over Nerve’s age and small user base. Lege supports the app but believes it’s difficult for the app to pay bills since it’s so new. When traffic is low, listens are low, so right now musicians can make more money on services with larger user bases like Spotify. However, Lege is optimistic that as Nerve FM grows, the mission, purpose, and software is there.

“If the platform grows, it’ll definitely improve my liking of it more,” Lege said. “I don’t dislike it. I just think it’s in its infancy like a lot of these platforms are and they’re scrambling to distinguish themselves in the forest of apps that are trying to capture a segment of the market.”

As musicians look forward to the growth of the app for their own gain, the app is being built and directed for the fans. Fans are able to take a deeper dive into their favorite artists’ work and foster a closer relationship with musicians, as Ambush described.

“From a fan’s perspective, I would say, Nerve really allows you to zero in on artists that you respect and engage with their content,” Ambush said. “It creates an opportunity for you to get into their world and see who inspires them.”