Want feedback on your work from fellow songwriters, without getting abuse from trolls? This new online community is for you!
et’s be clear about one thing right from the start: Frettie.com is not the new Soundcloud, the new ReverbNation, the new Bandcamp or the new anything else. The internet already has many services that give up-and-coming artists a platform, a chance to get their songs heard by the wider world, and all of those services have their respective merits. Frettie.com, though, is slightly different.
Frettie, you see, isn’t about getting your work heard by the public, or even by the music industry. It’s about getting your work heard by fellow songwriters. It’s a free-to-join but invite-only community where like-minded devotees of the songwriting craft can give each other feedback, and – going forward – work collaboratively.
“It’s not a marketing engine, it’s purely about peers”
“I guess the closest parallel to it is your local songwriters’ association, expanded out,” says Dennis Field, who founded the site in July 2013 with his wife Julie. “The community on Frettie is very loyal, they help each other and I think that’s the best thing, it’s not a marketing engine, it’s purely about peers.”
We asked Dennis to explain how the site works. “First of all you need an invite,” he says (we’ll explain how to get an invite further down). “Then you can start uploading your songs. The songs don’t have to be finished, they can be raw recordings or just sketches, and you can add a description, the lyrics and what type of feedback you’re looking for. Once that goes live on the site, other songwriters can give you feedback in a variety of ways. They can post a comment, they can simply ‘like’ the song, similar to Facebook, and they can ‘like’ other comments as well. You can also pay an extra one-off price per song, currently $19.99, to get a hit songwriter to give you feedback.
“Along with that,” he continues, “you can also follow other songwriters, and get updates when they post new music. And we’ve just added messaging features, so that songwriters can connect to each other directly. That was something we already saw was happening: songwriters in Nashville connecting with other songwriters in New York, stuff like that. So we’ve added features to the site that will make it easier for that to happen.”
Further down the line, the intention is to add more functionality, so that songwriters and artists can work collaboratively within Frettie itself. A paid-for, more fully featured ‘Frettie Pro’ version of the site will also launch at some point in the future. But neither of those things is going to happen overnight, because Frettie, like Songwriting, is still a) quite new and b) very much a cottage industry project – there are no big-bucks venture capitalists hovering in the background. Dennis – a songwriter himself whose ‘day job’ has always been in web design – says he’s seen too many VC-funded projects where “it can quickly turn from creating something of quality to creating something that just generates revenue, sometimes before revenue is ready to be made.”
“We don’t want a million people posting nonsense songs”
“We know that the quality of Frettie truly comes down to the songwriters that are on it,” he says. “More traffic and more users is always nice, but we don’t want a million people posting nonsense songs about a rubber ducky or whatever. That’s why we have the invitation system in place: it keeps the community limited to those who take their songwriting seriously.”
So when you visit the Frettie.com home page and request an invite, you’ll be asked to submit examples of your work, and give some background information about your musical career. But don’t worry if you’re not headlining Glastonbury just yet. “We just look at how actively you’re pursuing your career,” says Dennis. “If you have a self-released CD out, or if you have good presence on ReverbNation, or if you’re out gigging reasonably regularly… not a problem. That’s enough for us to say, you’re going to join Frettie and you’re in it to enhance your music, versus ‘Hey, let’s troll on here and cause some ruckus’. It’s just a way to filter out quality.”
Anyone applying to join will normally hear back within 48 hours, says Dennis. After that, the site’s really one of those things where you get out of it what you put in. “Our best users are music students that are currently in college, they’re very eager to get feedback,” says Dennis. “And that’s where that beautiful dynamic happens on Frettie – where those who are writing every day as students, when they get connected with those who have been writing for years, beautiful things happen.”
As stated above, these are early days for Frettie, so don’t expect to sign up and be catapulted to international megastardom overnight. But that’s what we love about it: at a time when Google, Microsoft, Apple et al seem hell-bent on taking over every aspect of your entire life, isn’t it nice to find a small group of people just concentrating on doing one thing well? That’s not to say Dennis and his team don’t have big plans, though…
“We’ve got users all over the world”
“We’ve got users all over the world,” says Dennis. “In the UK, Australia, Canada, and we’ve even had requests from songwriters in other languages, which we have to handle differently. So far we’ve been just emailing them and saying, we’re still trying to figure out how to handle that kind of globalisation right now!
“And partnerships are huge for us,” he continues. “When we first started out, we hooked up with the Columbus Songwriters Association here in Ohio, and Joey and Derek there have been immensely helpful in helping us get the site off the ground. We’re always looking to connect with songwriting circles and other like-minded groups. As songwriting organisations, you have to stick together and create an army!”
For more information, and to request an invite, head to Frettie.com